Last day in Whitby

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The weather changed on the last day of our holiday. The rain came in and the temperature dropped. So it was a day for stopping in, reading, relaxing, drinking tea and eating cake (!) and otherwise occupying ourselves. But I do get itchy feet so during the afternoon, when the rain had eased for a while, I went out for a short walk on the West Cliff and took a few shots to remind me of an enjoyable week in the historic seaside town.

The Crescent – only half of it was ever built!
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The statue of Captain Cook looking out to sea
Looking through the Whalebone Arch – it’s hard to get a chance of this shot on a fine day as everyone wants their photo taken under the arch – not as much of a problem on a colder, wet day!
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A neo Gothic house – a little creepy given which novel is set here
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The Modernist style pavillion by the outdoor paddling pool

I decided to walk down to the bottom of the cliff and take a short stroll on the beach

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A memorial bench on the path
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A walk along the cliffs

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The forecast for Tuesday predicted that after a reasonable start it would be a wet and windy afternoon. I was up early (as usual!) and decided to get out for a bracing walk along the cliffs to the south of Whitby before the weather changed. I managed to persuade my son to acompany me, be he soon lost his enthusiasm and turned back half way through the walk.

We crossed over to the East Cliff and climbed up the 199 Steps circumnavigating the graveyard with views over the sea and towards the Abbey ruins.

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We joined the coastal path, which is part of the Cleveland Way route, and which would take us along the cliffs

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Passing the Abbey
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There were other people walking along the path, probably making their way to Robin Hood’s Bay. That wasn’t my plan. I’d walked from Robin Hood’s Bay back to Whitby last time we stayed here. I could have carried on walking the route in reverse this time but I’d decided to turn around at the lighthouse, which is about a third of the way to Robin Hood’s Bay and retrace my steps and get back to Whitby before the rain came in. I actually think the best views are gained walking towards Whitby.

Here’s some photos I shot from the top of the cliffs – some taken going out and some coming back.

Looking back towards the Abbey and the harbour
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The cliffs are very friable and are being rapidly eroded by the North Sea. I could see several diversions of the path inland since my last walk along here.
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Approaching the lighthouse. It’s been converted into a couple of holiday cottages – a dramatic place to stay.
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Just south of the lighthouse is a foghorn
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I don’t know whether it’s still operational but I wouldn’t want to be staying in one of the lighthouse cottages if it was.

I turned around just after the lighthouse and headed back along the path towards Whitby. On the way I decided to divert down the cliffs to Saltwick bay. The tide was receding revealling a good stretch of fine sand.

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The last time we holidayed in Whitby we’d been fossiling here and without making any real effort I picked up a couple of pieces of ammonite and could see fragments of fossils in some of the larger rocks.

Returning to the cliff top path, with the tide going out remains of a wrecked boat were revealed

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It didn’t take me long to get back to Whitby. I called into the bookshop (I just couldn’t help myself) and made a purchase and stopped off at a couple of shops to purchase some supplies. The cloud had been coming in during my walk and it started to rain quite heavily, but fortunately I wasn’t far from the cottage.

I spent the afternoon taking it easy and catching up on some reading, drinking tea and eating cake! But in the evening we’d booked a table in the Magpie cafe on the harbour which is renowned for it’s fish and chips and other seafood. Last time we were here it was closed as there had been a fire, but it had been renovated since then. It’s very popular and although we’d booked a few days in advance could only get a table fairly late in the evening.

We had a very enjoyable meal.

I started with a plate of oysters
My main course – hake wrapped in parma ham served with muscles
I’m afraid I couldn’t resist the banana bread and butter pudding with custard – several shots of insulin required!

After eating the rain had eased off so we walked along the harbour, climbed up to the Whale bone arch and made our way back to our cottage

Whitby east side

Monday morning during our holiday in Whitby was rather gloomy. But after breakfast, while everyone else was taking it easy in the cottage, I decided to go out for a wander over to the east side of the harbour.

