Newest Review: ... beyond the beach huts on the West Side the restrictions are lifted and you can walk miles along the beach to Sandsend when the tide... more
Whitby in general
Member Name: Doglovers
Whitby in general
Date: 21/07/12, updated on 04/02/13 (158 review reads)
Advantages: Great beaches and stunning scenery.
The town is a port built up around the fishing industry and is famous for Captain James Cook who was born nearby and is where he started his seafaring career and is also the inspiration for Bram Stokers Dracula.
Like many fishing ports the harbour area is lined with small cottages which date back to mediaeval times and which give Whitby its character.
The town is divided into two parts the older East side which has the ruins of St Hilda's Abbey and St Mary's church and the West side which has its share of old cottages and terraces, but also has many properties built in later periods. Particularly of note is the Cresent which is full of Georgian grandeur , but sadly was never completed.
It is a lovely place to visit and the approach from the South takes you up and down dale across the North Yorkshire Moors. Make sure your brakes are working as there are some very steep hills and watch out for the sheep who often wander off the heather covered moors onto the roads.
You know when you are close to Whitby as the skyline is dominated by the RAF early warning satellite/radar structures at Fylingdales which once were in the shape of golf balls but have since been replaced by much more mundane structures.
You will also pass Goathland which is of interest if you liked Heartbeat as it was filmed in this area.
There are several routes into Whitby but we always take the route signposted Sandsend which takes you to the West Cliff , which is where you can find free car parking on the roadside and streets around the Crescent.
Worthy of note is that disabled parking is not free in Whitby in pay and display car parks.
There is also a lift to the beach from the West Cliff, which is essential if you are disabled particularly on the way back up as the terrain is very stee
Whitby has some beautiful beaches some of which are dog friendly but there are restrictions (May to October I think). However beyond the beach huts on the West Side the restrictions are lifted and you can walk miles along the beach to Sandsend when the tide is out. It is a lovely walk and at the end there is a really nice café which serves great food. I can recommend the full English and the apple pie,
On a nice day of course the miles of beach mean you can simply sit on the beach, or if you are brave swim in the sea. There are beach huts and deckchairs to hire and donkey rides if the fancy takes you.
On the East side there is Tate Hill Beach which is small and sandy and dogs are allowed all year.
As you would expect there are boat trips a plenty including those that want to go sea fishing.
Take a trip to the East side and head up the 199 steps to the Abbey and Church ,worth a trip as the views are amazing and on the journey stop and take photographs of the panorama or the cottages down below.
Deep breaths are required for the 199 steps but there are benches along the way. Or try the goat track that runs alongside the steps, but be warned you need to be like a mountain goat to reach the top.
There is a tourist bus that travels around Whitby, it departs from the Harbour and you can get on and off wherever you wish and this will take you to the Abbey, if you don't fancy or can't make the 199 steps.
St Marys church is lovely and worth a visit. The churchyard is very atmospheric and full of tombstones which have been weathered away as you would expect being at the top of a cliff. Years ago we attended a Church Service here and sat in the old boxed pews.
The Abbey is in ruins and I must admit we have never got close up.
There are lots of lovely walks around Whitby in all directions. If you feel energetic you can walk along the cliff on the Cleveland Way to Robin Hoods Bay, which is a very pretty spot. Less commercial and smaller than Whitby but be warned the walk down to the sea is very steep.
Whitby has a varied selection of shops , on the East side lots of jewellery shops selling Whitby Jet pieces, lots of sweetie shops and plenty of places to buy ornaments paintings and photographs, plus some vintage clothes shops. On the West side Bothams the baker is worth a visit as the bread and cakes are lovely. In the back streets you will find some bric a brac shops but they are slowly disappearing and more Charity shops are appearing and Somerfield's is now a Poundland. A sign of the times sadly.
Whitby does get very crowded so I would recommend wandering around early morning or early evening particularly on the East side where the streets are narrow and cobbled and it becomes a little challenging especially as the pavements are narrow.
Whitby is full of character with small alleyways and passages to explore. On the East side the cottages are tall and narrow and tend to be 3 or 4 storeys high.
Places to eat are plentiful and be prepared to queue if you want to visit the Magpie café which is definitely worth the wait. The queue starts early and they have had to form a waiting area on the other side of the road. Fabulous fish and chips, but I would not recommend their takeaway version.
We tend to have dogs in tow , so usually try to find dog friendly places so haven't tried all the restaurants , but we have had lovely breakfasts at the cafés right on the end of the harbour ,one at the top of Grape Lane . Also try the cakes at Becketts on Skinner Street where they actively encourage dog owners and while you are scoffing the cake can browse the second hand books which are on sale. The staff are very warm and friendly and the atmosphere is very welcoming. Not open every day though unfortunately. Also I would recommend sharing the cake as the portions are very large.
Places to stay are plentiful and there are masses of bed and breakfast establishments, cottages and apartments to rent and a couple of Hotels. We have stayed at the Royal which is the largest hotel and tends to cater for coach parties. We have stayed with family and so have sampled the entertainment on offer which includes bingo ballroom dancing and cabaret. Not normally my type of thing and better on some nights than others.
The rooms vary but we had a sea view room the size of a ballroom. It needed refurbishing but we were out and about so wasn't an issue. The food was OK nothing to write home about. I am not selling the place but we did enjoy our stay with our family.
We have stayed in various cottages all of which have been lovely, but now tend to favour the West side as negotiating the narrow cobbled streets to unload and load on the East side is rather stressful particularly with 2 dogs in tow .
The Spa Theatre often features themed entertainment which includes 60's weekends where you will find Whitby full of ageing mods on their scooters.
Dracula will take you around Whitby most evenings and starts his tour outside the Royal. Plus Whitby is now a mecca for Goths and runs a number of events during the year.
Down by the harbour there are a couple of amusement arcades and some children's rides plus the Dracula experience.
There are plenty of places to visit including Scarborough or further north you will find Staithes and Saltburn. We liked Saltburn as it has a lovely woodland park with an old railway running through and a vernacular lift to the top of the cliff, plus miles of beach. It has seen better days but we enjoyed the drive and our fish and chips plus a bracing walk.
You can also take a trip on the Moorlander a steam train that will take you inland to Goathland and Pickering. It does serve lunch and dinner but based on our experience I would not recommend the food, however we did receive a full refund. It was a great shame but we paid nearly £100 for lunch for 2 and expected something special. Perhaps it was an off day!
I would really recommend a visit to Whitby , you are at the mercy of our weather and if you do visit, be warned if it is misty and foggy , it tends to linger longer in Whitby - it must be the Dracula connection!
We love Whitby and never tire of wandering round the streets, walking the beaches and coastal paths and tend to stay a few days or a week at a time.
So five stars from me.
Summary: A great English seaside resort