The first Pickering folk festval was scheduled for August 2008. Several bands attracted us here including The Waterboys a great favourite. However some heavy rain and the promise of more to come persuaded the organisers to cancel the whole event just 24 hours before it started.
I'm astounded that anyone organising a large outdoor event in the UK had no plans for bad weather, I didn't notice Glastonbury or the V festivals cancelled. The showground hosts many major events throughout the year so this was incredibly disappointing for countless people who made their way to town and a sunny, warm Friday really lightened our mood!
By the way - it has been re-scheduled for May Bank holiday weekend 2009, bands still to be announced - guess who will not be there!
Take a train ride to Times past
Pickering is the southern terminus of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway so (for John) it was one of the main attractions of spending a week in Pickering with the opportunity of a ride on a steam train.
For me the prospect of a journey by train of 25 miles or so over the Moors to Whitby was an equal attraction.
This railway is run by paid staff and over 300 Volunteers. The original line was opened in 1836 but closed in 1965 following the infamous Report of Dr. Beeching which reduced Britain’s’ railways to a skeleton service and wiped out 130 years of achievement in steam locomotion.. Thanks to the heroic efforts of volunteers, a Trust was established and the line reopened in 1973.
It now carries over 300,000 passengers a year and contributes £30 million to the local economy. The maintenance of the track, the track bed, bridges and signal ling equipment is done to modern standards
Stations along the route have been restored and have tearooms that reflect different eras from the Line’s history e.g. Levisham 1912; Goathland 1922; Pickering - 1937 and Grosmont 1952 .
Station gardens are tended and have bright flower displays and regularly painted signal boxes and other structures.
Travelling in an old “corridor” train brought back many memories for me as we crossed the beautiful moors and the journey was not only relaxing and enjoyable but full of interest all the way.
Fares are shown on the website together with details of special events including the Pullman Dining Service.
We paid £17 each for a Pickering - Whitby Day Rover Ticket at Seniors Rate.
The journey takes 90 minutes. We stopped to have a look round Grosmont and sample the tea room
First things first - Tourist Information Office
The Tourist Information Office is ideally situated in the centre of town, next to the library, opposite the main (paying) car park, public conveniences and the bus station - or rather the stops from which most routes start- and a short walk to the station for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
It is without doubt one of the most impressive tourist offices I have encountered with very helpful hard working staff - though I naver saw more that two people on duty. I was not surprised to see that it is a prize-winning office for efficiency and helpfulness. The young woman assistant knew exactly where to find any information requested often whilst telling somebody else what was on at the local theatre and advising another couple where there were B&B vacancies.!
We had done a good bit of research before we arrived but were glad to collect additional informative brochures and leaflets, as well as buying some local guidebooks at lower prices than they were on sale elsewhere.
The Office is open every day of the wek and provides an accommodation booking service
Tel 0800 854 047
Visit the Castle
A visit to the castle will not only give you an outline of its history from early Norman times when it was little more than a simple wooden motte-and-bailey castle built by William the Conqueror to quash rebellious northerners and repel invading Scots.
It will also give you some idea about the change in attitude that has taken place regarding the safeguarding and preservation of a nation's historical heritage.
Continuous rebuilding and strengthening of the first Norman Castle took place in following years to create a defended structure to protect the interests of the pageant of kings and noblemen - who incidentally included conspirators, thieves and murderers.
This took place against the historical background of successive monarchs, civil strife and rebellion, international conflict and war, and pestilence .
The names of the players in these events read like the Dramatis Personae of a Shakespeare play
HenryIII; EdwardII; Earl of Lancaster & Duke of York; John O’Gaunt and Bolingbroke; Richard II and Henry IV.
And indeed all of these were to strut the boards - most notably in the Bard’s Richard II and other of his histories.
The 15th C brought a period of comparative calm to the castle in which it was well maintained
But in Tudor times , under the protection of Constables appointed by the King, it began to fall into disrepair. By 1565 it was discovered that parts of the building were being dismantled by the Constable - who took the best stones to build himself a fine new house nearby.
Within a hundred years only the small chapel had a roof and the rest fell into ruins.
