A week in Whitby

We’re just back from an enjoyable family holiday in the historic seaside town of Whitby. This was our second visit having had a holiday there in July 2017.

The town developed following the establishment of an Anglo Saxon monastery high up on the East Cliff in 656 by Oswy, the Christian king of Northumbria. It’s in a narrow valley at the mouth of the River Esk, flanked by tall cliffs. The original settlement was at the bottom of the cliffs on the east side of the river, eventually spreading over to the west bank. It’s location means that it’s a maze of steep, narrow streets and ginnels – not the easiest of places to drive around!

Until relatively recently it was very much an industrial town with alum quarries on nearby cliffs and shipbuilding was a major industry – it’s hard to believe that in the 18th century it was the third largest shipbuilding port in England. Not surprisingly it was a fishing port and in the mid 18th century it also became a centre for whaling. Whitby developed as a spa town in Georgian times and tourism really took off in the mid 19th Century with the arrival of the railway, leading to the development on top of the West Cliff.

Bram Stoker stayed in Whitby and it inspired him to write his novel, Dracula, which started with the Dementer, the ship carrying Dracula running aground, its crew missing, its dead skipper lashed to the wheel was wrecked on Tate Hill Sands, below the East Cliff (his inspiration for this was the beaching of a Russian ship, the Dmitry, on the sands in 1885).  One of the novel’s characters, and Dracula’s victim, Lucy Westenra, was attacked by the Count in St Mary’s Churchyard, the Parish Church that stands in the shadow of the Abbey.

We had a relatively easy week, spending our time wandering around the streets, cliffs and beaches with only one trip out to Scarborough. We didn’t spot any vampires, fortunately!

Here’s a few snaps that I took around the town during our stay, starting with a few views of the East Cliff from the harbour and West Cliff

This is the beach where the Dmitry ran aground – the inspiration for the start of Bram Stoker’s novel.
Some of the shops in the “main street” of the East Cliff
Looking up the 199 Steps that lead up to the Parish Church and the ruins of the Abbey.
In bram stoker’s novel, Dracula, in the guise of a black hound, ran up these steps up to the top of the East Cliff after the shipwreck.
Looking down to the harbour from part way up the 199 steps
Looking over the graveyard to the Abbey
The Abbey ruins
This modern bridge linking the east pier and the east pier extension of the harbour walls. An addition since our last visit.
Looking down over the harbour to the West Cliff from the top of the East Cliff
Another view over to the West Cliff settlement
The monument to James Cook, who, as an apprentice seafarer, was based in the town

There’s a fine beach to the west of the town stretching a couple of miles to the small hamlet of Sandsend

A replica of Cook’s Endeavour
Another change since out holiday in 2017 – there were a number of these wire statues of former residents of the town illustrating it’s heritage.
A fellow photographer!

20 thoughts on “A week in Whitby

  1. My first visit was on a supporters club coach, for a Boxing Day away game against Whitby Town. We liked the look of the place so, next season, came by car, ariving early enough to do some exploring. We knew about the plaque where Bram Stoker stayed, the Cook statue and the jawbone of the whale but didn’t realise they were all so close together: we’d done them within two minutes of parking the car! Still, it was also Goth Weekend, by a fortuitous coincidence, and we had a great time admiring the hundreds of them.

    • Yes, it’s a small compact town, but plenty of interest. I enjoy pottering around and walking up on the cliffs and along the beach.
      Playing Whitby Town? Which team were you supporting? I’d hazard a guess it wasn’t man Utd. !!

      • Droylsden, now sadly practically defunct. If I remember correctly we drew the Boxing Day visit 1-1 and won the next season.

  2. Great photos, you got some very moody skies in that first one. I like Whitby but haven’t been for a few years; I like Sandsend too, such a quaint little place 🙂

    • Thanks Eunice. We had decent weather – mainly sunny with 3 half days when it rained – including when I took some photos on top of the West Cliff which was when I shot that photo of the whalebone arch

  3. I think it was 2017 when I was last in Whitby too. Those wire sculptures are definitely new. Whitby is such an atmospheric place. Love it and your photos capture the place very well.

    • When we were last there I was in the Abbey the same day as another blogger I used to follow (sadly passed away since). Maybe you were there too! And remember were both in and near Grasmere the same day earlier this year – the WordPress world is a small world 😂

  4. An area of the country I’ve never visited which I need to do something about – that list just gets longer and longer! I like the look of Whitby, a place packed with interesting stuff.

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