The seaside town of Whitby, located in North Yorkshire, is rich in maritime and literary history. With links to both Captain Cook and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, among others, it has something of a haunting feel to it, aided by the looming ruins of Whitby Abbey on the cliffs overlooking the town.
Whitby’s waterfront is still a bustling, thriving hub today, particularly popular in the summer months when the harbour swarms with tourists. Turn up in the early hours of the morning, however, and you’ll be treated to a lovely sunrise, quiet streets, and a pervasive sense of exciting potential as the day begins. (Perhaps this is the thrill of the promise of the open seas?)
There’s all the usual gimmicks you would expect in a place connected to larger-than-life characters, but Whitby doesn’t skimp on its history either. Its abbey, founded in 657 AD, has seen its share of Viking raids and literary notables (like Caedmon, the first English poet), over the centuries. It now keeps watch over Whitby town, under the care of English Heritage.
If you’re feeling up to it, park at Whitby Abbey (for a fee) and take the famous 199 Steps that lead from the abbey down into town.
Whitby is a great base for those who want to explore the rugged coastline of North Yorkshire, which is dotted with a number of picturesque harbours and ports that hearken back to an age when seafaring was the order of the day.
I’d be remiss, of course, not the mention the extremely aggressive gulls that rule the pier by the water! Beware your surroundings, and guard your fish and chips with your life. The birds are notoriously nasty and will stop at nothing to ruin your meal.
Have you been to Whitby before? What did you think? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
My in-laws took us to Whitby many years ago – a lovely place. The cemetery full of weathered gravestones was very atmospheric.