Jonathan Smith runs Where2walk, a walking company in the Yorkshire Dales.

Jonathan has written his own book, the Dales 30 which details the highest mountains in the Dales.

He also runs one-day navigation courses for beginners and intermediates. Join his Learn a Skill, Climb a Hill weekends in the Dales.

To find out more details on any of the above visit his website,

PICKERING is one of the larger towns that fringe the North York Moors, great views north into the moors themselves whilst south the picturesque Wolds are tamer but still offer great walking.

The town itself is full of interest, particularly the fine castle and the traditional rail station, all of which can be seen in a short three-mile walk.

Start the walk at the train station. The railway line is run as a not-for-profit organisation and most of the day to day services are operated via volunteers. It is the largest preserved heritage railway in England and runs for 18 miles north to Grosmont. The line is not open at this time of the year but is running trains between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. The station itself at Pickering is a fascination in itself, a 1930s theme capped off with a magnificent roof, built in 1847.

Start the walk by crossing the river to the south of the station and turning almost immediately right/north up the road for 200 metres. Instead of following the road to the right carry on north along a signed footpath for a further 200m.

Turn left along a lane and follow this as it passes between the school on the right and a prominent hill on the left. This may have been a Motte but also may have been an outlying ‘seige’ castle overlooking the main castle to the east. It is also known as Beacon Hill. Turn right on to the main road and follow this for 400 metres to a footpath on your right.

Paralleling the road for a short while the path bends east and as it starts to drop back to the river meets a lane. The views to the main castle are excellent.

Turn left and follow this past the quarries and north for a third of a mile towards Newbridge, one of the gateways to the North York Moors National Park. The path drops to a footbridge over the river (Pickering Beck). From here climb a few metres to a good footpath leading through Lowther Woods as it returns the Pickering. The woods are lovely at any time of the year. However the highlight of the walk is still to come.On re-entering the town it is impossible to miss the castle. It is a splendid Motte and Bailey castle built by the Normans as they attempted to suppress the ‘untamed north’.

The reality though of the castle is that it was used as base for the excellent hunting in the nearby forests more than as a military stronghold. Although English Heritage do not open the castle during the winter months it is possible to walk round and imagine why it was built on such a defendable place.

Although little more than a ruin now it is still an impressive site. From the castle it is a short walk back to the station.

Fact File:

Distance: Roughly three miles

Height to Climb: 50m (165 feet)

Start: SE 797842. I have suggested starting at the train station but it is possible to start the walk at any of the nearby car parks and then head for the station.

Difficulty: Easy.

Refreshments: Pickering is full of excellent pubs and cafes, most open over the winter months.

Be Prepared:

The route description and sketch map only provide a guide to the walk. You must take out and be able to read a map (O/S Explorer 27) and in cloudy/misty conditions a compass (essential on this walk). You must also wear the correct clothing and footwear for the outdoors.

Whilst every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers head out at their own risk.