Jo’s Monday walk : Whitby cliff tops

St. Mary's Church, suspended on the cliff top

St. Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey, suspended on the cliff top

Now, I know what you’re thinking!  ‘This lady is obsessed with cliff tops and water’.  And you wouldn’t be very far wrong.  After the cliffs at Sagres in the Algarve, and last week’s Seaham walk, it’s becoming a recurring theme.  I do try to vary my walks for you, but I can’t help being just a little biased.

This week we’re going down the North Yorkshire coast to Whitby.  Last time I took you there we went window shopping.  It’s a small town that has something for everyone, but my favourite part is unquestionably up on the cliff, looking down.  First we have to get up there.  We’ll tackle the steps pretty soon, to get them out of the way.  Your reward can be fish and chips afterwards. Agreed?

The car park is right next to the marina- a good place to start

The car park is right next to the marina- a good place to start!

And today there's a treat! The swing bridge is opening.

And today there’s a treat! The swing bridge is opening.

In all my years, I have rarely seen this sight in the bustling little port.  A crowd gathers to watch the sailboat go by, and as the gates swing shut again, a queue forms to cross over the bridge.  A delightful party of small schoolchildren with cheery blazers were being corralled by their teachers. I’d have loved a shot but they were too fidgety!  Over we go, to be met by a confusion of signs.

There is a confusion of signs! And can you see the bubbles coming out of that box?

I thought these bubbles were with the schoolchildren, but apparently not!

And then it's the steps!

Then it’s the steps!  Only 199 of them

But don't worry!  You can stop to admire the view.

But don’t worry! You can keep stopping to admire the view.

It's lovely in either direction

It’s lovely in either direction

Here's an interesting place to live!

Here’s an interesting place to live!  Next to Caedmon’s Trod

And at the top St. Mary's Church is beckoning

And at the top, St. Mary’s Church quietly waits

Whitby has been welcoming visitors for a long time.  The earliest record of a permanent settlement is 656AD, when an abbey was founded on the East Cliff by Oswy, the Christian king of Northumbria.  Viking raiders destroyed the monastery that followed, and for 200 years the site lay desolate, until after the Norman Conquest of 1066.  The area was then granted to William de Percy who, in 1078, donated land upon which was constructed a Benedictine Monastery, St. Mary’s Church and the town and port of Whitby.

The name Whitby comes from Old Norse, meaning ‘White Settlement’.  It was here, in Whitby Abbey, that the earliest recognised English poet, Caedmon, a former cowherd, lived and worked. The town has a strong literary history and famously features in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Set on the River Esk, Whitby has a sheltered harbour, and in the 18th century the port was a thriving centre for shipbuilding, whaling and the transport of locally mined alum and jet.  The jet became very fashionable when Queen Victoria adopted it for her mourning jewellery on the death of Prince Albert.  Whitby jet shops still feature prominently in the cobbled streets today.

The clouds are gathering, so it's time to move on

The clouds are gathering, so it’s time to move on

We pass the entrance to the Abbey ruins

Pass by the entrance to the Abbey ruins

And out on the cliff top, look back at Whitby Abbey

And out on the cliff top, look back at Whitby Abbey and the pier

Ahead of us lies Saltwell Nab

Ahead lies Saltwell Nab

And beyond that, Whitby Holiday Park, balanced precariously on the cliffs

And beyond that, Whitby Holiday Park, balanced precariously on the cliffs

At this point you can turn inland and follow a path back to the coast road, but I wanted to see more.  We are only 1 mile out of Whitby, and 5 miles further down the coast is idyllic Robin Hood’s Bay.  I continue on, along the Cleveland Way.

Whitby is still visible in the distance

Whitby is still visible in the distance

And below the bay glistens

And below, the glistening bay

While colourful Cinnebar moths  flutter at the cliff's edge

While colourful red and black Cinnebar moths explore delicious yellow cowslips

Another treat in store next- a former lighthouse and fog-horn station

Another treat awaits – a lighthouse and a fog-horn station!

‘Hornblower Lodge’ is now a holiday cottage, but was formerly a fog-horn station, fondly known as the Whitby Bull.  The original horn was switched off in 1987 but before that it worked in conjunction with Whitby High Light.  The lighthouse is only 13 metres high but is positioned on the cliff top, 73 metres above high water level, with a range of 18 nautical miles.

