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I thought that it was about time I posted a photo of one of my favourite places.
There are a few locations that hold a special place in my heart, but none more so than the gorgeously picturesque town of Whitby.
This little gem is situated on the wild and beautiful coast of North Yorkshire and has a proud history.
It is a perfect, natural harbour and so was once a very important centre of the fishing industry. Sadly, fishing is now in decline, due to falling quotas and other economic reasons …… but a small fleet still remains and the fresh crabs and lobsters, caught locally, are the most delicious in the country.
But Whitby is mainly a tourist place, now. A delightful base for a holiday or for a day-trip.
I have adored this town since childhood. My earliest memories of Whitby are from the time we lived in Guisborough. Bump-bumping across the Yorkshire moors in our little family car. Five children and two adults, all crammed in, with possibly a school friend or one or two of the neighbour’s children for good measure. Somehow we managed to squeeze on each others knees and miraculously arrived safely ……. spewing out onto the pavement in a great tangle of sun-tanned arms and legs like some mutated octopus.
Sometimes we took the moor-land route, past the Lockwood Beck Reservoir and the huge ‘golf-ball’ installations of the Fylingdales Early Warning station. Narrowly missing wayward sheep that wandered freely across the narrow, heather-edged road.
Alternately, Dad would choose the coast road, with its tantalising glimpses of the North Sea and the breath-taking descent at Lythe Bank ….. everyone of us clutching the seats in fear as the tiny car negotiated the precarious drop. How times have changed…… modern cars think nothing of this route and are up or down the hill with nary a thought.
But, whichever route we took, there was always the ‘contest’ to see who would be the first one to spot the Abbey.
Oh how we craned our necks, desperate to be the one who could call out,
” I see it, there’s Whitby Abbey, I win !!!”
I also recall school trips to Whitby. walking around the harbour with my friends, eating candy-floss and giggling.
Or, slightly older, going on sketching trips with the art class from my Grammar School. Climbing the 199 steps up to the ruined Abbey and church that overlooks the harbour. I must have drawn and painted those grey stone buildings dozens of times.
The 199 steps to the Abbey can be seen in the background.
Whitby has barely changed through the years. Of course there are some modern buildings and the ubiquitous amusement arcades along the harbour. But the older parts of town remain and, when the sea-fret and mist engulf the cliffs and fog falls over the narrow streets and alley-ways, it is easy to understand how Bram Stoker was inspired to make this the place that ‘Dracula’ first sets foot on these shores.
I have visited this town more times than I could possibly count, but I still love it and always will.
I love the winding, cobbled streets; the wild coastline beyond the safe haven of the harbour walls.
I adore the quay-side, with the fishing boats; the lobster-pots and fishing-nets, strung out across the walls, to dry. The white-washed, pan-tiled, fishermen’s cottages, clinging precariously to the sides of the steep cliffs; almost threatening to tumble into the harbour with every storm that lashes the East coast.
The quirky little shops selling the fascinating jet jewellery, postcards and other ‘touristy’ things. The aroma of ozone and toffee apples, and fish and chips. The friendly Yorkshire people in the jolly, timber-floored pubs ……the laughter and the smell of real ale, spilling out onto the streets.
Maybe, if you have never been, I have inspired you to make a visit.
Shall we meet by the swing-bridge, that straddles the harbour and joins the two halves of the town ……… and sample the most delicious fish and chips in the world, at the famous Magpie Cafe …………… ??