Seeing an opportunity for some solo travel (for practice) and to give our gracious hosts a break, we jumped on the bus to Whitby yesterday.
Whitby is absolutely chock-full of interesting history. It’s another sea-side town, but it’s off the charts compared to Scarborough. The East cliff is home to the ruins of Whitby Abbey, where Caedmon, the earliest recognized English poet, lived.
Now we must honor the guardian of heaven,
The might of the architect,
and his purpose,
the work of the father of glory as he, the eternal lord,
established the beginning of wonders;
he first created for the children of men heaven as a roof,
the holy creator
Then the guardian of mankind, the eternal lord,
afterward appointed the middle earth,
the lands for men, the Lord almighty
Caedmon’s Hymm, Caedmon 680
Whiby is twinned with Anchorage, Alaska, who gifted the town with a whale bone (see above.)
Bram Stoker’s Dracula was set in Whitby, Dracula was shipped to the Abbey in his pine box. Bram Stoker also found the name “dracula” at the old public library, Bram Stoker’s Notes for Dracula by Robert Eighteen-Bisang & Elizabeth Miller (Mc Farland, 2008).
Whitby’s fishing port started in the middle ages, and just up the road at Staithes, Caption Cook learned to sail.
We landed it town around 1pm and immediately headed to find some fish and chips, in honor of Hayden Honeycutt. Along the way, there were people fishing for crabs off the main walk, rock shops, and a lot of screaming gulls. We were warned not to eat our fish and chips outside, as the gulls would attack, so we settled on The Pier Inn. John has instituted a trip rule which involves eating whatever the locals are eating, so he even tried the mushy peas.
We attempted to walk off lunch and headed along the main road to the harbor, dodging gulls as we went. I must say, they are bloody huge…also, they are so clean! Usually, gulls are a bit grubby, but these ones looks like they just came out of the wash.
We walked down to the pier and got blown about by the wind. There are three things about the English that will never change. 1) They know how to queue 2) They never do things the easy way and 3) They are determined to have a good time, when a good time has been scheduled, no matter the condition. Case in point, it’s never too cold or windy for the English to enjoy some ice cream. We were using every muscle in our feet to cling onto the pier, but we were surrounded by people who were grimacing against the wind and desperately enjoying their vanilla cones and flakes. Looking onto the sand, there were families building sandcastles, teeth gritted against the wind, frantically enjoying their day at the seaside. There was a boat trip in progress, breaking through 5 foot waves, and this boat was swaying and rocking with the chop.
I can just imagine the passengers on board, shouting over the spray, “Isn’t this lovely, Charles?” *puke* “A bit brisk, Deborah. Nice and refreshing!” *thrown overboard*
I know when I’ve been beaten, so we buggered off the pier in search for a shop to buy a hat and gloves.
It was time to leave the crowds behind, so we climbed all 199 steps up to the Abbey to begin a walk along the cliffs. You have have to pay to get into the Abbey grounds now, which we declined, but it’s still free to hold your camera over the wall and take some pictures.
We struck out on a public footpath to Saltwick Bay, which is about 1.5 miles away from the Abbey. The landscape is breathtaking. Rolling hills, jagged cliffs, the ruins of the abbey in the distance.
Saltwick bay was deserted and rugged.
It is also prime real estate for finding fossils. We spent about 45 minutes cracking open chunks of slate, which was a lot of fun. I found a small ammonite.
As the tide was turning, John picked up a large chunk of slate and launched it at a rock on the shore. It cracked open, directly down the middle, exposing a beautiful ammonite the size of a fist.
Louise has a theory that the more fresh air you get in a day, the more knackered you are. I think she’s right, especially in John’s case, as he was snoring all the way home on the bus.
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