The lighthouse also has holiday cottages to let, details included in the link.

High light

Whitby High Light

Wouldn't you like to live here?

Wouldn’t you like to live here?  I would!

Or how about 'Hornblower Cottage'?

Or how about ‘Hornblower Cottage’?

A lane heads inland from the cottage, taking you past farmland, and soon you are back on the coastal road.  You can follow this all the way back to Whitby and visit the Abbey, if you like.  It’s well worth a visit, and there is a restaurant on site.  Or you can save the visit for another day and take the footpath to your left, just past the Holiday Park sign.  This will bring you back into Whitby, threading your way down through the houses to end up almost opposite your start point.

Heading back to Whitby

Heading back to Whitby

Down the steps through the houses

Down the steps, and past the houses

Back at your start point, at the harbourside

Till you’re back at our start point, by the harbour

These are the newest lobster pots I ever saw!

These are the newest lobster pots I have ever seen!

Speaking of lobster, I seem to remember we had an agreement?  Whitby is full of fish and chip shops but ‘Hadleys’ is a favourite of mine.  Always busy, I don’t know how the girls stay so cheerful.  You’ll find it on the corner, just over the swing bridge and before the Whitby steps.

No, I haven't forgotten!  Believe me, they are really good

A little expensive, but very good

Just one last photo, for Jill, who thinks my skies are always blue

Just one last photo, for Jill, who thinks my skies are always blue!

The downpour drove me inside the excellent Tourist Information Centre, right by the car park, but it didn’t last for long.  Or I could have gone shopping for Whitby jet.

What do you think?

What do you think?

My walk is about 6 miles in total, or the shorter version 4 and a half.  I hope you enjoyed it.  If you don’t drive, Whitby is easily accessible by rail from Middlesbrough.  This link will give you lots more information about the area, to encourage you to visit.

walking logo

I’m so lucky this week!  Meg has agreed to be my tour guide to the Wilanow Palace in Warsaw  :

http://morselsandscraps2.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/a-stroll-through-the-gardens-at-wilanow/

And she doesn’t mind a spot of rain, either  :

http://morselsandscraps2.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/walking-in-the-rain/

Drake introduced me to Svendborg in Denmark.  What a beauty!  :

http://ledrakenoir.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/an-old-port-out-to-the-world/

Please don’t miss Jude’s Logan Botanic Gardens.  You will be bedazzled!  :

http://smallbluegreenflowers.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/garden-portrait-logan-botanic-garden/

Sylvia is running out of time for her beach walks, but don’t be sad!  :

http://anotherday2paradise.wordpress.com/2014/07/15/another-nostalgic-beach-walk-for-jo/

And I got deluged at the falls with Amy- and loved it!  :

http://shareandconnect.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/jos-monday-walk-multnomah-falls/

Pauline (you know her as Pommepal) has sent me a post all the way from Canberra, down under  :

http://pommepal.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/welcome-to-cool-climate-canberra/

And I thought I’d just update you on Elaine  :

http://elainemcnulty.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/yorkshire-3-peaks-challenge-the-update/

That’s quite a lot of reading for you so you’ll need a cuppa (or two!).  I promise to find you a flat walk for next week.  If you’d like to join me, just click on the logo for details.

170 comments

  1. Fascinating post Jo I’ve enjoyed reading it very much! Whitby is one of my favourite spots to visit (hailing originally from Yorkshire as I do) have been there many times over the years. I remember the climb up to the Abbey very well but what fantastic views along the way and from the top! I love Robin Hood’s Bay too and all the quaint little fishermen’s cottages – we must have been there in the summer last as I remember the windows being adorned with pretty planter boxes. I’ve always driven along from Whitby so loved reading about about the walk thanks for sharing, kind regards Rosemary (Le Chic En Rose) 🙂

  2. Ahh, Whitby, one of my favourite places.
    We spent a week at Whitby Holiday Park early June again. I just love your photos…..memories…..We ended up walking to the lighthouse in your photo….I really must get around to blogging about it 🙂

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