Pickering, Dalby Forest and our stay with Sykes Cottages

Pickering station

Westgate Cottage in Pickering

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.

Pickering station

Flo at Pickering Castle

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.

Pickering Castle

Pickering Castle scene

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.

Bedroom at Westgate Pickering

Westgate twin room

Tea and cake

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.

x Julia

Dalby Forest

Park at Dalby Forest

Dalby Forest park


Sam at Pickering Castle

Westgate Cottage in Pickering

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  • Reply
    Mini TravellerS
    April 14, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    Looks like a fantastic cottage and just perfect for what you all needed. Some time to run out and spend quality time with each other. Love the look of the playground there mine would have a ball.
    Mini TravellerS recently posted…Introducing #UKexploreMy Profile

  • Reply
    elizabeth Allum
    April 14, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Lovely recommendations, thanks! Xxx

  • Reply
    April 14, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    It looks like you had such a lovely break and the cottage looks gorgeous! x
    Donna recently posted…Review: Paw Patrol MagazineMy Profile

    • Reply
      April 18, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      Thanks Donna, it was, I’d love to go back! x

  • Reply
    Hayley Smith @hayleyfromhome
    April 15, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Sounds lovely, I love staying in holiday cottages and one of my friends uses Sykes all the time, she swears by them! Nice to have the owners close by too when they are there for advice and even better when they bring you cake!! I love that! I can see why you wanted to get away just you and the kids I’m glad you all enjoyed it. Looking forward to seeing more photos, I’ve always wanted to visit Whitby or Filey, I think I must be the only person who hasn’t holidays there as a kid 🙂 xx
    Hayley Smith @hayleyfromhome recently posted…Moments To RememberMy Profile

    • Reply
      April 18, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      Thanks Hayley, yes the cake was a definite bonus 🙂 You would love the east coast, Whitby, Filey and Scarborough are all perfect for kids. I know it is a bit of a drive for us but worth it! xx

  • Reply
    Tracey Williams
    April 15, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    How beautiful is the front door and a cottage that comes with cake gets my vote. I love Yorkshire but we have never visited Pickering before. It sounds the ideal location though as we also love York and Filey. Sounds as if you had the perfect break Julia x
    Tracey Williams recently posted…Little Loves – Girl on the Train, Little Mix and Sunshine in GreeceMy Profile

    • Reply
      April 18, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      It was really lovely Tracey – an the front door is lovely isn’t it?! So sweet xx

  • Reply
    Lindsay At Newcastle Family Life
    April 15, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    I have just recently stayed in North Yorkshire too, near Scarborough and I fell in love with the beautiful coutryside. It sounds like you had a lovely little holiday, the cottage looks really nice and homely and how sweet that they baked a cake. Your photos are so lovely xx
    Lindsay At Newcastle Family Life recently posted…Ox Pasture Hall A Luxury Country House Hotel In North Yorkshire – ReviewMy Profile

    • Reply
      April 18, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Thanks Lindsay, I’ll have a read of your post now as I always like to find out about new places to stay, especially in this area xx

  • Reply
    sarah christie
    April 15, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Julia what an amazing welcome, the cottage looks so cute and what a beautiful location. I am so glad you all had a great time, getting away makes such a difference doesn’t it? It always does us so much good. Life is chaos at the best of times and this was such a well deserved break for you all x
    sarah christie recently posted…A Postcard From Ikos Oceania Day 4My Profile

    • Reply
      April 18, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      Thanks Sarah, the welcome was fantastic and the break did us all so much good! x

  • Reply
    April 16, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Ahh this is all so close to where my family live and where we spend a lot of time too. North Yorkshire is gorgeous and you captured it beautifully, Glad you had a great visit and beautiful lodgings x

    • Reply
      April 18, 2016 at 8:25 pm

      Thank you! You must know it all so well then – really such a nice place to visit x

  • Reply
    April 16, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Looks fab!! What a super place, and that playground looks amazing 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it xx

    • Reply
      April 18, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      Thanks Jess, the playground was fab and loads of stuff for all ages too x

  • Reply
    Katie LifeonVistaStreet Haydock
    April 17, 2016 at 6:47 am

    This looks like an ideal trip for a little family – and from the snaps it looks like it did you all good. So many smiles – it’s lovely to see.
    I’d be made up if someone made me a Victoria sponge too – they are my ultimate favourite!! xx
    Katie LifeonVistaStreet Haydock recently posted…18 Slimming World Struggles & How To Overcome ThemMy Profile

    • Reply
      April 18, 2016 at 8:35 pm

      You should totally visit the east coast Katie, Filey, Whitby and Scarborough are all perfect for families and little ones! x

  • Reply
    Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper
    April 17, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    Glad you had a lovely break, and it’s such a beautiful area. I went to uni in Leeds and I really miss my time spent up north, I must take my little ones to visit too sometime x

    • Reply
      April 18, 2016 at 8:21 pm

      Ah did you? I am from Ilkley and still go over a lot. Love Leeds too! x

  • Reply
    Me and Mine April 2016 - Rainbeaubelle
    May 2, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    […] – like marking Roger’s birthday, taking our first little family of three trip away to North Yorkshire, and training for the Great Birmingham 10k, which I’m running with 20 plus colleagues from […]

  • Reply
    Five things we love about Whitby - Rainbeaubelle
    June 6, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    […] we were on holiday in North Yorkshire last month. It was the beginning of April when we stayed in a cottage in Pickering, ideally placed to visit our friends in York as well as the coastal towns of Whitby, Scarborough or […]

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