Heart of England
South of England
A quaint seaside town that is rich in history, Whitby is situated on the east coast of North Yorkshire and has a gothic charm like no other place in Britain. History seeps out of every crevice of Whitby. Twisting alleys and unique shops give it a distinct sense of mystery, whilst the white sandy beaches stretch across a picturesque coastline.
Whitby became the setting for one of the world’s most celebrated novels: Dracula. It isn’t hard to see why Bram Stoker chose the town for his gothic masterpiece. Upon his visit in 1890 he marvelled at the town’s rich tapestry of culture. Of particular interest to him was Whitby Abbey – a Benedictine monastery, founded in the 11th century. Its gothic structure looms over the town, offering stunning views of Whitby’s coastline. The site has a diverse history spanning back to 657 AD and has inspired a multitude of religious writers, poets and artists.
Stoker’s character, Count Dracula, was also inspired by Whitby. After wandering down to the public library, he found a book published in 1820 that recorded the life story of British consul William Wilkinson, who resided in modern-day Romania. Wilkinson told tales of a 15th-century prince named Vlad Tepes, who impaled his enemies with wooden stakes. The tales of such a twisted character inspired Stoker, and the infamous Count Dracula was born.
Captain James Cook, the explorer, and sailor, trained in Whitby town. Cook received world-renowned recognition after he chartered the coast of New Zealand in the 18th century. His lodgings, which are situated on the winding Grape Lane, have been turned into the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, which documents his expeditions. Whitby’s harbour and history as a port are fascinating. Trading was big business in the town from as early as the 14th century, and sailors from all over Europe travelled to Whitby to trade with the wealthy abbey.
Whitby isn’t just inspiring for history lovers – foodies too can find a lot to love in the town. Smokehouses are dotted across the coastline, and Fortune’s Kippers have been providing smoked goods for over 139 years. The appetizing oak wood smoke fills the air on the walk to the smokehouse, which sits adjacent to the Abbey. Don’t fancy kippers? No seaside town is complete without tasty fish and chips – and Whitby prides itself on the traditional British dinner. Trenchers in particular has a reputation in the town as the place to go for the best fish and chips.
In recognition of Whitby’s whaling history, a whale bone arch was erected on Whitby’s West Cliff in the year of 1853. It perfectly frames a view of Whitby Abbey and an array of quant white stone cottages, making it a picturesque place to take in the views or snap pictures. The cultural significance of the arch cannot be understated; many local fishermen perished at sea whilst trying to hunt whales, and onlookers would wait on the shore for crews to return. If successful, whaling was a very lucrative profession – whale oil was an expensive commodity in the 19th century.
The Whitby Goth Weekend is a twice-yearly music festival that takes place in and around Whitby town. It is dedicated to the gothic subculture, and is the world’s most popular Gothic festival, attracting thousands of tourists every year. Starting in 1994, the festival is now more popular than ever, and attracts numerous different subcultures, including rockers, punkers and members of steam punk. Events hosted by the festival include club nights, music concerts and the Goth market.
Whitby is a culturally diverse town and a must-have visit for tourists. The abundance of unique shops, sandy beaches, and museums mean that visitors will never be bored. Whitby truly has something for everyone.
Whitby is also home to two beautiful beaches. Whitby beach has its own Whitby Surf School. This offers group surfing and paddle board lessons. As well as wetsuit and board hire, for those already proficient. Ideal for a family day at the beach.
Robin’s Hood Bay, on the other side of the town, presents further attractive views, as well as a Treasure Trail to be followed. This trail is suited for children aged four and above. It is self-guided using a booklet so is a perfect activity for those social distancing.
Piglet’s Adventure Farm is another great family activity. The farm has pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, cows, goats, ponies and alpacas. These animals are available to be petted, and some can also be brushed, if booked online.
For adventurous families, Dalby’s Go Ape is close by Whitby. Go Ape offers activities such as climbing courses above the treetops, segways, ziplines, and the ‘Net’s Adventure Ultimate Playground’. This location provides a range of ventures, available to children as young as one, and more difficult challenges for teenagers and up.
If you are looking for something spooky Whitby has a collection of vampire-themed outings. A portion of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula takes place in Whitby, and the place today still immortalizes the vampire legend. There is the Whitby Dracula Experience, for older kids, thirteen and up. This is a tour of Whitby’s gothic locations, with re-enactments of scary scenes by actors along the way.
There is also the Whitby Curse of the Vampire Treasure Trail. This trail is perfect for younger children who are vampire fans but too young for
the Dracula experience.
In the mood for something artistic? Mrs. Pots Arts n’ Crafts, on North Marine Road, offers a creative afternoon for people of all ages. It is a pottery painting shop, great for making a masterpiece or allowing children to play with paint. To book visit Mrs Pots Facebook page.
Another indoor activity, in case of rain, is Mini Monsters Indoor Play Area. There are soft play areas for children of all ages, as well as laser tag, and food. Located at the Esk Leisure, just outside of Whitby.
Finally, Whitby has a great selection of restaurants to choose from during your visit. Hadley’s is a family friendly fish and chip restaurant. It offers views of the sea and a selection of simple food, sure to be accepted even by picky children.
Another excellent spot for families is the Falling Foss Tea Garden. This restaurant is a picturesque cottage, situated within the forest a ten-minute drive from Whitby station. It does both meals and a tea and cakes menu. It also has an attached playground for the children.
Whitby also has romantic dining options for a grown-up meal without the kids. Mademoiselles is a French restaurant with an intimate and sophisticated atmosphere. It has a five-star rating on trip advisor, and it very popular, so it is best to book ahead on their website.
We hope you enjoy your visit to Whitby and all it has to offer!