Just over four years ago, Adam and I were married in an understated City Hall ceremony for two. Since then, we agreed that we’d always try and celebrate our wedding anniversary with a trip away. Last year, we spent a brilliant few days in Krakow, Poland. Given that 2020 brought along such an unexpected shitshow, local lockdown and quarantine restrictions meant that our traditional annual getaway would have to be much closer to home this time.
We hadn’t been anywhere overnight since that weekend break in Poland and for me, cabin fever had long set in. I was giddy at the idea of being allowed a snippet of freedom so I scoured the internet to see what our options were. Whitby, North Yorkshire, isn’t somewhere that I was familiar with but it kept popping up. My dad, who is a big fan of all things spooky and steampunk, often talks about the Dracula / Bram Stoker inspiration and famous Whitby Goth Weekend, and I’d seen gorgeous pictures of the harbour on my friends Instagram feeds. Being just two and a half hours from home, we decided it was worth a punt.
Back in October, I booked a hotel in the remote village of Ruswarp, which Trip Advisor advised was a 30-minute walk from Whitby, and we packed our bags (mine mostly contained Cadburys Chocolate Orange Buttons and books tbh). Once we’d checked in, we found the dedicated footpath and headed into Whitby for lunch. The walk, known locally as ‘Monks Trod’, was a treat, with railway tracks on one side and the River Esk on the other, finishing up at Whitby Marina.
It’s practically the law to have fish and chips when you visit a British seaside town so we sat in a small cafe overlooking the shoreline for food and afterwards, enjoyed a pot of tea between us, setting the tone for our clearly hedonistic and exotic (!) weekend. We crossed the swing bridge and wandered about to get our bearings. Soon, we uncovered the most charming, postcard-esque views of the Whitby Abbey ruins on the cliffside near the Captain James Cook monument and iconic whalebone arch.
The town is steeped in rich maritime history and we thought it was fitting to join a short boat tour. What I didn’t factor in was the raging wind and our gentle ride became a potentially perilous venture into the North Sea. The nose of our boat repeatedly slapped down violently against the waves as we picked up speed, and it was at that point I made a mental note to finally book myself onto swimming lessons.
After a pitstop for coffee and cake, we browsed Whitby Jet jewellers and sweet shops on the winding cobbled streets and found ourselves unexpectedly at the foot of the famous 199 steps. It was a wet Saturday afternoon and packed with fellow tourists so instead, we agreed to come back early another day to tackle them and see the Whitby Abbey ruins that sit on the top of the cliff above.
Seeking shelter in the arcades, we spent an hour smashing through the 2p machines and teddy grabbers, coming away with a handful of keyring-shaped treasures. The rest of the weekend was spent dodging seagulls – a well-known menace of the town apparently, with Scarborough Borough Council even having an urban gull incident reporting form that locals use to report any shady shenanigans – and eating lovely food while mooching around the many vintage and antique shops.
On our last day, the weather was particularly grim so we made the reluctant decision to head home straight after breakfast. I do regret missing the chance to walk the 199 steps, see Whitby Abbey ruins close up and hunt for fossils on the beach, not to mention sampling a local delicacy, the lemon top ice cream, but we will be back next year to finish exploring properly.