Whitby is a picturesque town on the north coast of Yorkshire, England
Whitby is a picturesque town on the north coast of Yorkshire, England

Whitby is a picturesque town on the north coast of Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom.

Famous as the home town of Captain James Cook (world explorer) and the place where according to Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula landed in England, Whitby attracts millions of visitors each year for its heady mix of scenery, seaside historical heritage and fish and chips. Whitby is also home to “Whitby Lucky Ducks”  glass ducks believed to bring luck to the owner.

During the early 20th century the fishing fleet kept the harbour busy and few cargo boats used the port. It was revitalised as a result of a strike at Hull docks in 1955 when six ships were diverted and unloaded their cargoes on the fish quay. Endeavour Wharf, near the railway station, was opened in 1964 by the local council. The number of vessels using the port in 1972 was 291, increased from 64 in 1964. Timber, paper and chemicals are imported while exports include steel, furnace-bricks and doors. The port is owned and managed by Scarborough Borough Council since the Harbour Commissioners relinquished responsibility in 1905. A marina was started in 1979 by dredging the upper harbour and laying pontoons. Light industry and car parks occupy the adjacent land. More pontoons were completed in 1991 and 1995. The Whitby Marina Facilities Centre was opened in June 2010.

Access : Coordinates: 54.4858, -0.6206 / By car :  The main routes into Whitby are all very scenic, but can be treacherous (or closed!) in bad weather, as they pass over high moorland and are susceptible to snow. Because of the nature of the relief around Whitby, there are many one in three gradients in and out of the town, and drivers should remain vigilant. From Scarborough and East Yorkshire, you’ll approach on the A171 coast road from the south-east. From Teesside and the North East, you have a choice between the main A171 road, or the slower coastal A174.  From York and most other areas, take the A64 to Malton then the A169 through Pickering and over the North York Moors. This is undoubtedly the prettiest route and is a really good road to drive on – just a couple of sharp bends to beware of, and then a dizzying plummet down a 25% (1 in 4) hill into the village of Sleights. Like all tourist destinations, the roads into Whitby can be very busy during the summer season, and parking – while plentiful (main car parks by the marina and on West Cliff) can be difficult to find. Unless you arrive early, you may find it best to park well out of the town centre and walk; it isn’t far! A regular travel news service is provided by Yorkshire Coast Radio (103.1FM).

By train :  Just one railway line into Whitby remains, compared with four in its heyday. Northern Rail  run four trains daily from Middlesbrough, taking a leisurely hour and a half for the journey along the pretty Esk Valley . North York Moors Railway operate picturesque services to and from Whitby and the North York Moors, serving Grosmont, Goathland, Newtondale, Levisham, and Pickering. If you’re coming from York or anywhere further south, it may be quicker to either use the Coastliner bus (see below) from York – through tickets are available from any station in the country, ask for “Whitby Bus Station”. Or to get the train from York to Scarborough and use the hourly bus from the front of the station to Whitby.

By bus :  Despite its isolated location, Whitby is well connected by interurban buses. Arriva  run services along the coast, with the X5 running every half-hour to Loftus and Middlesbrough, and the 93 running every hour (every half-hour in the summer) to Scarborough, as well as several local bus services. Coastliner  run their renowned luxury spec buses four times a day from Leeds and York on the 840. Through tickets from any railway station are available on the Coastliner service from York, ask for “Whitby Bus Station” when buying your ticket. Additional services run on many routes during the summer. The bus station is located West of the River Esk in the Town Centre, next to the train station. There is one National Express  coach daily from London and York.

Highlights :

  •  Pannett Art Gallery & Whitby Museum.
  • Whitby Abbey, Abbey Lane, YO22 4JT. adults £6.40, children £3.80, concessions £5.80.
    The 199 Steps up to Whitby Abbey.
  •  Captain Cook Museum.  Captain Cook Memorial Museum
  • Whitby Lifeboat Museum.
  • St. Mary’s Church & Churchyard (near the Steps & Abbey).
  • 1/3rd Scale HM Bark Endeavour Replica.
  • The Mary Anne Hepworth (old lifeboat).
  • Thomas Paylor (Whitby). The Whitby Guide is Whitby’s definitive guide to Whitby Accommodation, Whitby Restaurants, Whitby Events. The complete guide to Whitby, North Yorkshire.
  •  Robin Hood Bay (five miles south of Whitby). small fishing village and a bay
  •   The wreck of the Admiral Von Tromp

Activities : Ghost walks– Whitby abbey and the town itself has a long history. There are many haunted sites so be sure to go on one of the guided ghost walks. Warning: the old town is a creepy place after dark and not for the faint hearted. Many strange, unnerving “incidents” have been reported and something not entirely benign clings to the ancient alleyways and yards. Enjoy the ghost tours by all means, but be careful what you meddle with in Whitby. Dracula experience – walk through a tunnel modified like Dracula’s Castle. ‘look out for vampires’

199 steps – if you have the energy climb the 199 steps from town up to St Marys church and the Abbey. The view is good. Especially good after dark, but watch out for the big black dog.

Climb the old lighthouse – the taller of the two 19th century lighthouses flanking the harbour entrance is open to visitors in the busier part of the year for great views along the coast and back into the town.

Donkey Rides on the Beach. Kids enjoy the donkey rides on the beach on the west side of the harbour, available during the day, other than at high tide. edit
North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Heritage steam railway which runs from Pickering to Grosmont with some trains running to Whitby.

Go next : Scarborough / Filey / Helmsley / Malton



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