Pickering is a busy market town on the edge of the North York Moors, set between castle, church and river, with handsome streets, tucked-away alleys and quiet corners to explore. It's best known for its heritage railway, but also has lots of other local attractions, from history museum to nearby Roman site. Market day is Monday, and there's a farmers' market on the first Thursday of each month.
Things to see and do
Pickering Castle has guarded the town since medieval times – no fewer than six English kings have stayed here. Meanwhile, in the parish church of St Peter and St Paul you'll see magnificent 15th-century wall-paintings – beautiful relics of the days before printed books.
The lives of ordinary people are celebrated at the Beck Isle Museum of Rural Life, where recreated shop interiors, household items and farm machinery shine a light on 200 years of local history.
Pickering is the southern terminus of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which has been preserved and run by enthusiasts since 1973. It runs for 24 miles through the spectacular scenery of the National Park to Whitby, calling at stations at Levisham, Newtondale, Goathland and Grosmont.
Cawthorn Roman Camps is a fascinating archaeological site – there's an easy access walk and panoramic views.
Newbridge Park is a woodland area below the castle with cross-country cycle trails, jump park and pump track, picnic area, nature play, and woodland walking. Walking in the woods is free but to ride you need to be a member (weekly pass £2, individuals (adults and children) £10 per year, annual family ticket £20 – available from Trailblazer Outdoors in Pickering Market Place). The money helps support the woodland management and upkeep of the park, and there are loads of member discounts on offer with local businesses.
Ryedale Sports Centre is open daily for sports hall activities, and also has a climbing wall, tennis courts and astroturf pitch.
Eating and drinking
There's a fair choice of pubs, cafés and restaurants in Pickering, with several places specialising in locally sourced produce. There are also bakeries, delis and an organic farm shop.
Festivals and events
The North Yorkshire Moors Railway hosts special events throughout the year, including the popular Railway in Wartime weekend (October), which turns the clock back to 1940s with street parades, vehicle displays and re-enactments along the railway line.