After crossing the bridge I turned down Church Street and where I found myself irresistibly drawn into the rather good independent bookshop, The Whitby Bookshop. After a good browse I carried on down Church Street before turning down Henrietta Street which leads to the harbour piers. I passed the smokehouse, but decided against purchasing any kippers. I’m very fond of the smoked herring but didn’t want to stink out the cottage!

I reached the harbour and walked onto the walls

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Taking care to avoid being blown off the wall by the strong wind, I snapped a few photos of the town under the moody sky.

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I set off back towards the cottage,

Picking up a few supplies on the way.

After dinner, it had brightened up so leaving our daughter behind to catch up on some work for her course, the rest of us decided to walk over to the east side of the town to have a mooch in the shops and take a few photos under a sunnier sky

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Whitby Abbey

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After the walk with my son along to Sandsend and back, during the afternoon all four of us headed through Whitby, over to the East Cliff and then up the 199 steps to visit the ruins of the Abbey. Perched on top of the cliffs above the town and next to the old Parish Church, even on a fine day it has rather a “spooky” atmosphere, especially when viewed across the graveyard as in the picture above! No wonder Bram Stoker used this as a location for the early part of Dracula.

We’d all been into the abbey during our previous visit to Whitby, but it was certainly worth another visit – although you can much of the structure from outside the walls without paying the entry fee, we’re all either members of English Heritage or Cadw (the Welsh equivalent) so we got free entry and were able to get a closer view.

The current Abbey wasn’t the first one on the site. The original Anglo Saxon builing was founded St Hild when Whitby was part of the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, way back in the 7th Century when the the town was known as Streaneshalch and is the liklely location of an important gathering of the clergy, known as the Synod of Whitby, which established the dominance of the Roman Church over the Celtic tradition in the kingdom of Northumbria. The Anglo Saxon building was destroyed following the Viking raids in the 9th Century. The site was then deserted for a couple of hundred years until after the Norman invasion when a new Romanesque Benedictine Abbey was founded in 1078. This wasreplaced by the current Gothic structure constructed over a protracted period between the 13th and 15th Centuries. The Abbey was closed by Henry VIII in 1540 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and it gradually fell into ruin – no doubt used as a “quarry” by the locals.

Here’s a few shots I took during our visit.

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A walk to Sandsend

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There’s a long stretch of sandy beach to the north of Whitby. At the other end, nestling underneath the cliffs, is the small village appropriatly named Sandsend. It was originally a fishing village, then a home for workers in the alum extraction industry. Today it’s a tourist resort and, apparently, the most expensive place to buy a property on this stretch of the coast!

On the Sunday morning of our holiday in Whitby, as the tide was going out, I set out with my son to walk the 3 miles to the village. It was a fine morning and although there was a bank of cloud hovering over Whitby, we were in the sunshine as we headed north.

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Looking down to the beach where the tide was receding, from the cliffs near Whitby Pavilion
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Although it was early, there were quite a few people taking some exercise on the beach and / or walking their dogs!
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Passing the colourful beach huts
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There were a few surfers out
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A rocky stretch
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Approaching Sandsend. We didn’t stop to look around the village as we’d planned to visit the Abbey that afternoon and time was getting on.

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Halfway back to Whitby, we took a path that climbed halfway up the cliff to get a different perspective
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We were walking towards the cloud now, but it was clearing and we were in the sunshine most of the way back to Whitby

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Looking down on the beach huts and towards the harbour
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We took the path up to the top of the cliffs a short distance before the Pavillion and passed one of the heritage statues celebrating thealleged invention of the “Crow’s Nest” by local man, William Scoresby

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And a second one, of Skipper Dora Walker (1890-1980), the first female fishing boat skipper on the North East coast.

A little further on we turned off the cliff top path back down towards Skinner Street and our holiday cottage.

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

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This is the beach where the Dmitry ran aground – the inspiration for the start of Bram Stoker’s novel.
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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.
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Looking down to the harbour from part way up the 199 steps
Looking over the graveyard to the Abbey
The Abbey ruins
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This modern bridge linking the east pier and the east pier extension of the harbour walls. An addition since our last visit.
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Looking down over the harbour to the West Cliff from the top of the East Cliff
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Another view over to the West Cliff settlement
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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

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A replica of Cook’s Endeavour
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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.
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A fellow photographer!