Move on 300 years when a new spirit of conservation and preservation is at work; in 1926 the ruins were placed in public care - now known as English Heritage.
The Parish Church of St.Peter & St. Paul
The Spire of the Parish Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul dominates Pickering and there is hardly a spot in the town from which it cannot be seen. The church itself has no commanding prospect but is surrounded by yews and Scots pine trees, and rows of old cottages. It can only be approached by one of three sets of steps from the nearby streets. The earliest church on this site dates from Saxon times and the Font is believed to be the only thing to have survived from that period.
The Normans rebuilt the Church in the 11th Century and throughout the following four centuries there were further additions . It was not until 1853 that wall paintings dating from the 15th century were discovered - under layers of paint, applied by Puritans during the Reformation. For just a few weeks people flocked to see these marvels - until the then Vicar had them painted all over again.
Twenty years later, in more aesthetically enlightened times, the paintings were uncovered and restored by the artist E.H Jewitt. The paintings are not only of artistic interest but had a teaching purpose - in the days when few parishioners would have been able to read the pictures could be used by the priests as teaching aids in the instruction of Christianity, its history and beliefs.
Other points of interest include14th C effigies of local nobles, and a late 18th C pulpit in the style of Heppelwhite and a couple of beautiful windows one of the Reaper and the Sower by E.H. White and another which I have been unable to identify more recent but in an older style.
The Kirk Theatre - The slightly forbidding exterior of this building hints that it was once a Methodist Chapel, but hides the fact that it became home to the Pickering Musical Society in 1977.
From old posters and programmes seen in Museum Beck isle it is evident that the Society was established a long time before that.
Nowadays three productions a year are put on including a Pantomime in January and an annual War Weekend in Ocober.
We saw a very disappointed group of regular visitors to Pickering in the Tourist Office receiving the news that they had arrived one day too late to see the May 2009 production of the Wizard of Oz that had closed on May 16th.
Pickering railway played an important part in the transport of troops and POWs during the 1940s and The War Show - 16th 17th and 18th Oct. 2009, is part of the War Weekend which commemorates both wartime railway workers and veterans with marches, dances, parties and re-enactments throughout the town..
Get up early and go to Market
Monday is Market Day in Pickering. It consists of stalls along one side of the main street - the Market Place - and is quite colourful with the usual range of stalls selling everything from garden plants to household and fshion textiles. I bought a leather bag and some excellent local cheeses.
There is too, down an alley off the Market Place, a permanent flea market. This has dozens of stalls selling bric a brac, small furniture, antique clothing, records and books. All those things not wanted by their owners but are desparately sought by people who do! Great fun for a hunt. I did in fact find an out of print book I wanted - but was a bit squeamish about its condition so left it there! ( Have since found a clean copy elsewhere))
Visit Beck Isle Museum
I have great admiration for local historians and for the people who work so hard in local societies and museums. I suspect that even they do not always realise the importance of gathering and treasuring a community's past.
This local history museum was opened in 1967. As you approach the elegant listed building you would be forgiven for thinking - There can't be much to see here. But you will soon discover how wrong you were. The building has 27 rooms all packed with carefully collected and clearly displayed items includong one gallery devoted to the work of a local photogrpher who recorded the life and work of local people from the early 20thC onwards. Plus an enormous collection of photographic equipment. All aspects of life are covered including in the outside displays an interesting collection of ancient agricultural machinery. The latter is most appropriate as the building is thought to have once housed one of the first agricultural colleges in England.
We spent several hours here.
The Museum has two paintings of Guardsmen by Rex Whistler the artist who was stationed briefly in Pickering with the Welsh Guards before their posting to France in 1944. At the age of 39 he became the first fatality of the Regiment in Normandy soon after the D-Day Landings. A mural he presented to the Town can be seen in the Memorail Hall when open.
Photography is not allowed in any rooms displaying fabrics. More pictures can be seen on the website
Admission Charges were very reasonable £4 and £3 for Concessions and can be gift aided to the benefit of the Trust.
Get the info first.
Throughout the UK (and indeed many other countries) you will find Tourist Information outlets. The Tourist Information Board is merely a good example of a well organised version of this. Friendly, knowledgeable staff, plenty of free information leaflets, all in a pleasant environment. A great example of what a Tourist Information Centre should be. I suggest you check it out.
