Pickering is a market and agricultural town in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire, with the North York Moors rising behind. The town slumped from 1965 when it lost its railway, but this helped preserve its historic centre. It revived from 1973 when the line was restored as a heritage steam railway and tourism developed, and in 2011 it had a population of 6830.
The town is probably named for an Anglo-Saxon called Picer, so his family and dependents would be called Pickerings. The Domesday Book of 1086 counted 30 villagers organised into 9 plough-teams, and the whole lot was worth £1 and tuppence.
The nearest mainline railway station is Malton. This has hourly trains from Liverpool Lime Street via Manchester Victoria, Leeds and York to Malton and Scarborough. From London and the south, change at York. At Malton change for Coastliner Bus 840; the bus and railway stations are adjacent.
Pickering is the south terminus of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It's a heritage standard-gauge line running from Whitby, often steam-hauled, and seasonal, see below. In summer there are four trains a day so it's a realistic transport option.
1 Pickering Railway Station is on Park Street north side of town centre.
Coastliner 840 runs from Malton via Eden Camp and Kirby Misperton (for Flamingo Land) to Pickering (25 min), then continues to Thornton le Dale. This service runs every 90 min M-Sa but only twice on Sunday. Two buses daily continue across the moors from Thornton to Goathland and Whitby.
Coastliner 843 runs roughly hourly from Leeds via Tadcaster and York to Malton, continuing to Scarborough. This means that some but not all 843s connect with the 840 to Pickering, and you might do better to take the train as far as Malton. The bus from Malton to Filey and Bridlington has been axed.
April-Sept Friday and Saturday, the Moors Bus runs twice from Malton to Pickering, Kirkbymoorside and Danby. The morning and evening buses are from and to York. On Sunday April-Sept they also run once from Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees and Middlesbrough and twice from Guisborough via Danby and Kirbymoorside to Pickering.
From the south take A64 east past York to Malton then A169 north; this road winds on across the moors from Pickering to Whitby.
A170 crosses the moors from Thirsk: caravans and heavy vehicles must not attempt Sutton Bank, where the road climbs the western scarp of the moors. A170 continues east via Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside to Pickering, and on through Brompton to Scarborough.
There are car parks on Eastgate (near the roundabout), The Ropery and Vivis Lane. Whilst The Ropery is short stay, Vivis Lane and Eastgate are long stay. All three car parks are operated by Ryedale District Council.
All approach roads and car parks get very congested on summer weekends.
Walk - everything in town is close by. But you'll need wheels to get out into the moors.
- The attractive old town is centred on Market Place.
- St Peter and St Paul's Church on Hall Garth is an Anglican church with remarkable wall paintings from circa 1450. They were plastered over in the Reformation and forgotten until 1852 when the plaster crumbled: the affronted vicar had them whitewashed over. His successor 25 years later had them restored.
- St Joseph's RC Church on Potter Hill dates from 1911.
- 1 Beck Isle Museum of Rural Life, Bridge St, Pickering YO18 8DU, ☏ . Apr–Oct daily 10:00-17:00. Local history museum: the early 19th C building was for many years a medical practice. Exhibits major on the Victorian era. Adult £7, child £4 (under 5 free), conc £6, family £18.
- 2 Pickering Castle, Castlegate YO18 7AX, ☏ . Daily 10:00-17:00. Norman castle, built in stone in the 12th C replacing a timber fort. It's well preserved as it took little part in later conflicts such as the Wars of the Roses or Civil War. Adult £6.50, child £3.90, conc £5.90.
- The town park is just north of the castle.
- Pickering Railway Station, Park Street YO18 7AJ. Daily 09:00-18:00. You can stroll around the station and watch the steam trains free without buying a ticket. The station tea room serves meals and snacks and there's a souvenir shop. The line is 24 miles of standard gauge from Pickering via Levisham, Newtondale, Goathland and Grosmont to Whitby - moorland walks branch off from the intermediate halts. Trains run Apr-Oct with four or more per day at the height of summer.
- 3 Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole YO62 6UA (5 miles northwest of town), ☏ . Daily to Sept 10:00-17:00, Oct - mid-Nov 10:00-16:00. Small museum of local life on the moors. A small gallery has rotating art exhibitions. Adult £8.75, child & conc £7.
- See North York Moors for Dalby Forest.
