Whitby

A couple of hours in the beautiful seaside town of Yorkshire, Whitby.

The famous seaside town of Whitby can be spotted from the tops of its equally famous surroundings, The North York Moors. The rugged, beautiful landscape slopes eastwards toward Yorkshires Heritage Coastline allowing views of Whitby Abbey long before you arrive in the historic port town. It only serves to increase anticipation of exploring one of England’s most charming coastal towns.

There is plenty to do in Whitby whether you are a quick on your feet explorer or more of a gentle stroller, whatever your interests there is something for everyone. One of our Yorkshire Day Tour guides Lee Miles suggests the following things to do:

Once in Whitby you have the option of walking up the 199 steps (I have counted them both up and down) to St Marys Church and Whitby Abbey or hitch a ride to the top with your Yorkshire Day Tour guide. Walking up is recommended for the more energetic and will take about 20 minutes from the drop off point on the other side of the harbour. Taking the option to be dropped at the Abbey itself not only saves you energy but time as well, leaving you more time to explore the old town. 

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Either way it is worth making it to the top. The views down the winding 199 steps over the busy harbour and red roofed buildings are spectacular, not to mention the views of the dramatic cliffs disappearing to the North. There are great spots to view and photograph the Abbey without even entering the site.

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The current Abbey ruins date back to the 11th century but its history extends back to the Bronze Age which is explained at the visitor centre. Of Course it is the links to the Dracula story that has catapulted this historic site to fame. The Author Bram Stoker was sat in his hotel on the opposite side of harbour when he was inspired to wreck the Vampires ship along the harbour walls. The site is run by English Heritage and entrance is approximately £8 (if you are planning on visiting many historic sites English heritage offer a Membership from £45 with free access to over 400 sites). 

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St Mary’s church perched near the cliff edges is worth a quick look, the exterior of the church dates back to the 12th century but the interior is mostly 18th century with an interesting array of family boxes and galleries built by boat builders of the town. You might even wish to explore the graveyard and find the unmarked graves of some of Whitby’s nameless Pirates.

Caedmon’s cross (Caedmon was England’s first poet and educated by St Hilda at the Abbey) marks the way down the 199 steps into the old town of Whitby. There are hand rails and the steps are well spaced and wide enough to safely make your way down. The old town is a charming maze of snickets and alleyways stuffed full of independent shops selling a myriad of products from Gothic Fashion to Whitby Jet and souvenirs and local art. There is even the famous smoke house selling Kippers.

You will by now start to smell the fish and chips being fried in Whitby’s many restaurants. This will most likely set your mouth watering and your stomach into frenzied pangs of hunger. Luckily there are many places to choose from. It is difficult to find a bad fish and chip shop in Whitby but the most famous is The Magpie CafĂ©.  The famous Magpie is found across the red swing bridge that opens and closes to let the remaining fishing boats in and out of the harbour and on the way to the harbour walls.

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Choose to eat in or take your lunch away to enjoy whilst taking a stroll on the beach or along the harbour walls (taking care to avoid the swooping seagulls on looking for an unrespecting target and a free lunch).

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By getting a take away lunch you will likely still have time to fit in other attractions which include a trip on Captain Cooks Ship the Endeavour ( or a miniature replica at least ) out into the North sea. Relive your childhood in the arcades (bring plenty of loose change) or head into the spooky Dracula experience, if you dare.

As you head back to re-join the bus keep an eye out for Dads trying to teach kids how to catch crabs along the harbour using bacon to lure the crustacean onto the line.  You may even have a chance to spot a steam train at Whitby Station. Access to the platforms is allowed and allows for a great shot.

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