Travel Blogs

The Great British Seaside (Part 1): Whitby

Written by Lynsey Oxton

Forget Scarborough and Filey – Whitby is the seaside town to visit when you’re in Yorkshire. At least, in my opinion.

Whitby is a quaint coastal fishing village with charm by the bucket (and spade) load! Famed for its association with Dracula and the best fish and chips the Yorkshire folk have to offer, it surely can’t fail to tempt you?

We found ourselves renting a lovely little cottage for a week in April. Given that my partners sister and her husband live in the Shetland Isles (and us in Manchester), Whitby was almost a ‘halfway house’ for a good old catch up. We rented Coral Cottage right in the centre of the town, with all the amenities needed and a spacious rooftop terrace. If you’re a small family of four (or two couples like us) this is the perfect sized accommodation. As an added bonus, the rental also included one car parking space which saved on expensive parking costs.

With it’s golden sand and rock pools, West Cliff Beach stretches for miles and is great for a leisurely stroll, surrounded by the sheer cliff face above. Depending upon what time of year you go, you may be lucky enough to have much of the beach to yourselves, like we did. Come the Summer months however, holiday makers and day-trippers flock to brave a cheeky paddle and build a sandcastle. From donkey rides, to the brightly coloured rentable beach huts, this is the epitome of the Great British Seaside.

I can’t really mention the seaside and bypass the subject of eating. There are plenty of lovely restaurants to be found in Whitby, many specialising in fresh seafood from that mornings catch. The Marine comes well recommended – it’s a lobster lovers’ dream and the cocktails (not of the prawn variety) are pretty spectacular too! The lunch time special is really good value and should definitely make your ‘to do list’.

A good way to walk off your lunch is to have a leg stretch along the pier, all the way to the lighthouse at the end. When we visited, it was particularly foggy and there wasn’t an awful lot to see other than the crashing waves below. When the mist lifts, there are good views back to the beach and around the Yorkshire coastline.

If you’re feeling energetic, it’s well worth climbing the 199 steps (or ‘church steps’) up to the Church of St. Mary, accessible from Church Street. Make the trek and you’re guaranteed fantastic panoramic views of Whitby from up high. Just behind the church, is one of Yorkshire’s most visited attractions – the gothic and domineering Whitby Abbey ruins. This was the inspiration for Bram Stokers ‘Dracula’ back in 1890, when during a stay in the town, he was overawed by the dramatic, atmospheric cliff tops and the bats circling the Abbey. And there began the story of the worlds most famous vampire. As such, Whitby has become something of a goths playground and even plays host to a ‘Goth Weekend’ annually. As an English Heritage site, you can visit for a fee and enjoy something ‘bloody lovely’ to eat in the picnic garden, with picture-postcard harbour views below.

Another tourist attraction (and selfie hotspot) can be found up on the West Cliff; a huge 20 foot whalebone arch that commemorates the Whitby whaling industry in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, this is not the original arch – in fact it is the third – with the most recent having been brought across from Alaska. The reason behind the first two going? – they fell victim to extreme weathering from storms. Judging by this latest addition, I don’t think it will be too long before a fourth is needed! Also in the area is a Captain James Cook monument in remembrance of the famous English explorer and navigator of the seas.

The town of Whitby seems almost split in two, linked by the beach and a small swing bridge. On one side you have what can only be described as ‘the touristy bit’ – with the famous Magpie Cafe that has visitors queuing out of the doors and the amusement arcades for the little (or big) kids. If you can’t be bothered waiting in line to sample the famous fish and chips, you can always grab a ‘take away’ from the shop next door. Expensive, maybe – but worth it! A tip: the seagulls know it too and they don’t ask nicely! Find yourself some shelter in one of the bandstands to enjoy your chips in peace and people (or boat) watch.

Across the other side of town, you’ll find an altogether different vibe; oldie-worldie, charming and bearing a slight resemblance to York, the cobbled streets and little alleyways (with interesting names) are a world away from the arcades. You’ll find many an independent shop and cafe here, from jewellers selling Whitby jet, to cute cake shops, art galleries, pie and mash cafes and the Lucky Whitby Duck shop. It’s my favourite part of Whitby and to miss it, you’d miss out.

But of course, it goes without saying that any trip to Whitby would not be complete without sampling one of the local delicacies – something you’ll struggle to find anywhere outside of Yorkshire – the ‘Lemon Top’. Mr Whippy topped with a generous swirl of lemon sherbet sorbet – it’s enough to turn the head of any ice cream connoisseur!

So, if you’re staycation-ing this Summer (or if you’re visiting the UK and on the look out for a seaside experience), pop Whitby on your agenda.

Any comments or questions on this blog are welcomed – please don’t be shy!

Are you looking to go to another British seaside? Why not try Blackpool? Read my blog

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