Whitby is a fishing port and tourist destination in North Yorkshire on the north-east coast of England. At this point the coast curves round, so the town faces more north than east. It sits at the mouth of the River Esk and spreads up the steep sides of the narrow valley carved out by the river's course.
The North York Moors end abruptly and dramatically in the east with one of the finest stretches of 'heritage' coastline in the country. Whitby is undoubtedly one of the most popular holiday resorts in northern England. With its natural charms, the neighbouring hills and moorland and the river Esk that winds its way peacefully to the coast, the town is ideally located. The River Esk divides Whitby into two parts with the old town, a picturesque arrangement of rooftops resting on the east side of the river. It is here that the well-known 199 steps may be found. Locally referred to as the Church Stairs, they lead to the ancient parish church of St Mary which dates from 1110. The building alone speaks much of its history as numerous alterations result in a unique combination of architectural styles. Close to the church, and equally exposed on top of the 200ft cliff, stand the ruins of Whitby Abbey. Founded in 657 by Hilda, the daughter of the king of Northumbria, the abbey flourished until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. The remains are chiefly from the 13th and 14th centuries.
The modern part of Whitby-the new town-is situated on the West Cliff with all the amenities required to make up an active resort. Aside a variety of entertainments and shops lies Whitby's two-mile stretch of sands. Here, sport may be enjoyed alongside boating, fishing and bathing. As a fishing town, Whitby remains dominated by its well-known harbour, where visitors gather to watch the locals at their work. A swing bridge links the two halves of the town so that the 'atmospheric' past is kept distinct from the present. In the spa grounds, overlooking the two stone piers stands a statue erected in memory of Captain Cook, who sailed from Whitby in the locally built 'Resolution'.
Whitby has attracted holidaymakers for hundreds of years, with its ancient history, beautiful scenery and sandy beaches Whitby is an ideal bathing spot.
Whitby harbour is still a busy working environment, with the dredger constantly battling against the silt and mud. A busy fishing fleet and a host of pleasure yachts and craft dominate the upper harbour. There are several vessels which can take you out to sea for a fishing expedition, or simply to enjoy the views of Whitby. Watch the inshore lifeboat crews practice or enjoy the rowing crews training for the annual August Regatta.
The upper harbour is home to the marina yatch births, the busy Parkol ship building works and dry docks. The riverside walk offers interesting views and further up stream the river meanders under the high-level bridge into rural but tidal areas where a host of wildlife thrives.
Entertainment comes in the form of fine restaurants and pubs with many festivals and events including:
- Whitby Regatta: fairs, boats, fireworks, numerous displays including the Red Arrows.
- Gothic Weekend: a festival for the Gothic culture.
- The musicport festival: an annual world music festival.
- Folk Week: around 600 events.