- See Helmsley for Nunnington Hall and Rievaulx Abbey.
- See Malton for Castle Howard.
- Trips on the steam railway across the moors to Whitby - see above. Day trips are feasible.
- 1 Northern Ryedale Leisure Centre, Lady Lumley School, 41 Swainsea Lane, Pickering YO18 8NG, ☏ . M-F 17:00-21:30, Sa 09:30-17:30, Su 10:30-20:30. Gym, climbing wall, sports hall and fitness classes. There isn't a pool.
- 2 Ryedale Swim and Fitness Centre, Mill Lane, Pickering YO18 8DJ, ☏ . M-F 07:00-22:00, Sa Su 08:30-16:00. Gym and 25 m swimming pool.
- Kirk Theatre is unlikely to reopen before 2021.
- 3 Flamingo Land - see Malton for this Theme Park and zoo.
- See Helmsley for Ryedale Show, held in Kirkbymoorside in July.
- Ryedale Jazz Festival is held in late July. The next event is 24-30 July 2021 in Pickering Memorial Hall. The resident jazz group also holds gigs on the second Wednesday of each month from 19:30 at the Beansheaf Hotel along the road to Malton.
- Market day is Monday, with Market Place closed to traffic. The Country Market is Th 09:30-11:30 in WRVS Hall on Hungate.
- The Hidden Market indoors off Market Place is mostly homeware and clothing. Coop Food is next door.
- Lidl in town centre is the main superstore. It's open M-Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 10:00-16:00.
- Caffe Stop, 1 Eastgate Square, Pickering YO18 7DP. M-Sa 08:00-16:00, Su 09:00-15:00. Family-run cafe with breakfast, lunch, coffee, drinks and snacks; has tables and outdoor seating.
- Figaro, 2 Birdgate, Pickering YO18 7AL, ☏ . Daily 17:00-21:00. Cheerful place serves pizza and other Italian staples.
- Spice 4 U, 41 Hungate, Pickering YO18 7DG, ☏ . Daily 17:30-23:30. Reliable Indian restaurant serves all the classics.
- White Swan gets the best ratings in town for food, see Sleep.
- Rose Inn on Bridge St gets mixed reviews for service and food quality.
- Black Swan on Birdgate has rooms, see Sleep.
- Bay Horse, 8 Market Place, Pickering YO18 7AA, ☏ . Daily 11:30-23:30. Friendly central pub has good food.
- 1 The Sun, 136 Westgate, Pickering YO18 8BB, ☏ . M-Th 16:00-23:00, F Sa 12:00-00:00, Su 12:00-23:00. Traditional free house serves Tetleys Cask and five guest ales plus selection of cider. Beer garden, dog-friendly, often has live music.
- 1 Ingledene Beckside Campsite, Mill Lane, Pickering YO18 8DJ, ☏ . Friendly well-run camping and caravan site half a mile south of town, open year round. Pitch £20, hook-up £24.
- White Swan Hotel, Market Place, Pickering YO18 7AA, ☏ . Charming small hotel in centuries-old inn. Some street and bar noise. B&B double £190.
- 2 The Black Swan, 18 Birdgate, Pickering YO18 7AL, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 17th century coaching inn with its own brewery, good food. B&B double £90.
- 3 Forest and Vale Hotel (Best Western), Malton Rd, Pickering YO18 7DLT, ☏ . Well-run friendly franchise hotel in Georgian mansion. B&B double £110.
- Hungate Cottages, Pickering YO18 7ET, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 11 self-catering cottages near town centre, the smaller cottages sleep 4, the largest 11. Rentals are by the week from Saturday, shorter breaks available out of season. Dogs welcome in several cottages. From £440 / week.
- 4 Lastingham Grange, High St, Lastingham YO62 6TH, ☏ . Charming little hotel in 17th C farmhouse with extensive gardens, set in North York Moors. Open mid-Mar to mid-Nov. B&B double from £190.
Pickering has a good mobile and 4G signal from all UK carriers. As of June 2020, 5G has not reached this area.
- Whitby has a ruined abbey; it's where Dracula reached England, perhaps drawn by the town's potted crab.
- Scarborough is a Victorian seaside resort. Cliffs stretch north through picturesque Robin Hood's Bay to Whitby; south is Filey, Bridlington and Flamborough Head.
- York retains its medieval walls and has a great collection of sights and attractions.