The drive up to Whitby was uneventful and very pleasant - I wasn't sure where I would be able to park when I got there but following the relevant signs brought me to a big car park by the side of the marina, and though the first part of it was full there was plenty of space in the other part. After paying for my ticket and giving the dogs a drink I slung my camera round my neck and set off in pursuit of something to photograph. The marina was absolutely full of boats of all different sizes and colours moored alongside various jetties, some of them two and three abreast - across the far side were terraces of tall and narrow red-roofed houses, and high on the hill behind the old town the ruined abbey stood tall against the backdrop of the blue sky. The abbey would be my next port of call, so after taking a few photos from the far side of the marina I found an alleyway signposted in that direction and set off on the climb up the hillside path.
As I got almost to the top of the hill I came across a lovely little skewbald foal with its mother and I couldn't resist stopping to take a few shots of them. Then it was on a bit further and to the abbey itself - unfortunately dogs are only allowed in certain areas so I wasn't able to explore the ruins, but I was able to see most of what I wanted by walking round the perimeter wall and the adjoining gardens.
Next door to the abbey was St Mary's church and graveyard, and though several people were wandering round looking at the gravestones it wasn't something I was particularly interested in doing so I decided to make my way down to the harbour via the famous 199 steps - and given the steepness of the hill and the red faces of people who passed me I was glad I was going down and not up! The view was good though - rows of colour-washed cottages with red roofs were built into the hillside at varying intervals, and beyond them I could see one wall of the outer harbour and the end of the promenade, above which were cliff top gardens and a big white-walled hotel. At the bottom of the steps cobbled streets and narrow alleyways were filled with quaint little shops and cafes, and following one of these streets brought me out at the harbourside. To my right was a small quiet beach where a handful of people were enjoying the sunshine, and in front of me a few private yachts sailed silently through calm waters on their way into or out of the harbour.
Making my way to the swing bridge which carries the main road from the old town to the 'new' town I crossed over to the other side of the harbour and found it to be in complete contrast to the old side. Although the streets of the old town were busy with tourists there was still a calm and quiet air about the place - here on the new side was commercialism, with gift shops, cafes, pubs and amusement arcades along the whole length of the quayside promenade, and all the hustle and bustle which goes with such places. About halfway along was the Magpie Cafe which is famous for its fish and chips - testament to that was the length of the queue, which came from the cafe door and snaked for many yards back along the pavement. I wouldn't have liked to be at the back of that lot - by the time I got to the front I think any hunger would have deserted me!
At the far end of the promenade was a small round whitewashed building topped with a conical roof and with numerous colourful buckets, spades, windmills and inflatables for sale outside, and next to this was a small enclosure with a handful of brightly coloured childrens rides. The promenade turned a corner at this point and ended in a large open area with tables set outside a couple of cafes, and a surrounding stone wall broken by a concrete ramp leading down to a nice beach. By this time my breakfast was a long-distant memory and I was feeling quite peckish, so after taking a few photos I hitched the dogs to a railing close to the door of the Beachside Cafe and went inside to see what was on offer. Opting for apple pie and cream rather than cake, and a latte coffee, I went to sit at a table near the door so I could keep an eye on Sophie and Sugar while I satisfied my hunger.
With my thirst quenched and the apple pie well and truly demolished I decided to walk out along the nearest of the twin stone-built piers which form the entrance to the outer harbour. Bench seats were set back-to-back in groups of four along its length and towards the end was an old tall and narrow stone-built lighthouse, an almost-twin to the one on the opposite pier. At 83ft high it hasn't operated as a lighthouse for many years, though it does display a green light as a navigational aid which can be seen from a distance of ten miles. Unlike the lighthouse on the opposite pier this one is open to the public during spring and summer months, but having the dogs with me meant I was unable to go in. However, after chatting to the very nice man who was sitting near the door and taking the modest entrance fee I was able to go in while he looked after Sophie and Sugar for me. The narrow stone staircase wound its way upwards in a very tight spiral, and meeting someone coming down meant squeezing past each other sideways. There were seventy five steps in all - I counted them going up and again on the way down to double-check - and a narrow doorway at the top opened onto a narrow balcony which ran all the way round the tower. Not to be recommended for anyone with an aversion to heights and small spaces, but the view was worth the climb. Looking back, most of Whitby was spread out in front of me; to my right I could see the beach at Sandsend about three miles along the coast and to my left was the opposite pier and the cliff top on which stood the abbey and St. Mary's church. I spent quite a while taking in the view before making my way back down again to collect Sophie and Sugar from their temporary dog minder.
Walking back along the pier and onto the promenade I turned off behind the shops and followed the winding road which led up to the cliff top where the big white hotel was situated. There were some lovely lawned areas traversed with paths and with plenty of bench seats in various places, so after taking a few more photos I sat for a while in the sunshine while I took in the view across the harbour to the old town and the abbey on the headland.
Checking the time on my phone told me it was only 2.30pm and I still had several hours to play with, so I decided to make my way back to the van and drive a bit further north. I had found Whitby to be a surprising and very lovely place, but with the weather being so good I didn't want to pass up the chance to see what other delights I could find along the coast.