We spent a few days away last week at a beautiful little cottage in the village of Pickering, North Yorkshire. I had the week off work and wanted to take Sam and Florence away somewhere so we could have some fun and a few adventures away from the stresses of life at home. It was the first time we’ve been away just the three of us, as every other holiday we’ve either been with friends or family, and it was a good time for us to go for it.
That might sound strange as of course I’m on my own with the kids all the time, but I think holidays are a bit different and I’ve felt like I needed the help, support and adult company! But I really liked the idea of us going away on our own this time, just to make sure we spent our time off school and work doing something a bit different and above all, enjoying ourselves.
I wanted to stay somewhere in the North Yorkshire area, preferably near York as one of my best friends lives there and I wanted to tie our trip in with a visit to see her and her little ones. I also wanted to be able to drive to the coast for a day, to take the kids to either Whitby, Scarborough or Filey, where we went last summer.
We found Westgate Cottage through Sykes Cottages, and it was the perfect location for us. Mid-way between York and Whitby, Pickering is a pretty little market town quiet enough for us to be able to switch off, but busy enough for there to be a few pubs, a supermarket and a great fish and chip shop (the fab Eastgate Fisheries) within easy reach.
We arrived at the cottage in the afternoon and were met by the owner, Sarah, whose family live in the adjacent house which is also a B&B. She was so welcoming as she showed us round, and had even baked a cake for us too. That’s something that’s never happened to me in a holiday home before,and it was very, very welcome. It doubled up as a birthday cake for Roger, as it would have been his birthday on the day we arrived.
As well as the really good cake, Sarah chatted to us about things to do in the local area, giving us tips on places to eat, days out and things not to miss. One of these was Dalby Forest just a 15 minute drive away, so we visited that afternoon.
Dalby has a number of walking trails for all abilities, and we would have done the Stick Man one had we had more time. It’s a two-mile route suitable for young families, with fun activities to complete on the way round. There are similar ones in other forests, such as in Delamere – you can read a review on my friend Karen’s blog if you like.
We didn’t have time for the trail as it was about 15.30 by the time we arrived, but we did have time to explore the brilliant adventure play area and grab a drink in the cafe. As you can see, the play area has loads of things to keep the little ones busy, and even though it was drizzling and really muddy, we managed to have a go on most things and get away without getting too dirty. I think I was the one most likely to slip on the mud, as my wellies for some reason don’t have any grips. Must fix that!
Entrance to the forest car park is about £7 for a car, so well worth going early if you can so you can make the most of everything there. For older children and grown-ups there is a Go Ape on site too.
In Pickering itself, there is plenty to explore and you could easily spend a day or two having a good look round with attractions such as Pickering Castle and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. The steam train leaves Pickering for Whitby, and although we didn’t go on it we did have lunch one day at a lovely cafe called Mulberry’s which is right next to the station platform. With seating outside, you get the perfect view of the trains coming in and out of the station while the little ones play on the wooden train – and you can get a cup of tea at the same time! Such a great find and I’d really recommend checking it out if you visit Pickering.
The castle was really fun too and perfect for for the kids to run off a bit of steam themselves (sorry!). While we were in Whitby, we bought a membership to English Heritage so we could visit Whitby Abbey and Pickering Castle during our stay, and so many more properties around the country for the next year. Going into the ruins was something I thought Sam and Flo might not be interested in but they got so much enjoyment from it, it’s really opened my eyes to what brilliant places castles and historic sites are for children. All that open space for them to run about in, and a bit of history in there too.
I have so many photographs from our trip to Whitby that I’ll put those in a separate post. We loved it so much we’ll certainly be going back, and when we do, we’d love to book in at Westgate Cottage again. It really was a little home from home.