Whitby - Inlet of the River Esk
The old town of Whitby (East side) has ancient cobbled streets that wind beneath cliffs, dominated by Gothic remains of Whitby Abbey founded ( 657AD ) over 1300 years ago.   You can see the history of the years gone by, where picturesque red-roofed houses nestle on the slopes above the river Esk.

Whitby is one of Britain's finest coastlines.   It has been a port for more than a thousand years and is still a seafarer's town, keeping it's old world character.   Coastal towns were always a favourite of mine.

The old town of Whitby can be found at the foot of the church stairs.   The houses back up the cliff, with narrow alleyways leading down to the harbour.   Beyond Church Street, is the Captain Cook museum.   In 1746 the house belonged to Captain John Walker, a ship owner whose vessels carried coal from the Tyne to the Thames.   It was in this year that he took on an apprentice, the 17-year-old James Cook.   Captain Cook, was killed during a violent quarrel on the beach at Kealakekue Bay, following the theft of a boat from "The Discovery".

It was this harbor full of history and myth that played a part in Bram Stoker's writing in 1890. He had been working on a novel inspired by Hungarian adventurer Arminius Vambery who had told Stoker of eastern European tales of the blood-hungry living dead.   He was so impressed by the surroundings, menacing aspects of the immense stone abbey and St Mary's Cathedral looming over the small town, that he used Whitby in his novel Dracula as the place where the seductive Count meets and kills Lucy.

View of River Esk into the Port at Whitby

Whitby Abbey
The most prominent feature of Whitby is the Abbey. The gaunt ruins stand above the old town.   It's cared for by English Heritage, although little remains of the monastic site today.   Part of the church still stands as a vivid monument to the Benedictine monks whose community was finally closed down by Henry VIII in 1539.   The first monastery was laid waste by Viking raiders in the 9th century, and then rebuilt shortly after the Norman Conquest.   Further extensive damage to the Abbey was recorded in 1914 when German surface raiders slipped across the North Sea and bombarded the towns of Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool.

We had lunch on the clifftop while enjoying the view of the Abbey.

At the dry stone wall, we turned left met up with a horse feeding lazily on some hay and made our way down to explore the beautiful little town.

Another famous Whitby landmark is the 199 steps that connect the parish church on the cliff top to the town below.   These 'church stairs' were first mentioned over six hundred years ago, and in 1717 were still wooden.   It's a good climb from Church Street below to the church itself, and there are still benches at regular intervals.

We avoided the 199 steps and went on a round about way (through some fields and around the abbey) down to the town below.   The walk down was easy... the climb up made me stop a couple of times on some stragically placed benches to catch my breath.   Down below, the beach had loads of people enjoying the hot summer's day though we only saw one brave soul swimming.

Another beautiful town to explore: Scarborough.

Ruins of Whitby Abbey

Exploring London

Onward to Scarborough

Exploring Yorkshire

Related Links
2003-2006 My Travel Diary