Whitby: A Snapshot

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Whitby: A Snapshot

by Beth Wilson

The Yorkshire town of Whitby is a place I have always known about. However, when telling people I was venturing there for an Easter break, I found that many I talked to were not familiar with it. When I described its location, saying it was only a short distance along the coast from Scarborough, I felt as though many were writing it off as just another seaside town.

harbour yorkshireIn actual fact, a better description of Whitby is a coastal version of York. Its most famous attraction (other than, perhaps, The Magpie Cafe that I will mention later!), is the Abbey.

Dating back to the year 1220, the Gothic remains overlook the town and harbour and are accessed by taking what feels like a vertical climb, up the 199 ‘abbey steps’. And the town is, of course, a literary location in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the Count’s ship running aground just off the coast with a huge, shadowy dog as the wreck’s only survivor.

“Rows of quirky little cafes and shops”

coffe and cakeAlthough Whitby has its fair share of typical amusement arcades along the coastline, one turn around the corner and you’re in another world. Historic, cobbled side-streets house row after row of quirky little cafes and shops. Most memorable of my stops along these streets is at Marie Antoinette’s. Here, a sign on the door aptly echoes her famous phrase: ‘Let them eat cake’.

Calling it merely a cafe does it an injustice as all of the cakes are beautifully made, deliciously flavoured and served in generous portions. The Magpie Cafe has a sterling reputation with tourists and locals alike. A homely and relaxed ambience greets you at the door and continues into the dining area. The menu is surprisingly varied, with a huge range of locally-caught fish including scallops, lobster, kippers and various other smoked fish. There is also a good list of veggie options. Although I myself am no connoisseur of fish and chips, the people I ate with said the grub was as tasty as any they had sampled.

“Walks along the dramatic coastline”

dining cafe refinedIf fish and chips isn’t your bag, Harry’s Lounge Bar and Brasserie offers a contemporary alternative for the discerning diner. With stylish decor and an unassuming atmosphere, it has a unique take on dining.

Each plate is starter-sized so they recommend you choose at least two dishes per person. At first this may seem a bizarre concept. However, I am grateful as it means I am able to sample two delicious recipes. The chowder is particularly exciting, delightfully thick and contains large chunks of beautiful fish.

rocky beach in yorkshire east coastDespite a couple of days of torrential rain, I managed a few walks along the coastline. These walks are not best suited to those with a fear of heights! The cliff edge is less than a metre away from the path. It reveals spectacular views of the waves crashing against the rocks. The route of the footpath changes annually with coastal erosion. This process pulls down different parts of the cliff every year – which makes for some extreme walking.

So, Whitby – a few myths and legends, some history, a bit of shopping, dramatic walks and some decent food. What more could you ask for on a mini-break?

images: Beth Wilson

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