On our tour of York and the North East, we spent Friday on the north east coast. Our first destination was Robin Hood’s Bay.
The breakfast was delicious and there was a lot of it. Buffet style, while immensely attractive, is fatal for me. I inevitably pick the best bits of bacon (‘ooh, that one looks better’) and the nicest sausages (‘ooh, that one looks nice too’) and suddenly I need help carrying the plate back to my table. Today was no exception.
Squeezing into the car, we set off to cross the North Yorkshire Moors towards Whitby and the East. The last time I came across here, there was a massive thunder storm over Whitby and the lightning was flashing constantly, putting me off driving, Today, the weather was beautiful and clear; warm but not uncomfortably hot. There was a wonderful moment when the silhouette of Whitby abbey came into view on the cliff top above the town. We skirted around and headed south towards the little fishing village, which was once more important than Whitby according to Dutch sea maps, which showed Robin Hood’s Bay but not Whitby.
Parking at the top of the hill, we walked down the steep lane towards the sea. There were few people here and it was lovely to see the streets and lanes uncluttered by tourists. We explored some of the narrower paths until it began to feel as if we were intruding into people’s gardens. At the foot of the hill, the tide was in and washing over the slipway. It was lovely to watch the waves, and hear them too, without the interruption of man made noise. After some sun and sea air, we trudged back up the much steeper hill to the car and headed off to the Abbey.
The main entrance to the abbey was closed and so we had to walk around the perimeter of the grounds to get to the alternative entrance. Which was also closed, as there was a private group being showed around. It was very disappointing especially as there were no notices in the car park. Fortunately, we were heading down to Whitby too, otherwise it would have been a waste of money in the car park.
199 steps lead down from St Mary’s church to the East harbour, the oldest part of Whitby. They weren’t as bad as I was expecting and very soon we were in Church street, one of the older and original streets in the town. In the lore of Dracula, this is the route he took after coming ashore from the grounded ‘Demeter’, heading up to the church and the grave of a suicide, where he spent some of the 10 days he was in Whitby. I’m guessing he didn’t stop at the souvenir shops to pick up some Whitby Jet.
We crossed over the Drawbridge to the west side and walked alongside the wharfs, now home to tour boats, one or two fishing vessels and the large fish market. A lovely coffee at the Marine Hotel was followed by a stroll out to the pier and back. We then spent some time in the little art galleries in the side streets. Captain Cook was born here and started his seafaring career at the harbour. I love little details like that. It reminded me that I’d been in Stromness, where the Endeavour stopped to water and provision before heading south (so I was told). An odd route but it turns out that as Britain was at war with France at the time, it was safer than using the English Channel.
All too soon it was time to climb back up the 199 steps (now mysteriously steeper and more numerous) to the church. We were passed on the way by schoolkids whose only purpose was to show us the differences age brings. They were waiting at the top of the steps, bouncing with energy. We wandered through the churchyard, with its Gothic gravestones. They all appeared to be made of the same sandstone, and to a very similar design. Unfortunately, the ravages of the sea air and storms had worn the surfaces back considerably. Most stones showed a characteristic pitting and many had worn thin to the point where they seemed they might snap in the slightest breeze. Some had already done so.
From the church we walked back around the abbey ruins to the car. It was time to head back to the hotel and our three course meal. We stopped on the way back in the little village of Goathland on the North York Moors. Goathland played the role of Aidensfield in the ITV series ‘Heartbeat’ and every souvenir shop (almost every building in the tiny village was a souvenir shop) had all the merchandising you could imagine to remind us. There were even two Ford Anglia cars painted up as police cars from the 1960s, when the series was set. The station was also used as ‘Hogsmead’ station in the Harry Potter films (I’ve only included that to justify the Harry Potter keyword tag I’ll add in a cynical attempt to boost my site traffic).
We made a brief stop at the Hole of Horcum (not part of it, the whole of it). The hole is part of the valley formed by the Levisham Beck and ranks 11th in the Rude Britain top 100 list (which includes North Piddle, Titty Ho and the classic ‘Twatt’, a place I’ve been to on Orkney – these may not be in my tag list because I’m not that desperate for traffic). We got back to our hotel at about 5.30. After a welcome shower and change, we were out in the beer garden enjoying a beer with the guests of a wedding reception.
Food was lovely, more so because it was part of the deal we’d had. Then it was time for bed.
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