Whitby Stories and Tips


Don't imagine that Whitby is still a quiet fishing town, because it is on the tourist trail and inundated with visitors. But despite this I think it still retains some of its quaint old English charm and it is worth a visit. It’s famously known as the "home port" of Captain Cook but more renown as the place where Dracula, in the form of a large black dog, leapt ashore from a drifting crewless ship (according to the novelist Bram Stoker). It's the town where the original Dracula movie was screened, back in the early 1930, so Whitby has recent notoriety as the home of the underworld—a feature that the town's Dracula Experience shamelessly exploits. I have to confess not having visited this attraction, but it does seem to be popular with younger people.

Whitby is a town of two distinct halves; one side being the ’trippy’ section with arcades, candy floss stalls, hot dogs, and some of the most incredible fish and chip restaurants in the nation. One restaurant in particular is renown for its supreme quality, but you'll need to be prepared to queue (you can’t miss it just head for the harbour and join the crowds) and to be honest most of the chippies (I’ve tried a few) offer exceptionally good value for money with freshly caught fish. Climb the hill on this side of the harbour and take in the view of the Captain Cook statue, the huge whale jawbone and the stunning Abbey on the far side of the harbour. The harbour is a real treat as it still manages to retain a "small town feel." We saw young local lads fishing over the harbour wall with a bit of bait on fishing wire (no rod) whereas further along the more serious fishermen had a range of rods all going at the same time.

On the other side of the harbour there's a myriad of narrow streets, lined with fascinating small shops, to explore. There are no nationwide stores in the centre of Whitby and I'll guarantee that you'll be tempted to buy from one of the many antique, jewellery, or craft shops. The jewellers have a good range of jet products that were made popular in Victorian times and have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. We felt fairly fit so decided to climb the 199 steps to the summit where the Abbey and Saint Mary's Church have pride of place. We found it an excessively hard haul but there are strategically placed benches for us less fit individuals (youngsters were sprinting past us with great pleasure).

The imposing ruins of the ancient abbey are no less impressive close up but Saint Mary’s is a jewel, with a fascinating interior decked out with "box pews" and an amazing three-tiered pulpit. The view of the old town is sensational and its hard to resist an examination of the old cemetery. This town is steeped in history.

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