There’s just something about a traditional British seaside holiday isn’t there? Although you might be hard pushed to find a line of striped deckchairs and a man with a knotted white handkerchief tied on his head, the British seaside offers a plethora of delights for everyone.
Since I can remember my family has decamped to the golden sands and fish and chip scented air of Whitby in North Yorkshire for a week or two every summer and, I’m happy to say, that in that time very little has changed.
Of course the weather can never be guaranteed, the hopeful stocking-up of ‘3 for 2’ sun creams can be a complete waste of money and you always need to pack a woolly jumper but still…
A picture-postcard pretty fishing town, Whitby Harbour is overlooked on the East Cliff by the Gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey and the ancient church of St. Mary.
Over on the West Cliff a pair of whalebones forms an archway leading to an imposing statue of Captain Cook who trained as a seaman in the town before embarking on his epic voyages around the world.
Whitby is a heavenly place if you love food, from the award-winning Magpie fish and chip shop to the vanilla-scented dens of Justin’s Original Fudge and Toffee shops on the cobbled streets of Church Street. Expect all thoughts of diets, points and restraint to be forgotten.
Standing in the gardens of the newly restored YMCA on West Cliff you might spot plumes of white smoke emerging from the rooftops in the centre of town. Panic not! The North Yorkshire Moors Railway operates steam trains that run from Whitby through the North Yorkshire Moors to the pretty market town of Pickering, passing through Goatland Station – also known as Hogsmeade Station in the film of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
The beach on Whitby’s north harbour runs for nearly three miles down to the beautiful village of Sandsend, where children build sandcastles and launch dinghies onto the freshwater pool on the beach.
This year our trip to Sandsend was quite possibly our most ‘typically British’ yet. As my sister and I queued to get a pile of fresh crab sandwiches from the brilliant Sandside Café an almighty downpour began. Cue an extended family of wet children, grandparents, aunts and uncles huddled under umbrellas and draped in towels, picnic blankets and groundsheets happily munching fresh crab sandwiches. Alan Bennett would be proud!
by Katherine Wildman © 2012
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