Whitby Wonders: Exploring the Charms of England’s Coastal Gem

The seaside is, quite simply, a glorious place to be. There is little in life that can’t be solved by a stroll down the beach and a deep breath of beautiful sea air. It has been proven that proximity to bodies of water can help greatly with our health, both physically and mentally – only adding more fuel to the fire that a day by the sea is something we all need at some point this year.

Of the many places you could travel for this kind of experience, there are few better than Whitby. When travel to Whitby can be as simple as taking the train, there is little argument against taking the opportunity to spend a day or two in one of the most charming harbour towns in coastal England. But where exactly should you be placing your time on such a joyous day out?

Whitby Abbey

The major draw that brings thousands to Whitby each year is, of course, the imposing edificial form of Whitby Abbey. The Abbey stands precipitously at a cliff’s edge, with 199 steps between it and the town below – but those stunning cliff views are not all that bring people to climb them. There is a telling clue in the name for the Abbey’s quintessential architecture…

Whitby is famed for its Gothic contingent – both in terms of its buildings and its subcultures. Each year, goths of all ages flock to the town for a festival of their own making. But why has Whitby become a home-from-home for goth aficionados? The severe coastline, the Abbey, and indeed the sleepy coastal town in its shadow below were all inspirations for one of the most influential pieces of gothic literature in history: Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Whether you are a goth horror fan or a lover of abbey ruins, Whitby Abbey is an unavoidable stop.

The Beach

Whitby’s beach is at least as beautiful as any other resort town beach you’ve visited, and benefits from being much quieter than most to boot. There is also an especially charming arcade that overlooks the beach from the promenade, allowing you to alternatively lose your 2ps to a one-armed bandit and lose your chips to a bold seagull…

Captain Cook

Finally, it would be impossible to discuss Whitby without discussing another aspect of its storied history – an aspect much more couched in reality, too, than the runaway popularity of Stoker’s Dracula. We are, of course, acknowledging Whitby as the proving ground and one-time home of Captain Cook – a famed and revered cartographer who mapped the coast of New Zealand and made (alleged) first contact with the Aboriginal Australians of Australia’s east coast.

The Captain Cook Memorial Museum was founded in the Whitby home of the Walkers, merchant ship-owners who gave Cook his first taste of maritime life. The museum is a fascinating afternoon in and of itself but by no means the only homage to this true-to-life adventurer. Indeed, a full day could be made of your voyage through Whitby’s streets as you spot statues, busts, plaques and displays given to the architect of modern cartographical science.