A walk along the cliffs from Robin Hood’s Bay to Whitby

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We’d been wanting to walk along the cliffs from Robin Hood’s Bay back to Whitby during our recent holiday. Unfortunately the weather hadn’t been particularly promising. But on the Friday the forecast was for sunshine until the evening, so we laced up our boots and took the bus the few miles to Robin Hood’s Bay and set out along the coastal path. It was easy walking at first but we soon had to negociate a series of “ups and downs” along the cliffs.

Looking back shortly after setting out.

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A short distance along the route we came across this “rocket post”. Devices similar to this were used by the coastguard to practice rescuing shipwrecked sailors. Rockets were used to fire ropes across to stranded ships.

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It was a beautiful day, if a little windy. There were great views of the cliffs ahead and the sea was a beautiful shade of blue.

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“Scars” could be seen under the water. It was high tide but these rocky selves that make this stretch of coastline potentially treacherous for shipping would soon be revealed as the tide receded.

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Looking out to sea.

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Moving along the coast

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This must be the shortest lighthouse I’ve seen.

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A cliff face of Kittiwakes

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A short distance after the lighthouse we passed this disused foghorn station. I wouldn’t have liked to be walking past when this was blasting out.

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Carrying on the cliffs

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Getting closer to Whitby. We passed the bay where we’d been foddiling earlier that week.

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The Abbey came into view

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Looking down to the ship wreck we’d walked past during the fossiling trip

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Whitby harbour came into view.

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Getting closer to the Abbey

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We finished the walk with tea and cake in the YHA café next to the Abbey.

An enjoyable walk of about 8 miles. 

Evening walks around Whitby Harbour

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One of the things we enjoyed during our stay in Whitby was taking an evening walk along the harbour. Two evenings were particularly pleasant for a stroll down to the pier.

On the way down to the town centre we passed the pleasure boats moored in the harbour

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Looking out from the west pier

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Looking along the west pier

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A coble crew, no doubt practicing for the Whitby Regatta

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Looking over to the East Cliff

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As the sun began to sink it lit up the east cliff which looked particualrly dramatic with the grey cloud behind.

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The lifeboat returning to port – the crew had been out on a training run

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We climbed up the west cliff. Looking down to the piers

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The whalebone arch

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The sun was starting to set and Captain Cook’s statue was silhouetted against the sky

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Looking back as we walked past the harbour returning to our holiday home

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The next evening we went out again. Starting with a stroll along the east pier

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Jurassic cliffs to the east

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Looking across to the west pier

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and the West Cliff

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The sea in the bay was a beautiful shade of milky blue

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Along the west pier

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A rain shower came in and created a rainbow over the east cliff

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Whitby Museum

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The weather on the Wednesday of our holiday was rather mixed to say the least. It rained during the morning but the afternoon promised sunny spells. So we decided to go into Whitby, look round some of the shops and old streets and visit the Whitby Museum in Pannett Park. The weather certainly was mixed. At one point we were standing in bright sunshine getting rained on!!

The museum is in a lovely setting – Pannett Park on the west side of the river in the area developed during the Victorian period. It’s a fascinating Victorian museum – old fashioned, but in a good way!

It has a rather eclectic collection of local fossils, natural history exhibits, model ships, carved jet, toys, costumes, items relating to social history and local notables, including Captain Cook.

These are just some of their collection of fossils found in and around Whitby, many of them from the local alum quarries, including this Ichthyosaurus

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a marine crocodile

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and many others.

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There’s a large collection of jet jewellery and other objects. I particularly liked this chessboard

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I also liked this clockwork model of a jet workshop. Put a coin in the slot and the workers started to carry out the various tasks involved in jet manufacture.

