Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Windy Whitby: Return to the Sea

After a relaxing and productive Saturday around the neighborhood, we were winding down on the couch watching an episode of Mad Men (Season 5 was recently released to US Netflix).  I'm dozing off and Kerry asks me, "What do you want to do tomorrow?"  I say, "Ughhh...".  But then I remembered one of my chambered day trip ideas (cancelled due to inclement weather) from when my parents were visiting - Whitby!  We shall return to the sea!

Already better than Skegness!

We went to bed without making any plans, but I did have the forethought to top up the diesel in the Focus, and I had accrued a respectable amount of high denomination coins (1, 50p, and 20p's) in the cupholder which would allow me to pay any bus or parking fare with exact change.  I felt confident to take on anything!

I woke with the sun early and grabbed the Fodors England 2012 to look up Whitby.  1 whole page of information!  I figured out the basics in under 10 minutes, and made special note of a text box in the margin which mentioned the cliff walk from Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay.  Next step was to hit up parkopedia.co.uk to understand my options for Whitby parking and write down a postcode that my GPS SatNav will understand.  

By 7 am I was ready, so I woke up Kerry and explained all our options.  I even suggested a backup plan to visit Goathland waterfalls and quaint steam train station if we got bored of Whitby.  She didn't process any of that having just woken, but nevermind, get ready to go!  We were on our way by 8:30 after a hearty breakfast and packing minimal provisions - water, cash, camera, nuts, dried apricots, sweatshirts, rainjackets, and phones.

A daytrip had materialized in mere moments - the 2.5 hour drive up through Yorkshire to the North York Moors National Park went quickly.  The sun was shining and the scenery was pleasant.  If you're like me, you won't know what a "moor" actually is.  I suppose I thought it  was like a hill or something?  Well it's a bit more specific than that.  A hill is a dale.  A moor is actually a type of habitat characterized by low-growing vegetation (mostly soft heather) on acidic soil.  So when we got into the York Moors park, I was quite surprised.  The landscape almost reminded me of a hilly, high desert since nothing was in bloom.  It appeared that some controlled burning had recently been started possibly to control the growth of the heather.

Here, closer to the sea the grass was greener.  But as you can see, not many trees.

Upon arriving in Whitby, I was following signs for parking when I noticed that many open street parking spots were available for was free - we're only a short walk from the touristy area, so we took advantage and saved 5 pounds.

Greeted with spectacular coastal views immediately

Capt'n James Cook learned how to be an explorer in Whitby before setting off on his adventures.

Kerry under a blue whale jawbone statue "Look no gloves!" The warmth was welcome.

We made our way down to the beach and I was drinking in the sun (I actually over did it and got a sunburn on my bald head...)

Setting off on our walk we had to cross the one weak bridge that connects the "new" Whitby to the "old" Whitby.  Luckily we weigh under 7.5 tons.

We weren't the only ones who thought it was a good day to visit a seaside town. Everyone was enjoying the quaint atmosphere of the town.

The steps up to the ruins of Whitby Abbey, where we'd pick up the trail.

The graveyard by the chruch - sandblasted tombstones.  It was very windy today, as you will see in a moment.

The Whitby Abby after being destroyed by King Henry VIII.   Bram Stoker was inspired by this structure, and made it the setting for Dracula.  
So of course there's a tourist trap about Dracula...

Found the trail!  The Cleveland Way is 140 miles long around the perimeter of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  We're only going to cover 6.5 of those miles along the coast.

The Whitby pier behind us as we set off

Striking views along the cliff edge trail
The wind was getting pretty severe - actually putting us off balance!  I started to worry Kerry might get blown off the cliff edge.  When we found ourselves in a sudden rain outburst, I contemplated turning around.  

The rain was just a sprinkle though, so we forged ahead.  The conversation was short, since we had to yell at each other in order to be heard.  Soon enough the wind went from severe to moderate and the rain stopped.

More great views of cliffs, sea, and sky

Into the wind!

The soft grasses made the footing a little unsure, so Kerry crawled out to peak over the edge.

A lighthouse (and a raindrop on the lens)

Snuggling lambs in a ditch trying to block out the wind

Panorama of the Cleveland trail

One of my favorites - looking back at what we've covered as we neared Robin Hood's Bay.  The exposed rocks go back to the Jurassic era.

No one really thinks Robin Hood hung out at Robin Hood's Bay, but there's an old tale about how presumably stole from the rich and gave to the poor up here too.  In reality Robin Hood's Bay was known for smuggling things like alcohol and tobacco from France into Britain to avoid tax.  At one point hundreds of years ago, Robin Hood's Bay was a booming port!  Now it's just a cute little village full of B&B's and tea shops.  As the tide was out, folks were down in the pools looking for fossils.

Really liked the landscaping here - I wonder if I can get inspired to do my yard like this when I get back to Indiana?

Crazy steep grade on the only road down into the village. You go up this twice a day and you'll get a decent amount of exercise.  My hamstrings were feeling it.

We've covered over 7 miles in about 3.5 hours and we're spent!  We stopped in a little cafe for tea, soup, and shared a sliceo of lemon cake.

A bus runs every hour on Sundays back to Whitby, so we hopped on to get back to our starting point in about 15 minutes.  Most expensive bus fare I've encountered at 3.90/person for such a short distance!  They know most folks don't want to walk back.

Back in Whitby feeling refreshed, we walked around town a bit more.  We checked out the more cheesy tourist traps that English seaside towns all seem to share in common - the arcade.
Pleasureland - come prepared with your 2p coins

Pleasureland was filled with arcade games, both video and old school like the claw and those terrible coin games where a pushing bar slowly puts the coins toward an edge.  If you're lucky your 2p coin will set off the whole lot and you can maybe win a lot more 2p coins.

I've never seen so many 2p coins in one place - they even had change machines which only gave 2p coins!  I watched as others dumped there 2p's into the machine, every 5th coin they'd win about 7 or 8 2p coins.  It was like a viscious time-wasting cycle.

After laughing at all the silliness of the arcade we checked out a few more shops and views before settling on an early dinner.

Out on the pier - the wind had died down

Taking in the whole town, with the abbey always imposing down at us

A locally-sourced seafood dinner!  Kerry had the flounder and I had the mussels (with a rock oyster starter - I hadn't had oysters in a long time!)

One final peek at the abbey on our way back to the car

Well, it was a great day trip.  We decided to class it up for our meal at the end since our only other expense was the tea, bus ride, and fuel.  We both decided to opt out of paying admission to the abbey or other museums.  Everyone I talk to raves about the fish & chips in Whitby, and yes they were popular.  Everyone was eating them out of cardboard boxes from Magpie's Cafe.  But in my opinion the freshness of the cod gets overwhelmed by the fryer.  I'm starting to think it's more of a tradition of eating fish 'n chips in Whitby that makes them taste better, because of all the fond memories of holidays past.  There is no truly "great" fish 'n chips.

We were home by 9 pm, exhausted but happy, and ready for the week ahead. That's all for now!


  1. Thanks for posting, Whitby was on my list but we never made it up there so now my satisfactory has been cured. I agree on the fish and chips, must be a cultural thing. Good job on getting in a long day trip.

  2. I finally caught up on your blog posts! I think we need to check out both Oxford and Cambridge, although I'm not sure how keen I am on birdwatching...
    Lots of laughs, and I enjoyed all the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie references.