- Budget Travel
A steam-driven trip to the past.
Readers of some of my other pages will know that I harbour a deep affection for train travel, especially old steam trains. I suspect it may stem from my maternal grandfather having been a railwayman and having been taken as a small child to the station to see the trains. I suppose some things just stay with you. As I mentioned in my Picekring introduction page time was against us and my friends and I were unable to actually travel on the North York Moors Railway which travels from Pickering down to Whitby with occasional trips on the Esk Valley Line.
Although it would have been a lovely trip, just meandering about the restoration yards looking at the old rolling stock was quite enough to quicken my pulse. I cannot quite define it, but there is something hugely evocative about old trains, so much more stylish than today's uber-functional cattle trucks (on British railways anyway).
A quick look at the website will show you that the various stations on the line are fitted out from different periods of Britain's railway history. Pickering is the 1930's version, complete with a delightful teashop serving homemade local food, and it really is quite stunning. I hope the photos, which were taken on a pretty dismal day, do it justice.
If you walk past the main station you will come to the restoration yards where old rolling stock sits patiently awaiting a new lease of life granted by enthusiastic railway buffs. Undoubtedly a labour of love, there is no doubt, looking at the end result, that it is worth it.
I hope, when you visit Pickering, you will be luckier than me and have a chance to actually ride the railway but if not a wander round the Station area is certainly worthwhile.
An 11th century earthwork motte and bailey fortress founded by William the Conqueror, with bits added to it in the 12th century by King Henry II.
The site is now owned by English Heritage, and open daily from April - September, and from Thursday - Monday only during October.
Unfortunately I ain't had chance to check the place out since a 1994 school trip, so don't have an particularly good pictures of the place
- Castles and Palaces
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
Pickering is the adminstrative home of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, and where the line comes to an end after setting off from Grosmont.
It was originally built in 1836, and was used in the film Possession & TV series such as Casualty, Brideshead Revisited + All Creatures Great and Small........ further up the line is Goathland, famous as "Aidensfield" in the TV series HEARTBEAT, and to Harry Potter fans as "Hogsmeade Station" in the Harry Potter movie(s).
Not to be missed if you're in the area (especially if you're a bit of a train nut), as it's one of the leading Preservation railways in the UK.
During December they run "Santa Specials" for the kids to meet Santa Claus.
- National/State Park
- Museum Visits
With a couple of hours to kill we embarked on a tour of the town centre pubs, as we do!
Anyway, encountered some bizarre opening hours and not much in the way of pub-grub on offer until the evening. (we bought a picnic from one of the deli's in town)
Bonio's award for the best pint in town goes to Timothy Taylor's Landlord at "The Rose"
- Beer Tasting
North Yorks Moors Railway
The cancellation of the folk festival at least gave us the chance to re-visit the NYMR. Probably the best steam railway operating in the UK. Took a one way ticket to Grosmont and walked back. Not a difficult walk but take appropriate footwear, especially after bad weaher.
Flamingoland Theme Park & Zoo
Flamingoland is the top Theme Park (and pretty much the only Zoo that I know of) in the area........ located in the village of Kirby Misperton about 5-10mins down the road from Pickering (down the A169 to Malton).
Features many rides including a few rollercoasters, and many animal exhibits........ been a while since I've been, but last time I went (summer 1999) there were Lions / Tigers / Chimpanzees / Parrots / Polar Bears & Penguins. And of course Flamingo birds..... I remember last time I was there there was a pub on site, and the flamingos were on a lake near it.
Great day out for ALL the family
If you don't fancy driving, you can catch the #840 YORKSHIRE COASTLINER bus that runs from Leeds to Whitby (via York, Malton & Pickering) and drops off at a bus shelter next to a roundabout in the village, and the perimeter wall to the park is behind the bus shelter... just go up the roundabout exit nearest the bus shelter (NOT the one the bus came along, the one it went past just before it pulled up at the bus shelter and headed back the way it came)........ you can often also see some of the animals in Flamingoland from the bus on the road into the village.
It also has it's own on-site Holiday village.
- Theme Park Trips
- Family Travel
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