The name Whitby comes from the Old Norse for ‘white settlement.’ It is famous for fishing, jet, tourism and fish and chips. Fish and Chips are BIG business here. The winner of the national award for fish and chip shop of the year, the Quayside restaurant, proudly displays its winner’s banner. The Magpie cafe next door is no slouch in that department either.
Queues of hungry visitors snake out of doors and down steps. Lobster and chips at the Moon and Sixpence is more of an upmarket option. Looking out onto the harbour, always packed on a sunny day, is great for people watching.
Worshipping at the Mecca of fish and chips
Whitby seagull alert
The seagulls at Whitby do very well. They benefit from the large amount of detritus from both the fishing boats and the fish and chip shops. These scavenging birds are large, numerous and very tame.
I saw one take a huge beak full of fallen fish supper outside the Quayside restaurant and then make off at a brisk walk. It looked for all the world like a shop lifter trying not to attract attention.
Nothing to do with me…
As a fishing port, Whitby developed important whaling and herring fleets in the middle ages. There is still the huge jaw bone of a whale at the top of the West Cliff next to the statue of Captain Cook.
There is a lot less to fish these days, but some tourists still go out on the fishing boats. Crabs and lobsters are still caught in fair numbers..
Any sign of sea food?
There are a number of boat ride experiences on offer for visitors leaving from the harbour. They include the option to ride on a 40% replica (why 40 %?) of Captain Cook’s ship, the Endeavour.
I get very sea sick. As I watched the small ship’s bouncing exit from the harbour into the spray with its human cargo clinging on, I was glad I wasn’t on it.
The Endeavour sets sail
The oldest and most prominent landmark is the Gothicmajesty of Whitby Abbey. Atop 199 steps. Most people who visit Whitby climb the steps up to the Abbey. It’s tradition to count them you go. Even though at the top it tells you there are 199. It’s as though we all need to verify it personally.
Did you order Oysters?
Whitby is also famous for themed weekends. There is a Goth weekend and a Folk weekend. A Northern Soul weekend and a Forties weekend. Some of these weekends are apparently starting to get confused as a few Forties Goths have recently been spotted.
Ready for the Rock weekend
Whitby – the Dracula experience
The town has literary links with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Some of the story is set here as the author spent time here on holiday. There is a small ‘Dracula experience’ attraction. I couldn’t hear any of the Dracula related commentary because of a small gang of screaming children behind me. They alternated extensive ear splitting screams with exclamations of ‘This isn’t very scary!’
It was so pitch black I couldn’t see the promised voluptuous Vampires or anything else really. When the ‘live actor working today,’ jumped out from the darkness wearing a scary mask, it did cause me to emit an ear splitting eek of my own.
Dracula is not looking well..
Top tourist destination
Tourism started in Whitby during the Georgian period. It developed further after the arrival of the railway in 1839.
Although Whitby suffers economically from being geographically isolated and doesn’t have great infrastructure, it does means that the town hasn’t changed much. It now has rather a trendy retro feel. Things always come back into fashion if you leave them alone long enough.
It has a hippy vibe with homemade bread shops, and spiritual retreats. One of my favourite places is the Wash House pottery. It’s just off the narrow windy street up to the Abbey next to some fisherman’s cottages. It has been there since the eighties. I bought a beautiful Green man wall planter modelled on the face of the potter’s son. I know it sounds creepy, but it isn’t, it’s beautiful.
Face of Whitby
Whitby is an important part of the dramatic and beautiful North Yorkshire coastline. Drive over the moors, past villages with names to chew on like Slapewath, Grinkle, Cross Butts and Ugglebarnby There you will find your way to the fish and chip Mecca of the North.
Whitby is a special seaside place, Captain Cook learned his trade here and he was a man who certainly went a long way!