North Yorkshire Moors Railway and Pickering


Pickering is the perfect start to your steam train adventure, leaving the charming village the trains to Whitby go through stations evocative of an earlier era.

  • Levisham is an 1912 style station, accessible by one solitary hill road and suitable mainly for sheep and walkers (if they are different).
  • Newton Dale requires you to make a special request for the Guard to stop the train at this tiny, picturesque halt.
  • Goathland or should I say Aidensfield or Hogsmeade from Harry Potter, is just a few yards up the hill from the station.
  • Grosmont is a 50’s style British rail station and home for the engine sheds. ( My uncle worked for British rail as a welder, he put the tops on the pork pies).
  • So into Whitby and on some days up the Esk Valley railway to Battersby.

Book Cover

The original NYMR route started at Whitby and ran through to Malton Junction. The southern section from Pickering to Malton has long since passed into history – or has it? Read more in ‘A Nostalgic Trip Along the Former Whitby and Pickering Railway and Through to Malton’ on Amazon

Pickering and the Railway

  • Experience an unforgettable lunch, afternoon tea or dinner on board the Pullman Dining Train or eat in one of Pickering’s cafes or public houses.
  • Pickering Station is a fine  building from the 1840’s built for the York and North Midland Railwayafter they took over the Whitby and Pickering Railway.
  • Local residents set up the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Society in 1967 to preserve the line.
  •  Peter’s Railway Young Engineer’s Centre on platform 2 is an interactive exhibition for children to learn about engineering and science through storytelling.
  • Peters railway is a series of books published in Pickering

Competitive Gardening in Yorkshire

Which of Yorkshires great gardens, that are open to the public, would you think comes at the top of the pile in competitive gardening terms. RHS judges may be biased towards Harlow Carr so you can vote in our comments section below. I have gone for Parcevall Hall at Appletreewick but here are some others to tempt you or you may recommend another garden.

Newby Hall & Garden

Newby Hall and Garden is well known in the gardening fraternity as an impressive example of well designed and extensive range of garden features, expertly decorated with a diverse range of plants. The truly magnificent herbaceous borders are the central feature of the gardens but are by no means the only feature of quality. Garden rooms and themed planting provide a range of style’s that can easily be incorporated into most gardens large or small. Of particular value is the work on plant conservation and Newby boasts the best collection of the genus Cornus in the Country.” I would also add the acid lovers Azaleas, Camellias, Rhododendrons and Magnolias so recommend visiting in April or May.


Harewood House

Harewood Himalayan Garden

Known for the imposing house and sweeping terrace there is much to satisfy the gardener. The Himalayan garden and the walled vegetable area are the features I most appreciated on my last visit. Designed by Capability Brown there are 1000 acres of parkland with many sumptuous trees and even a bird garden containing many varied species.
Tours of the Queen’s cousins house are an optional extra

Burnby Hall Garden

Burnby Hall Pocklington

Two magnificent lakes hold a national collection of Water Lilies. Watch the numerous fish weave in and out of the plants then come and gaup at the tourists. Then you can walk through the Secret garden and rockeries or follow the woodland walk and pick up green gardening tips. Open March- October.

Parcevall Hall Garden Skyreholme


Tucked away in the Yorkshire dales is a retreat surrounded by wonderful gardens. Many rare plants are grown in this high garden 800 feet above sea level. Limestone is the local natural rock and formal ponds and terraces have been cut into the landscape that provides grand Yorkshire views over the surrounding hills.
In complete contrast there is also a Himalayan area for plants that like acid soils.

York Gate Garden


This is the garden near Leeds that is owned by the gardeners charity ‘Perennial’. Although small it contains many interesting features including a white garden, dwarf conifers and 14 smaller garden rooms. Design is the feature you are most impressed with as you leave this garden with the plants tucked under your arm that you know have been cultivated there.

Thorp Perrow Arboretum

jennys walk

All the fun of the trees with no little bonsai to worry about. National collections are held of Ash, Lime, Laburnum, Walnut and Cotinus plus what seems like an infinite number of Hydrangea. For the family there is also a Falconry and good coffee shop.

