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A classic Yorkshire town with plenty of history and the starting point of the North York Moors Railway

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The Yorkshire town of Pickering was supposedly founded several hundred years before the birth of Christ, by the mythical king Peredurus. Archaeologists are unable to tell for certain when people first settled here. All they do know for certain is that by the time of the Anglo Saxons, over 1000 years ago, there was definitely a town beginning to grow.

Pickering High Street
Photo Charles Rispin
Pickering found itself in a perfect location, close by to all the resources of the moorland to the north, the wetland to the south, the woods all around, and the stream that runs through the centre of town. It soon grew into a busy market town, and more recently, into a popular destination for tourists. The surrounding natural scenery provides plenty of opportunities for exploring.
As you approach Pickering, the first thing that you'll catch sight of will probably be the church spire. The main building is hidden behind a row of houses and shops, so you'll have to go closer to see it. If you enter the church through its main doors, you'll immediately be confronted by its most striking feature: the huge, dramatic wall paintings. These images, which date from the 15th century, were uncovered during a restoration project in the 1800s. They mostly feature images of saints, such as St. George slaying a dragon, and St. Christopher on a long pilgrimage. It is thought that many years ago, almost every church would have had paintings like these. Today though, Pickering Parish Church can claim to have the most complete collection in England.

Pickering Church after a fall of snow
Photo TourNorfolk
To the north, you'll find the remains of Pickering Castle. This was originally a wooden structure, constructed in the 12th century. It was rebuilt over the years using stone, and it is this latter building that is still visible today. The walls and towers are mostly in ruins, but you can still see the layout of the fortress very clearly. The main keep sits on top of a mound of earth, which is surrounded by a ditch. This is flanked by battlements, which would have made for a very strong defence.

Pickering Castle
Photo TourNorfolk
If you're staying for a few days in Pickering, then you can go for a great day trip on the board the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. The route heads north, up to the coastal town of Whitby. In truth, though, just travelling on the railway is worth your time. The wooden panels of the carriages, and the steam pouring from the locomotive will both make you feel like you live in the 19th century.

Pickering Station on the North York Moors Railway
Photo TourNorfolk
Three kilometres east of Pickering is a slightly smaller village called Thornton le Dale. It's one of the prettiest settlements in the county, which makes it popular with passers-by, despite its small size. There are plenty of cafes and teashops, where you can sit and relax.
The most famous place in Thornton le Dale is Beck Isle Cottage, which you'll probably have seen on calendars and chocolate boxes. It stands next to a gentle stream, with colourful flowers growing up its walls towards an old thatched roof. It's one of the most photographed buildings in Yorkshire, a fact that should really come as little surprise once you've seen it for yourself!

Beck Isle Cottage in Thornton le Dale
Photo TourNorfolk
Visitor Information
North Yorkshire Moors Railway is open weekdays throughout the year and Sundays during the summer. Ticket prices cost around £16 for adults, £8 for children (Rover Pickering-Grosmont) £21 for adults, £10.50 for children (Pickering-Whitby Day Rover). 12 Park Street, Pickering, North Yorkshire, YO18 7AJ. Tel: 01751 472 508

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