The smell of freshly fried fish batter and chips engulfed the air around me as I walked towards the pier, with the salty air whipping across my face.
As expected in any seaside town, the seagulls swooped down low in front of the crowds, as grown adults and children protectively guarded their fish and chips with each mouthful.
Our weekend away in Whitby, unknown to us, coincided with Pirate Weekend, which explained why we passed around a dozen Jack Sparrow look-a-likes on our way to the beach.
The coastal town reminded me of childhood summer holidays gone-by, filled with fish and chips, ice creams and arcade slot machines. Although, rather disappointingly, there were no dance mats to be found in ANY of the arcades… They’re missing a trick really, as I would’ve been willing to spend at least a tenner jumping and flailing my arms around to trashy dance music.
Whitby is famed for inspiring Bram Stoker’s, Dracula, with the 13th Century gothic abbey ruins perched proudly on a cliff for every visitor to see as they make their descent towards to the town. It ’s easy to see how Stoker got his inspo for the classic novel, with arches and pillars casting an eery shadow over the crashing waves below. Standing at the bottom of the cliff, beneath the intimidatingly steep stone stairs leading up to the gothic ruins, the abbey and church next-door towered above us.
“There was one great tomb more lordly than all the rest; huge it was, and nobly proportioned. On it was but one word, DRACULA.” – Bram Stoker, Dracula
Aside from the historic abbey, the panoramic views were well worth the climb, looking out over Whitby and the endless expanse of blue sea. Even though it was a cool and early September day, the sea was definitely a bit nippy, though we still spotted a few brave souls paddle boarding and one right nutter wading into the water with only swimming trunks to protect him from the bitterness of the cold. It’s safe to say, the closest I got to feeling the real chill of the water was from the salty spray battering the stone walls by the pier.
When the stomach rumbles in Whitby, there’s only one spot to eat a proper fish and chip tea, The Magpie. Now if you’ll excuse the pun, The Magpie is cheap as chips, and truly delicious. Perfect conditions for inducing a day-long food baby. Serving up proper Yorkshire portions, The Magpie isn’t shy of piling on the chips and frying up the biggest (in both size and variety) fish. Fully aware of the plate sizes, I opted for a small dish and even then I was struggling to clear my plate. Kudos to my dad who managed to devour an extra large portion, just proving he didn’t get the nickname “The Binman” for nothing when I was younger.
A short drive away from Whitby is the picturesque cove of Robin Hood’s Bay. Walking through this small fishing village was like stepping into a classic 19th Century novel. Once known for smuggling, narrow streets weave and wind down a steep hill towards the sandy shores and rock pools, passing tiny cafes and cottages with their doors wide open offering a range of trinkets and homemade items. Crab buckets and colourful fishing nets are propped up against tuck shop walls around every corner – the necessary gear for crab fishing in the rock pools below.
“There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.” – Bram Stoker, Dracula
Robin Hood’s Bay itself is stunning, curving around the coast with huge rock piles looking out to the sea. We clamber up the white stone rocks and find a bum-sized wedge to sit in and take in the scenery which we don’t often get to appreciate when living in London.
Thinking back to my last visit here – a caravan holiday when I was 13 – there’s something about being by the sea which makes you appreciate the simpler things in life. Maybe it’s not being near a bustling city, the green surroundings or perhaps the influx of dogs running through the sea with their tongues flopping about, but the countryside always makes me feel refreshed and back home again.
Something everyone needs once in a while.
What to do in Whitby:
The beach (obviously)
Take the short drive to the beautiful Robin Hood’s Bay
The Dracula Experience
Captain Cook boat ride around the harbour
Captain Cook Memorial Museum
What to eat in Whitby:
Fish and chips – our favourite is The Magpie
Fudge – Justin’s Original Fudge and Toffee Shop