Whitby – a top seaside day out
The weather was fine, a most beautiful day for a trip to Whitby. The sky was as blue as it ever gets in England. The double figure temperatures were very welcome after a long and challenging snowy winter. Could spring be on its way? A day out at the seaside was just what the doctor ordered.
Parking at the little town of Sandsend, it is about a three mile walk from here into Whitby town centre. Before setting off along the cliff tops we popped into the Witsend cafe for a coffee and a date slice. It’s a cute little place, popular with walkers, but don’t try and get in if you’ve got a dirty dog.
We set off to walk into Whitby and gradually descended to the beach as the tide crept out. This ancient port town is perched around a steep tidal inlet. Whitby remains perennially popular with locals and visitors f alike. We passed the rows and rows of beach huts which add a colourful edge to the coastal horizon.
Whitby – fabulous fish and chips
There is no place like Whitby to go to sample the no 1 British national dish – fish and chips. In fact word is that it serves the best fish and chips in the world! Some of the cafes here are so popular that people are willing to queue for some time to get their meal.
The Magpie cafe is one famous such establishment, which always has a queue of customers. My brother Robin is more a fan of Hadley’s, so we went there instead. I enjoyed my haddock, chips and mushy peas immensely.
Whitby seafood specials
Stroll along the narrow Victorian streets and you will pass the stalls selling oyster and crab, winkles and mussels. Trade is brisk and the stall holders jovial. Whitby crab is also very good indeed, and a brown bread crab sandwich is another local treat.
A word of warning for the seaside day tripper. Watch out for the seagulls which have become pterodactyl-like in proportion, due to a high calorie diet of chips, batter and fish. The gulls can become rather aggressive in pursuit of your hard earned lunch.
There are even special signs discouraging visitors from feeding them displaying the hashtag #yourfoodisnottheirfood. Urban seagull populations are exploding in line with our penchant for take away food and our habit of throwing some of it away in a casual manner. It is a demonstration of survival of the fittest (or fattest) at work.
Whitby – a town with a history
Whitby is in the Borough of Scarborough in North Yorkshire. It is located at the mouth of the River Esk, and has a long maritime, mineral and tourist heritage. Its East Cliff is home to the ruins of Whitby Abbey, where Cædmon, the earliest recognised English poet, lived. The fishing port developed during the Middle Ages, supporting important herring and whaling fleets, and was where Captain Cook learned seamanship.
Fishing has given way to tourism as the main business here now. The red roofed houses of the old town pile up the hillside to the foot of the 199 steps which lead up to the ruins of the Abbey. Winding streets are full of hippy shops selling gifts and clothes and souvenirs. Tempting cafes offer crab sandwiches and home made cake. Jewellery shops sell beautiful black Whitby Jet fashioned into rings and necklaces. Bram Stoker featured Whitby in his novel Dracula, published in 1897 and the town scape has probably changed little since that time.
Whitby – lovely things to buy.
One of my favourite places in Whitby is the Washhouse Pottery in Blackburn’s yard. I usually have to go in and buy one of their unique wall planters which are modelled on a human face. I think it’s the actually the son of the potter who is the model for them all. I’ve been buying them from this tiny pottery for over twenty years from the time when I used to come here with my mum. They are still a ceramic favourite of mine.
Whitby always has attracted top street performers and buskers too – I loved the Moaning Lisa. We even stopped for an action shot at arguments yard! Whitby is peppered with little yards and alleyways but this one actually refers to a Thomas Argment who lived in the vicinity. It is believed Argument is actually an Anglicisation of the Flemish name Argomont. Not so much fun though.
Whitby is a colourful and characterful place. There’s always something new to see, and it retains its quaint historic and eccentric air. It has a real Victorian charm which the modern world has totally failed to eradicate, and I hope it’s not too long before I get to return to its cobbled streets and sample the best fish and chips in the world once more.