Pickering Castle


Hubby and I love visiting historic sites and experiencing the excitement of attempting to visualise what life must have been like, we also feel sad that sometimes there are only ruins left. Pickering Castle is just such a site.

Originally a motte-and-bailey fortification, this splendid 13th Century Castle has been used throughout the centuries. Situated in the heart of the North York Moors National Park, the buildings have been a royal hunting lodge, holiday home and stud farm throughout the years. Wander around the shell of what must have been an impressive fortress. Apart from grassed areas, be aware there are steep stone steps to contend with and unfortunately, not very wheelchair friendly.

Started by William the Conqueror, shortly after the Norman Conquest as part of an attempt to gain control over the North, it has been owned by an impressive list of kings throughout the ages.

The small chapel is the only surviving roofed building and the first mention of a chapel is in 1227. There is an informative exhibition housed in the chapel. The shell of the Keep originally had two entrances, both giving access to the tops of the walls.

Entrance is through English Heritage, and we were lucky to find a parking space just outside. There is a steep road leading from the town up to the castle. A pleasant, interesting way to spend an afternoon.

Pickering town is a joy and a place we have visited many times when our children were young. This is our first visit for quite some years, and although some businesses have come and gone, it’s still a place that leaves you feeling happy. Mondays are market days, with stalls selling clothes, toys, breads and cakes to name a few. There are many good eateries and independent shops. Two supermarkets, a co-op and a Lidl, several car parks (chargeable using cash or card) and free toilets. The town is so well situated to visit the many excellent tourist attractions around.

In all the times we holidayed in the area, we had no idea the castle was so close. So observant!

Pickering is on the border of the North York Moors National Park and although a small population of around 7000, the town unusually has a swimming pool, library, theatre and sports clubs along with a large community park. Least but not last, the wonderful North Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway – a must for all.

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