Ripley Castle & Gardens


Walking along from the castle terrace you get fantastic views over the lakes and deer park beyond. There is a woodland trail and an extended walk for the energetic. The large herbaceous borders create such a riot of colour between June and October each year but for me the old hot houses containing a highly impressive collection of tropical plants, ferns and cacti is the key feature.
Ancient wisteria thrive on the high south-facing walls opposite the walled kitchen garden. This is maintained in neat order with the Henry Doubleday Research Association and contains an extensive herb bed and collection of rare vegetables.

Burton Agnes Garden Driffield

I have yet to visit this garden in the East Riding hence the absence of a photo. I was recommended to look for the old walled garden with a national collection of Campanula. The topiary Yews must be seen as are many of the other features in this garden which open 1 April – 31st October and earlier for the snowdrops.



Yorkshire Rabbit or Hare You Go Sculpture

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A budding young sculptress admires one of Sophie Ryders ‘Hares’ at Yorkshire’s sculpture park. The scale of yon hare makes you wonder how fast it could run and what whippet or lurcher could catch it!

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A giant rabbit attended the Great Yorkshire Show and in the words of one news report ‘…deposited on the lawn to entertain people attending.’ Sadly no pictures are available but it was one of Sophie Ryder’s sculptures.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Sophie Ryder is renowned for using animal imagery, generally of the female hare, to explore the complexities of emotion. After graduating and leaving the RA schools in 1986 Sophie Ryder started a residency at the Yorkshire sculpture park.
For other female sculptresses at West Bretton read about Barbara Hepworth

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (1, 2 and 3) by Stephen & Claire Farnsworth CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Tea Rooms to Visit on the Yorkshire Tea Council Trail

bettys harrogate

In 1919 Frederick Belmont opened his first Bettys Café Tea Rooms in the fashionable spa town of Harrogate. It seems like I was queuing from that date as the people snaked around the corner last weekend. There are six Bettys Café Tea Rooms to explore: the spa town of Harrogate has two branches one in the town centre and a second at the RHS garden at Harlow Carr. York has one in the square opposite St Helen’s and Little Bettys is just around the corner in Stonegate. You can also also find Bettys in the market towns of Northallerton and Ilkley.

The above logo from the Tea Guild has an Afternoon tea group that may interest those who like to pause in welcoming surroundings with a good cup of tea and a bite to eat. The Yorkshire locations include:

De Vere Oulton Hall – West Yorkshire
The George Hotel – Huddersfield
Swinton Park – North Yorkshire
Bagden Hall – West Yorkshire
Grinkle Park – North Yorkshire

Other Tea Council locations include Elizabeth Botham & Sons, plus Bullivant both of York and The Black Swan Hotel, Market Place, Helmsley. The Bridge Tea Rooms in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire has been named as the winner of The Tea Guild’s prestigious Top Tea Place 2009 Award but that is not the Bradford Yorkshire where I have still to discover a true tea room but see Shipley’s earlier story.

The UK Tea Council’s “incognito” Tea Guild inspectors have taken tea in tearooms and country and city hotels across Britain, to find the finest tea experience. The anonymous judges award points in fifteen different categories which include the variety and excellence of the teas offered, efficiency and knowledge of service, décor, hygiene and cleanliness, ambience, presentation skills and most importantly the choice and quality of teas served. That seems like a fine job to have I wonder how much you have to pay them to go eating and drinking Teas?

Just a note on the Tockwith Tea Party where Betty’s of Fat Rascal fame sought to stop Fat Betty’s Cheese Nibbles from being made and sold. I understand the Cheese nibbles won but crumbs what a fuss.


Help for Yorkshire Business

How's Business?

Take a trip to Australia to increase your exports and international trade. If that is too expensive in time and money visit Doing Business Down Under 28th March 2012, Electric Works Sheffield Digital Campus Sheffield. This is a joint promotion between Yorkshire Gold Business Club and UK Trade & Investment and it is free.

