Although we both love travelling and exploring new cultures, we realised over coffee and conversation one lazy Sunday afternoon, that we had rarely traveled much within the UK itself. It has therefore become our mission to explore new places around the British Isles and discover the historic treasures of our own country and culture, with our first (literal) port of call being the seaside town of Whitby in North Yorkshire.
Nestled on the estuary of the river Esk at the tip of the East Yorkshire coast, Whitby is accessible by road through the North York Moors national park. It is a breathtakingly beautiful route, with magnificent hills and ridges of moorland covered in purple heather that roll by as you drive down the long, winding stretch of Whitby Road.
As we descended into the town, we noticed the numerous Park and Ride plots which line the perimeter of Whitby and it soon became clear why. The parking in Whitby is very limited, with most spaces marked as reserved for permit holders and no-nonsense double yellows warning you away from others. But with both the sun and good fortune shining upon us, we found a space at the top of Upgang Lane and meandered down towards the harbour.
As you walk through Whitby, you will notice how charming and classical the architecture of the houses are. Whitby became popular with tourists in the Georgian period and this is certainly apparent from the style of buildings here.
When we reached the bustling harbour, we noticed families with fishing rods and buckets along the promenade delighting in the truly British seaside activity of crabbing. It was so cute to hear the animated exclamations of the children as they realise they’ve made a catch! If people watching is your thing, there are an abundance of characters here for you to observe, particularly the Goths with whom Whitby is so popular!
We then crossed over the bridge in search of Fish and Chips, however it’s easy to get side-tracked in Whitby by the plethora of traditional and unusual shops that litter the streets.
Of course we had to go and have a look inside!
It was interesting to discover that Whitby has accepted the Gothic sub-culture with open arms and has many shops and stalls that cater for their dark and mysterious fashion tastes. We especially loved this hot sauce stand on the corner of the market place and couldn’t resist buying a pot of chili jam after being served a sample from a skeleton hand!
Fish and Chips moved even further back on our priorities as we embarked up the 199 steps towards Whitby Abbey. If you don’t like heights then our tip would be not to look down until you reach the top as the steep climb of the stairs towards the church and the Abbey are quite dizzying! We promise the climb is worth panting for when you get to this:
It’s easy to see why Bram Stoker used the eerie backdrop of Whitby for his 1897 Gothic Horror novel, Dracula.
As well as the haunting Abbey, the view from the cliff side allows you to take in the magnificent Yorkshire coastline, which is truly stunning.
All the jumping and walking had really made us hungry by this point though so we headed back down the 199 steps in search of lunch, promising ourselves not to get distracted this time!
As it was a little windy in the unforgiving cold March air, we chose a cafe where we could sit down and warm up! This is definitely a pricier option than just ordering from a chippie on the pier, but after a couple of hours walking, we decided we deserved a treat and ordered two Fish and Chips, a Victorian lemonade and ginger beer.
Monks Haven Fish and Chips were everything you hope and dream for in this classic British dish. The golden batter was crisp and perfect, the chips; fluffy and moreish and served with a choice of mushy or garden peas. It was simply fantastic and the portion size almost put us in a food coma after lunch. That was, until we headed into the infamous Dracula experience, which left Steph looking like this:
Luckily we were able to comfort ourselves with some delicious Yorkshire ice-cream and enjoy the charms of Whitby’s fishing heritage, including a huge monumental arch which we discovered was an actual Whale jaw bone in homage to Whitby’s past links to the whaling industry.
We then made our way up (MORE) steps to view the monument of Captain Cook, who was the first to discover the East Coast of Australia and New Zealand in 1770. With our impending trip, we thought it best we tip our metaphorical hats to Captain Cook although we noticed the birds had a little less respect for his monumental discoveries…
After a wonderful day exploring this beautiful seaside town, it was unfortunately time for us to make our way back to the car and head home. Whitby was a truly magical day out and we had such a great time!
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