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The museum website tells us

the jet workshop model (over 120 years old)….. was made by George Wood, a jet worker, in 1889 and this model stood for many years in the doorway of Elisha Walker’s jet shop at 97 Church Street in Whitby. The heads of the 6 jet workers were carved from the bowls of clay pipes and were caricatures of George Wood’s fellow jet workers. It is driven by clockwork and the men treadle their machines such as polishers, turners, finishers, grinders, working the jet, whilst the foreman’s head turns periodically to see that everyone is working hard!

There was a statue of Captain Cook in the room devoted to maritime history

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Whitby was a whaling centre and their were exhibits related to this rather gruesome industry including these rather viscous looking harpoons and flenshing tools

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These are narwhal tusks

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and a complete narwhal skeleton

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I found the display about shipbuilding in Whitby interesting on two counts. First of all I’m always interested in industrial history. Secondly we were staying next to a former shipyard owners house and above where his shipyard once stood.

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We learned that an old building we passed walking to and from the town centre was a former sail making and repair loft that had been located next to the Whitehall shipyard.

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There was plenty more to see and we ended up spending a couple of hours looking around – longer than I expected – and could probably had stayed longer.

After, dodging rain showers, we had a look around the park

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Walking back to the town centre we passed Bagdale Hall, the old building that is now a hotel and restaurant

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where I spotted this rather attractive Art Deco statue in the courtyard

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Fossiling in Whitby

One of the highlights during our holidays in Lyme Regis was participating in the Fossil hunt organised by the local museum. Like Lyme, Whitby is flanked by cliffs of shale, clay and mudstones which are full of fossils from the Jurassic period. As the cliffs crumble and large sections of them fall down onto the beach as landslips, fossils of creatures that died when Britain was part of a massive land mass and located nearer to the equator many millions of years ago start to be revealed and can be picked up on the beach – providing you know where to look and what to look for. So during our recent holiday we decided to sign up for a fossil walk run by Byron Blessed, a local palaeontologist who is also the owner of the Natural Wonders fossil shop in Grape Lane.

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Although most of the participants were families with children, adults can still enjoy the trip and we were looking finding some specimens!

Byron doesn’t run his fossil hunts every day, but times them to give the maximum time on the beach between the tides. So you go out just after high tide so the water is receding, taking care to make sure the fossil hunters are safely off the beach before it comes back in. Fossil hunting can be dangerous and one of the main risks is being cut off on the beach by the tide.

We met outside Byron’s shop fairly early on Tuesday morning and set off up the 199 steps, past the Parish Church and the Abbey and along the cliffs until we reached the steps that took us down into Saltwick Bay, a small, sandy cove a mile east of Whitby.

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We stopped at the edge of the beach while Byron gave us a safety briefing and then talked to us about fossiling and what to look for, including the ubiquitous ammonites, belemnites, “devil’s toenails” (a type of mollusc), other bivalves, fossilised bone etc.

Having inspected the beach, Byron told us that he wasn’t optimistic as the sea hadn’t washed in many pebbles, where we would be likely to find what we were looking for. So he decided to take us further round the coast, passing a ship wreck on the way.

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We spent more than half an hour there, scrabbling around in the rocks and, as he promised, we started to pick up examples of ammonites and belemnites and other types of fossil. Our finds were mainly fragments, but we were surprised at how many we actually managed to pick up.

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Afterwards we walked back along the beach, and stopped in a couple of places where Byron showed us fossilised dinosaur footprints! We wouldn’t have noticed then as we passed but they were quite clear when he pointed them out, explaining how they would have been formed and what type of creatures made them.

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Unfortunately, although they were quite clear “in the flesh” they haven’t shown up on the photographs I took – there’s not enough contrast to see them on a flat image.

We carried on along the beach past another ship wreck and then stopped while Byron told us about Whitby Jet – a type f fossilised wood which is used to make jewellery and was very fashionable in Victorian times when the Queen herself favoured the jet black jewellery after the death of her husband. There are quite a few shops selling jewellery made from it today in Whitby. We spent a little time searching among the rotting sea weed but weren’t successful – although I think that other members of our party may have found something.

Then we walked along the beach back to Whitby and up the slipway by the east pier.

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And this was the result of our labours

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Not too bad a haul!