The seaside town and fishing port of Whitby is situated at the mouth of the River Esk on the North Yorkshire coast. A swing bridge, built in 1908 and with a 75ft span, separates the inner and outer harbours and also the old town from it's newer side. On the 'new' side are modern shops, harbourside cafes, amusements and donkey rides on the beach, while the old town has a maze of cobbled streets and alleyways with quaint little shops and cafes. The outer harbour is sheltered by the east and west piers, each with a lighthouse and beacon - the west lighthouse, at 84ft, is the taller of the two and for a small fee it's possible to climb the spiral staircase inside to the viewing platform near the top.
The Whitby skyline is dominated by the ruins of St. Hilda's Abbey high up on the east cliff, and nearby is St. Mary's church, whose graveyard gave Bram Stoker the inspiration to write his famous book Dracula. The abbey itself has a long association with Dracula and towards the end of May an annual Goth weekend is held in the grounds. From the churchyard 199 steps lead down the hill to the streets of the old town - going down is okay but going up is quite a strenuous climb.
As well as Bram Stoker, Whitby has produced several other famous people, among them Captain James Cook, the 18th century explorer and voyager; his ship the Endeavor was built in Whitby and he sailed from there on his voyage to Australia and New Zealand. A statue of him stands on the west cliff near the Royal Hotel, and nearby is a whalebone arch which commemorates Whitby's links with the one-time whaling industry.
The town is surrounded on its landward sides by the moorland of the North York Moors National Park; from the station close to the marina a steam train service runs inland to Pickering, passing through the village of Goathland, otherwise known as Aidensfield in the long-running Heartbeat tv series. Whitby itself is part of the 'Fossil Coast' which stretches 35 miles from Staithes in the north down to Flamborough Head, and fossil hunting on the beaches is popular with many visitors.
There's a wealth of hotels, B & Bs, guesthouses and camp sites in Whitby and the surrounding area, and with the popular seaside resorts of Scarborough, Filey and Bridlington to the south, and the pretty little fishing villages of Robin Hood's Bay and Runswick bay only a few miles away, it makes a great place for both long and short stays. Photos of Whitby can be found in my post from Monday April 25th 2011.