Now that we’ve moved from Lincolnshire to Yorkshire it’s opened up the possibility of visiting even more English Heritage sites with our annual pass. I love the freedom our annual pass gives us because it feels like you are having a free day out and you can return to places you wouldn’t normally return to. In fact, you can even visit places you might not normally discover.
During the Easter holidays, we had a day trip around North Yorkshire. We visited Pickering castle which is an English Heritage property, then we visited Cedar barn miniature railway which I will talk about below (not English Heritage). After this, on the way home, we visited Wharram Percy deserted medieval village which is English Heritage but is free to visit. I have reviewed Wharram Percy in a separate post.
This was part 1 of day 22 of our #80dayschallenge to have at least 80 days out in one year.
A visit to Pickering Castle – English Heritage – Review
Pickering Castle is located in the heart of Pickering in North Yorkshire. It is a spectacular part of the country for scenery and quaint little villages. Pickering is a bustling market town and it is certainly picturesque. Pickering castle sits high on the hill and overlooks the town. It’s not somewhere you will spend more than 1-2 hours and the price reflects that. It is, however, somewhere that is worth a visit.
It is free to park at Pickering castle which was good as a lot of English Heritage properties you have to pay to park at. The car park is also where you will find the toilets. There’s not a huge amount of spaces here but when we arrived at 10 am we were the only people there. It did get much busier as we were leaving but there was still plenty of spaces available.
Exploring Pickering Castle
There is a tiny little wooden hut as you enter the castle. They have a shop and this is where you purchase your tickets or show your membership card. It costs extra to purchase the guide book but we did not need one.
There’s plenty of information signs dotted around the grounds of the castle. Pickering castle was built back in the 13th Century and was used in many different ways. Such as a
royal hunting lodge, holiday home and a stud farm by a succession of medieval kings. The large central mound of the motte actually dates back to the 12th Century.
My son loved all the grassed areas for running around in. He took us on a guided tour where we started by looking in one of the towers on the far left and then we made our way around the interior of the castle. They have a few garden games dotted around which you are welcome to try out. In the past the grassed areas will have been used to house buildings for living or working in. There are still signs of some of these buildings to be found today.
The towers are now too dangerous to go up onto the top floor. But there were a couple of towers that we could look inside.
You can also still go inside the chapel that remains as the most intact part of Pickering Castle. It has had some quite recent renovations. There are a few things to look at inside the chapel including a big book all about life back when the castle was in use.
There are no paths as such at Pickering castle. Most of it should be accessible to buggies but not so much for wheelchairs. You will not be able to get up to the highest point of the motte though as that has a lot of stairs to walk up. It’s well worth the effort of getting up there as there are some lovely views to be seen.
Here are a few more photos from our visit. There is a relatively rough path that goes all around the outside of Pickering castle. I think it said it took around 20 minutes to walk all the way around.
We spent around an hour and a half at Pickering castle, we took our time during our visit.
Further Information – Pickering Castle
It is free to visit Pickering Castle if you are a member of English Heritage. The castle is open for most of the year from 10am until 6pm. Please check their website to ensure they are open on the day you wish to visit. Current prices for an adult without gift aid is £5.70 and £3.40 for a child aged 5-17 years old. Under 5’s are free.
Cedar Barn Miniature Railway
On our way to Pickering Castle, we spotted a place called Cedar Barn located on the A170 east of Pickering. It advertised a miniature railway and my son was keen to go on our way home. It’s free to park and you can use the playground and cafe without having to pay to go on the train. Cedar barn is just a 5 minutes drive from Pickering castle.
It all looks very new there and we had a delicious scone in the cafe. It wasn’t very busy when we went so there were only a few others on the train. The train runs approx. every half hour and I did see it go out a couple of times when it got busier. It runs on a 600-metre track so the journey is relatively long and they’ve placed various things by the track to look at on your way around. There’s even a tunnel! They have a lovely station office and also somewhere where you can buy drinks, snacks and fresh fruit and veg. It cost just £2.50 a ticket to ride on the train which was great value for money.
Next to the train track they also have a small playground with a slide, a playhouse with a kitchen and a wooden tractor to play on.
We still had a couple of hours to spare on this day out so next we headed to Wharram Percy deserted medieval village. I will cover our visit here in a separate post.
Find out more about becoming a member of English Heritage and for more ideas of where to visit please see – Top 15 English Heritage Sites to Visit as a Family.
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