Whitby Abbey is the must see attraction of Whitby, founded in 657 as a small monastery by St. Hilda who was a Christian saint. Two hundred years later it was wrecked by the Vikings and left in ruins for another 200 years. In 1078 century, it was completely rebuilt as a Benedictine monastery, the remains are what you see today. King Henry VIII closed the Abbey in 1539 along with many others valuable fixtures and fittings and lead were stripped and removed and the abbey was left in ruins. The west wall was later destroyed in 1914 from shelling by the German Navy during World War One. Whitby Abbey regularly hosts Dracula plays in the summer season, why not watch the legendary tale performed live. Feeling thirsty why not visit the Whitby Brewery for a handmade pizza and to try the local beer.
Make your way along the Church Street cobbles and you will come to the famous 199 steps. Climb the steps counting as you go up to St Marys Church, you will note the first memorial you come to at the top of the steps is the final resting place of George Austen the Whitby rector who lived at Highgate House from 1881 – 1920. Take a well-earned rest on the bench and enjoy the stunning views of the West cliff.
You’re at the seaside so go buy some rock, candy floss or an ice cream and take it with you to the beach. Whitby Beach is on the West side and there’s paths down plus a lift if you are making your way down from the top. You can hire a deckchair right on the beach and watch the world go by. Tide allowing you can walk to the neighbouring pretty village of Sandsend which takes 75 minutes each way. A well-earned drink will be the order of the day at the White Hart in the village.
Go Shopping for Whitby Jet
In the old town (on the East side) you’ll find lots of independent shops selling Whitby’s jet jewellery. Whitby Jet is a gemstone – a fossil formed over millions of years from the resin of monkey trees of the Jurassic period. It washes up on the beaches and can also be found in cliffs. To view the best examples of Whitby jet fossils why not visit the free W Hamond Whitby Jet Museum next to Albert’s Eatery in the old Methodist church.
Whalebone Arch & Captain Cook
Whitby used to be a whaling port between 1750 and 1840 when ships sailed to Arctic Seas to hunt for whales. They were killed mainly for their oil to fuel oil lamps. It was a risky business and many ships never returned to Whitby. Thankfully those days have long gone. To commemorate Whitby’s maritime heritage the Whalebone Arch was erected in 1853 and has become a local landmark. The arch is made from 2 whale jawbones they are 5.8m high and come from a bowhead whale killed legally by a native Inuit in 1996. Next to the Whalebone Arch is a memorial statue to the famous explorer Captain James Cook. He was born nearby and served his apprenticeship in Whitby. His ship HMS Endeavour was built right here in Whitby and launched in 1764.
Why not go along to the local Ghost Walk guided by Dr Crank who you cannot miss, dressed in his long black coat. The tour is really good fun and lasts around an hour, walk around the West Cliff whilst listening to Dr Crank telling ghoulish tales and history of Whitby; an excellent storyteller and passionate about history. There’s no need to book just turn up at 7.30pm at the Whale Bone Arch, located on the West Cliff, it costs £7 per adult. Dr Crank also does another walk In Search of Dracula, check out further details on the Whitby walks. As Doctor Crank says “there’s a right way, a wrong way and the Whitby way”
Take a trip to the village of Goathland, or its fictional name of Aidensfield where the famous location of the hit TV series Heartbeat was filmed. Take a tour of this charming village including Bernie Scripps Garage and Funeral Parlour, plus the train station that was featured as Aidensfield station in Heartbeat and as Hogsmeade in the first Harry Potter film. You will also find the post office, stores and of course, there will be time to treat yourself to a drink in the Aidensfield Arms pub.
Whitby Coastal Cruises operate a number of different boat trips out of Whitby Harbour, with regular sailings throughout the day. They offer plenty of opportunities to experience the Yorkshire coast from a unique perspective. There are daily boat trips departing from the harbour; some short, some longer and some lucky ones finding whales! The trip boards from opposite The Angel Hotel in the Harbour.
North Yorkshire Railway
Enjoy an unforgettable dining experience through the stunning North York Moors National Park. Sit back and relax onboard whilst you enjoy a delicious meal with your loved ones.
They pride themselves on offering the highest quality service, seasonal menus featuring the best locally sourced food and drink, as you travel on a journey through the heart of the picturesque countryside.
Restored to their former glory the luxurious carriages are a stylish sanctuary, transporting guests back in time to the golden age of train travel. Check out the North Yorkshire moors railway for full details and availability.
Pannett Park located in the heart of the town; it is a tranquil, peaceful place. Beautiful gardens and home to the Whitby Museum and art gallery. The museum displays the famous mummified hand known as the “Hand of Glory” and is one to tick off your visit to Whitby. Take the opportunity in summer to stroll through the gardens and enjoy the armona of the flowers.
Whitby Top Tips
Just beyond Whitby
Robin Hoods Bay
Robin Hood’s Bay or the “Bay” as it’s known locally is an old fishing village on the North Yorkshire Coast, there is much history and folklore associated with the village. As well as being an interesting and quirky place to visit, there are still a lot of local people who live and work here which is great to see. In the summer, you will see small boats being taken out and returning from a day’s fishing. Please take care when boats are being moved around near the slipway, they have no steering wheel nor brakes!!