The last of the day’s light silhouettes the wispy clouds framing the lights of Whitby Town in the distance. Before me, flames attack the encroaching cold night air keeping it at bay a little longer, twirling, jumping, dancing in a mesmerising sequence. There is nowhere I would rather be right now. Tucking into a supper of my favourite cheeses resting atop a biscuit cushion my parents and I reflect upon the past day’s adventures. It feels like a lifetime since I last found myself in this seaside town but my fondness for this place has not diminished.
Whitby is a town shaped by its history and lying next to the beautiful burgundy heather of the North York Moors National Park on one side and the North Sea on the other it can cater for whole host of outdoor adventures. For us this means camping at the family run Beacon Farm, more well known for its delectable ice cream which can be found around the local area or at it’s own parlour on the farm.
Whitby itself is split into two by the river Esk built up on the steep slopes either side of the estuary. Much of the oldest part of the town on the side that sits below the Abbey is made up of narrow walkways, cobbled streets and low-rise doorways reminding you of how small we as humans once were. A mixture of shops selling local, handmade trinkets, clothes and ice cream as well as pubs dating back hundreds of years line these streets in contrast to the more modern retailers that nestle themselves in the traditional Whitby storefronts of the Whale bone side of the river. It’s easy to get a feel for what this place was once like and how it came to be here, a feat often now lost in many towns and cities across the UK.
A British staycation favourite, the seafront is busy with people of all ages (despite the British summertime weather) exploring this traditional seaside town. There’s a bandstand that acts as a handy shelter/someplace to sit and eat your chips near the entrance to the pier and plays hosts to bands and other events throughout the year. The familiar coastline sound of seagulls can be heard both in the air and surrounding the bandstand where they hope to catch an easy dinner. Down on the sandy beach there are children having donkey rides and old-style deck chairs for hire. A view reminiscent of a victorian postcard.
Atop the cliffs almost guarding each side of the estuary is the Abbey and the whale bones – a testament to the whaling industry that once thrived here. The views from these cliff tops are only matched by those you find having managed to not slip between the large gaps in the timbers of the never-ending pier. Even on an overcast day like we had I could not help but stop and stare at the magnificence of this part of the East coastline, my mind drifting off to places of happiness and contentment. Consciously having to drag myself away for fear of becoming rooted to this spot forever more. Surprisingly the unmistakable smell of salt upon the breeze was less pronounced than usual, only ever catching glimpses.
Having re-explored my favourites haunts of the Town it was only right that I partook in that very British of traditions of eating chips on the seafront and in Whitby you are not short of chippys to choose from. From your food truck’s, right through to gourmet restaurants whatever level of fish and chips (or just chips) dining you’re after Whitby has it. As it was early afternoon we opted for a cone of chips from the Quayside takeaway (there is also a restaurant). It was awarded fish and chip shop of the year in 2014 but has been hitting the spot for me since way back in my early teens when I came as a scout.
Keen to sample some fish and as a celebratory meal for passing my PhD viva earlier in the week on the final night of our stay we headed to Abbey Wharf- Scales and Ales for tea. This place pretty much only does fish but they do it amazingly well. Between us we had the fish pie, Lemon Sole, and Halibut and they were all exquisite and did not skimp on the portion sizes either. While the food is great I also love the feel of the place, with mainly wooden decor giving it a ship/dock feel inside it had floor to roof windows down one side with a view of the harbour front. It’s also busy, like all the time so if you want to check this place out make sure to book – alternatively you could always use their takeaway service.
Looking across the field of wheat from my tent the morning that we are due to return home I felt a sense of unfinished business. Yes, I’ve been here several times over the years but as I looked at it on the horizon, basking in the early morning sun I knew it wouldn’t be so long until I next returned to this place.
Until next time