Whitby – the Capital of Gods Own Country

Wonderful Whitby into 7 must sees….

I personally don’t believe in god.  Moreover that god created anywhere.  Until I saw Whitby.  I am speaking metaphorically but this place is literally heaven.

Around every corner history, I’m not just talking history, I’m talking HISTORY!….LITERATURE…..HISTORY..did I mention scenery?

The first monastery was founded around 657. It was one of the most important religious centres in the Anglo-Saxon world.  In 664 it was the setting for the Synod of Whitby, a landmark in the history of the Church in England.  The headland is now dominated by the shell of the 13th-century church of the Benedictine abbey founded after the Norman Conquest.

Whitby is nestled within the stunning North York Moors. It is a feast for the eyes as you approach. My favorite time of the year is when the moors are purple with heather.

And then you have…the Goth/Steampunk following! It is incredible!!!

And what is Whitby most famous for???….  Bram Stokers Dracula! While staying in Whitby, Stoker would have heard of the shipwreck five years earlier of a Russian vessel called the Dmitri, from Narva. The innocent tourists, the picturesque harbour, the abbey ruins, the windswept churchyard and the salty tales he heard from Whitby seafarers all became ingredients in the novel.  As you walk around Whitby you will certainly feel the Gothic influences which inspired Bram in 1890. I personally feel it most in the churchyard. The headstones are amazing.

So I’ve decided to put Wonderful Whitby into 7 must sees….

1. Whitby Abbey
Its a given.  It dominates the landscape for miles – you simply have to go there!  One of the most outstanding and equally breathtaking English Heritage sites. Its £20.90 for a family to get into or free for English Heritage Members and I do recommend getting the English Heritage Membership. You can visit Whitby Abbey again for free and many other fantastic sites which will be covered on this website.  Worth noting also that Whitby frequently has events and activities on which get the kids interested in history . Last summer we designed flags and got dressed up.

And while you are there you cant not have a lie down in the open grave and scare yourself!

Other great Yorkshire Abbeys to check out are Kirkstall & Rievaulx.

2. The 199 Steps – Make sure to sit on the coffin rests on the way up!
Before the 19th century when St Mary’s was still open for burials, many people preferred to be carried up the steps, rather than giving their relatives a more easy journey and having their bodies carried in a horse and carriage along Green Lane. It must have been extremely tiring carrying a body up 199 steps, so wooden planks were built in place to place the coffin on and give the pall-bearers a rest. They are now used as benches for the living to rest on. Though official pall-bearers weren’t always used, often men would be carried by their male companions, women would be carried up by female friends and family members, and children would be carried by children.

3. St Marys Church
St Marys Church is an Anglican Parish Chuch which services Whitby.  It was founded in 1110 although its interior dates much later.  It is now a Grade I listed building.

4. Whitby Coastal Cruises
The River throughout Whitby which flows into the sea is the River Esk.  From here Whitby Coastal Cruises run affordable yellow boats – £3 for 20-25 minutes – from the Brewery Steps – please ask for my smashing mate John (fallen out of the Jolly Sailor after a enjoying pint or three together) – tell him Fran sent you for a voyage on either The Summer Queen, The Specksioneer or The Esk Belle III. You might even spot a Minky Whale or Seal if you are lucky!

5. The Whale Bone Arch & Captain Cooks Monument – Both on The West Cliff
The famous whalebone arch on Whitby’s West Cliff is a symbol of the whaling industry that thrived there and in other English ports like Hull and Yarmouth in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The 15 ft bones are from a Bowhead whale, killed under license by Alaskan Inuits, and unveiled by Miss Alaska in 2003. An even larger arch stood on the same spot, made from the 20 ft jaw bones of a Fin whale presented to the town by Norway in 1963.


James Cook (1728-1779) was born in the village of Marton near Middlesbrough and later apprenticed to a draper in the small fishing harbour of Staithes (11 miles north of Whitby).  There he fell in love with the sea and his time in Staithes is remembered in the Captain Cook and Staithes Heritage Centre. Later he moved to Whitby and became a trainee with a local shipping firm. The house where he lodged with his master is still in Whitby’s Grape Lane and is now open to the public as the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. Later, he joined the Royal Navy and was rapidly promoted to a command.

It is as Captain Cook that the world still knows him. The man who charted the coast of New Zealand and the eastern coast of Australia. He was one of the greatest surveyors as well as one of the finest sailors and explorers of all time. He learned his craft in Whitby vessels trading to the Baltic. Two of the vessels he used on his long and perilous voyages – ‘Resolution’ and ‘Endeavour’ were built in Whitby.

6. The North York Moors Railway
Get yourself booked on a steam train or an ornate vintage diesel motor which tears through the heart of the North York Moors giving you superb scenery and a wonderful day out in either Pickering or Goathland.  Goathland is just awesome – popular TV series Heartbeat was filmed here and the village has kept all the vintage Aidensfield mementos.  

7.  The Buck Inn.
For me, this pub wins in Whitby. Please feel free to disagree, but The Buck was my favorite watering hole.  Fantastic lively atmosphere – especially on a Saturday while cheering on the magnificent Leeds United.

Go See For Yourself!

I have most definitely missed so much out, from the beautiful jewelers selling Whitby Jet, to fishmongers selling fresh Oysters, the massive selection of pubs and eateries, fish and chip shops, the beaches…..so go have a look and see what you make of Whitby.  Just don’t let the seagulls pinch your Chips!

About Frances Stoner 29 Articles
Mum of "The Traveling Family UK" - here there and everywhere - love life and living. I enjoy the odd (bucket of) wine and love trying new food. My kids drive me mad but keep me driven. My husband comes up with the ideas - I execute them - and him. Oh and my dogs....my babies forever! Love them!

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