‘Australia is the world’s 14th largest economy with a per capita GDP which is level with the four richest European countries. Australia’s economic growth averaged 3.4% for the past 10 years and is predicted to grow at around 4% for the next two. Its proximity to the world’s fastest growing region, the Asia Pacific, will greatly assist UK companies looking to expand into this region.
When you add to this Australia’s very similar culture, legal, accounting and regulatory practices, and a lifestyle the envy of the world – you have an outstanding location for British businesses.’
Yorkshire Gold Business Club is managed by Square 5 Business Networks Ltd and is a not for profit organisation.

Business link has lost its teeth and most of the helpful funding for start-ups and SME’s. Many would argue it never had any teeth. Business Link is now the UK government’s online resource for businesses and has no Yorkshire centric focus.

The Yorkshire Mafia have their annual Conference 2012 at The Royal Armouries, Leeds March 21st and 22nd.
Pick the brains of Yorkshire most successful business people where 155 exhibition stands are sold out and over 3200 business people have already registered to attend. It claims to be the Norths preeminent business conference and networking opportunity.

Business School
Business School in Church

How’s Business? by Richard Carter CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 A busy market day in Hebden Bridge
Business School by iwouldstay CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Yorkshire’s Sweet Tooth

Liquorice Loot


Pomfret is an early name for Pontefract and as most Yorkshire children know, Pontefract is the heart of Yorkshires liquorice making. Around the time of the Battle of Hastings, French monks arrived in Pontefract with liquorice plants for medicinal and stomach purposes and locals created a cottage industry that led to such treats as ‘Yorkshire Pennies’ ‘Catherine Wheels’, Pomfret cakes, Bootlaces and other sweetmeats made from chewy black liquorice.
Pomfret cakes or Pontefract cakes were first created when sugar was added to the liquorice stock and an image of the Norman castle stamped into the round black sweet that was created. The castle has a morbid history Richard II was imprisoned and probably murdered, in Pontefract Castle in 1400. In 1648 to March 1649 Oliver Cromwells New Model Army was engaged in the successful siege of Pontefract Castle that led to its ruination. ‘Pomfret, Pomfret! O thou bloody prison’ as Shakespeare put it in his play Richard III.

Fast forward to the 1840’s when a Sheffield business Bassett and Lodge started a confectionery business that eventually created ‘Liquorice Allsorts’. The Allsorts mix apocryphally was created by a clumsy salesman who spilt a tray of various liquorice creams and sweets in a pattern that appealed to the customer. In 1918 they started to manufacture jelly products called ‘Peace Babies’ which we all now know and love as Jelly Babies. In the 1920’s as a logo the company created “Bertie Bassett,” a human like figure made up of liquorice allsorts. On the strength of the liquorice products such as Ju-Jubes and the Allsorts, Bassett’s bought other brands that included Victory V Lozenges, Zubes, Sherbet Fountains and Beech Nut. I fondly remember the beech nut chewing gum machines which vended an extra packet every 3rd or 4th purchase, what fun it seemed to be getting something for nothing.
Mint based products from Bassett’s included Mint Imperials, Murray Mints and Clarnico Mint Creams.

Needlers started making boiled sweets in Hull in 1886. One of their key innovations was to start selling sweets in clear glass jars rather than the bottle-green glass that had been used previously. All sweets and chocolates were unwrapped and Needles were producing over 2000 tons a year by the early 1920’s but in 1928 they invested in a wrapping machine.
By the 1970’s the chocolate business was loosing money and unfortunately had to be closed but investment in the sugar based lines led to the introduction of the Sensation’ range of vacuum packed mints and fruit pastilles. Needlers bought Batgers Ltd the makers of Jersey Toffee and moved production to Hull.

Thorntons first Chocolate Kabin opened in Sheffield in 1911 aiming to be the best sweetshop in town. Easter and the production of special and named Easter eggs became an important part of business for Thorntons. Then special toffee was created in 1925 and production required larger premises in Penistone Road Sheffield. The chocolate business developed by focusing on quality and learning from contenetal manufacturers particularly in Holland and Belgium. The business floated on the stock market but unfortunately the business moved downmarket into Derbyshire. There is still likely to be a Thorntons Kabin near you (based on my post code I found 6 shops within 10 miles).

