Welcome to Pickering; an ancient market town in North Yorkshire lined with historic buildings, quaint antique stores, independent cafes, and a whole host of attractions.
With only 7,000 residents, Pickering is a fairly small town with a big personality. It’s here that you will find the North York Moors Railway Museum, home to the Pullman steam train. At the Beck Isle Museum visitors can find out what Victorian life was like with an indoor town and lots of interactive exhibits. Other notable sites in Pickering include Pickering Castle, St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church, and the North York Moors, with endless hiking routes to enjoy.
After a day exploring the town, do as the locals do and head to a nearby pub for a pint of beer and some classic British pub grub!
A brief history of Pickering
Legend has it that Pickering gained its name around 270BC when King Peredurus accused a woman of stealing his ring. The ring is then said to have reappeared at dinner time inside a pike that the king had caught earlier that day. Since then this charming market town was called Pike-ring. Whether this myth has any truth in it, no one is completely sure, but it’s a funny and unique tale of how Pickering may have got its name.
Finding itself conveniently positioned between Scarborough, Whitby, Helmsley, and Malton, Pickering is often known as the ‘Gateway to the Moors’. It’s thanks to its natural landscape that the town became popular with settlers. Upon conquering England, William I constructed Pickering Castle and the town became the home of the crown. Henry IIII later developed the castle for protection from Scotland and it was again expanded by Edward II with three more towers.
Arts and Culture
Just like the rest of North Yorkshire, Pickering is well known for its friendly and welcoming hospitality. Filled with family-run cafes, restaurants and bars, visitors to Pickering will never be too far away from homemade baking and casual pub chit chat. Though it is a small town, Pickering boasts a big creative side with three performance venues and a range of music, art, and food festivals that are held throughout the year. Find a full list of festivals in Pickering here.
The Kirk Theatre
The Kirk Theatre is an impressive space that is mostly run by volunteers. Soak up the town’s cultural scene with a visit to this diverse venue. Here you will find a number of annual productions by the Pickering Musical Society, play readings, movie screenings, tribute acts.
Things to do in Pickering
View our detailed guide here – Things to do in Pickering
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
One of the main reasons for visiting Pickering is to experience its 18 kilometres of historic railway. Journeying through the sublime countryside, the railway is home to Britain’s most famous steam train; the Pullman. Enjoy a gourmet lunch on this elegant heritage train as you pass through a beautiful national park. If you are short on time and money, simply heading to the platform and watching the train depart is a worthwhile experience in itself. Find more information here.
Standing tall above the town with pride is Pickering Castle, a 13th Century fortress that was originally constructed by the Normans under the order of William the Conqueror. This strategically located castle was later developed by Henry IIII followed by Edward II. Within the castle grounds, you will find a chapel, the king’s living chambers, a gatehouse, towers, and captivating views across the moors.
Set within the North York Moors National Park, the Dalby Forest is brimming with cycling, hiking, and running trails. Perfect for those looking to explore North Yorkshire’s gorgeous natural scenery, this forest promises plenty of outdoor adventure. Picnic and BBQ areas surround the tracks, making it perfect for a leisurely day out. There is also a Go Ape zip lining adventure park located within the forest, offering fun for all ages.
St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church
Located on top of a hill in the town of Pickering, this lovely little parish church showcases the town’s fascinating history. Originally built by the Saxons, and then reconstructed by the Normans, this church is famed for its medieval wall paintings believed to have been commissioned in around 1450. Find more information here.
Places to stay in Pickering
When it comes to finding accommodation in Pickering, there are plenty of options to choose from. If you’re looking for B&B style accommodation then the town has a number of cosy inns and guest houses. Families and those in larger groups may prefer one of the area’s cottage rentals with your own kitchen, living space, and garden. There are also plenty of mid-range hotels and a selection of luxury options. Those who prefer to reconnect with nature while on holiday, may prefer one of the nearby campsites with tent pitches, lodges, and glamping pods available.
Boundary Stable is situated in Pickering. With free private parking, the property is 3.7 miles from Flamingo Land Theme Park and 5 miles from Dalby Forest.
Barker Stakes Farm
Set on 16 acres on the banks of Pickering Beck, in a beautiful, peaceful location in North Yorkshire, this 18th-century farmhouse offers attractive en suite bed and breakfast accommodation, as well as serviced lodges on a room only basis. There are 11 en suite rooms, all situated on the ground floor, in converted outbuildings situated around a courtyard and 8 self-catering lodges.
Pickering Rooftop Terrace
Situated in Pickering, Pickering Rooftop Terrace features accommodation with a patio and free WiFi. It is located 3.1 miles from Flamingo Land Theme Park and provides an ATM. The apartment has 3 bedrooms, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, an equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a microwave, a washing machine, and 3 bathrooms with a hot tub. The apartment offers a terrace. Guests at Pickering Rooftop Terrace can enjoy hiking nearby or make the most of the garden.
Places to eat in Pickering
When it comes to finding food in Pickering, this small town packs a lot of options. Within the town centre, you will find traditional tea rooms serving, cakes, scones, sandwiches, and, of course, tea. There are also plenty of gastropubs, cafes, and international restaurants to choose from.
Potter Hill Fisheries
It would be a real shame to visit North Yorkshire without trying some Fish & Chips. This classic fast-food meal is popular throughout the UK, usually served wrapped up to go in the paper. Potter Hill Fisheries is a traditional chip shop serving up hand-battered cod and haddock. Along with the classics, this takeaway restaurant also has a few alternative options such as spam, pineapple, and Mars Bars coated in batter.
The Tea Shop
Just like the name suggests, this local favourite is a traditional tea room situated in a peaceful area of town. If you’re looking for a good Yorkshire brew accompanied by friendly conversation, then you will fit right in. If you are feeling particularly peckish, opt for a classic afternoon tea for two, consisting of delicious scones, cakes, and sandwiches. The Tea Shop also serves bacon butties, quiche, and homemade jams and preserves.
The Black Swan
Located in a 4* hotel, The Black Swan is the place to go for a finer dining experience. Set in a 17th Century coach house, this restaurant oozes in typical Yorkshire hospitality with a cosy dining room, friendly staff, and garden views. Expect pub favourites using locally sourced ingredients along with a selection of stoned baked pizzas. When it comes to drinking, there are 15 craft beers on tap, 30 UK based gins, and a selection of European wines.
Spice 4 U
If you’re looking for something that isn’t fish and chips, steak, and tea, head over to this award-winning Indian restaurant. Spice 4 U is popular with Pickering’s residents looking to fulfil their curry cravings. It’s here that you will find Britain’s favourite Indian dishes including Butter Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, Jalfrezi, and a selection of Tandoori plates. There are also plenty of chef’s specialities from Chicken Darjeeling to Karahi Mint.
Nightlife in Pickering
As a small town surrounded by countryside, Pickering is a peaceful town with a slower pace of life. Maintaining its distinct local charm, the nightlife in Pickering is fairly calm, the kind of place you go to enjoy a pint with your dog after a long walk. Of course, being a typical English town, Pickering certainly boasts its fair share of pubs serving local beer, ale, wine, spirits, and cocktails.
Try The Bay Horse Inn, in Pickering which offers visitors the chance to really embrace Yorkshire’s culture and people. You will often find sports matches playing on the TV screens, an open fireplace or two, and darts boards to play with. Things change over the weekends though, and life in Pickering gets much livelier with a couple of wine and cocktail bars thrown into the mix.