See an earlier report on Maxons boiled sweets.  All this and still no mention of Rowntrees, Macintoshes,  Terrys, Yorkshire Mixtures or even Farrah’s Original Harrogate Toffee. If you have a favourite Yorkshire sweet that I have missed   send us a comment below.
Thanks to Maurice Baren ‘How it All Began in Yorkshire’ and The Oldest Sweet Shop in England at Pateley Bridge.

Pontefract Cakes
Liquorice Loot by Jon Åslund CC BY 2.0


Ladies Days At Yorkshire Racecourses

Snow Business

If you have an eye for a good horse then go to one of Yorkshires premier Racecourses this summer on Ladies day. Below is a list of special event when the Ladies can dress up (to loose money if you bet on horses like this one).

Ladies Days 2010

Course                   Day                    Date

Wetherby              Thursday          20th May

Thirsk                      Tuesday           15th June

Ripon                      Thursday          17th June

Redcar                     Saturday          19th June

Pontefract             Wednesday      4th August

Beverley                 Wednesday     11th August

Catterick                 Friday eve      13th August

York                         Thursday         19th August

Doncaster               Thursday         9th September

Racecourse Enclosures

Members, County or Premier enclosures are top of the range areas in price and dress code and often viewing.
The Grandstand and the Paddock are where to find the heart of the action, traditionally called Tattersalls.
The less expensive Course Enclosure is not as formal but it is just as easy to loose your money with the bookmakers here.


Days Out for Kids to age 92

With Half Term and Easter just around the corner you may want some ideas where to take the kids or grandchildren for a day out. This is just a short selection of Yorkshire based attractions and I would add the Royal Armouries in Leeds and the National Media Museum in Bradford.

Jorvik Viking Centre is a York based time travel experience that is worth queuing for ‘Whether it has been five or fifteen years or even your first time to visit JORVIK, the JORVIK Viking Centre has something new for everyone’ ‘Vikings were warriors. More precisely, Viking is the name by which the Scandinavian sea-borne raiders of the early medieval period are now commonly known.’ Dig around in York there is a wealth of interesting historical activities you can get the children involved with.

The Magna Science Adventure Centre at Rotherham ‘Leap, twist and climb your way around mind-blowing structures and gravity defying activities at one of Europe’s largest outdoor play areas or Spray, squirt, mist and drench…and more importantly get very, very wet at one of the UK’s largest outdoor water play areas.’ If that sounds like the fun your children will enjoy then Magna may work for you.

The Deep ‘The worlds only Submarium’ in Hull is a winner of many awards which include gold award for The Green Tourism Business Scheme and silver for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2009 and it should have got another award for inventing a new word so it can claim to be ‘the worlds only’. With attractions such as Slime, Coral Realm, Kingdom of Ice and a Twilight zone there is something for everyone including the 3500 fish. The Deep in Hull you will find fun and an education about our seas.

Eureka moments come only occasionally when you get to my age but kids up to age 10 experience them at every twist and turn of this Halifax museum. ‘Everything at Eureka! has been designed to inspire children to find out about themselves and the world around them through 100s of hands-on exhibits’.

National Coal Mining Museum (NCM) at Overton near Wakefield explores mining through the centuries. Don a hard hat and descend into a mine then visit the pit ponies to find out what they did for the mining effort. Admission is free!

York Castle Museum ‘is one of Britain’s leading museums of everyday life. It shows how people used to live by displaying thousands of household objects. It is best known for its recreated Victorian street, which combines real shop fittings and stock with modern sound and light effects, to evoke an atmosphere of Victorian Britain. Prison buildings are explored in York Castle Prison, where visitors come face to face with ex-prisoners including highwayman Dick Turpin, who was hanged in 1739 for horse stealing.’ Tickets do allow you to revisit during the next 12 months if you can’t take it all in at one visit.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park is South Yorkshires newest attraction of 45 acres of walkthrough including Lemur Woods and Wallaby walkabout. Ideal for environmentally friendly children who want to see a range of animals including the most endangered the Painted Hunting Dog. May only open at weekends until summer but check here.


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