It’s only one county away but the drive from South Lincolnshire to the Yorkshire coast isn’t a particularly direct one. We took the scenic route, via the Lincolnshire Wolds and the North York Moors. It was the end of May but it drizzled most of the way, which rendered the idea of a scenic route somewhat useless. But the weather gods eventually turned up. As we approached Whitby, the clouds kindly parted for us and the sun guided us for the final few miles.
The Butler’s Cottage, Sandsend
As part of our plan to just have short UK breaks this year (so far, Warwickshire and Yorkshire) the Whitby trip was a last-minute booking. We found a gorgeous cottage in the grounds of Raithwaite Hotel. Separate from the hotel and privately owned, The Butler’s Cottage had availability for just the days we were looking at, so we snapped it up pretty quick in one of those ‘it was meant to be’ moments.
The accommodation is actually in the nearby village of Sandsend, just up the coast from Whitby, and a stone’s throw from the beach. With private off-road parking, and being close to the amenities of both the hotel and the village, it proved to be a brilliant choice. A well-appointed two-bedroomed home, with a beautiful garden to boot, it was ideal. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t located in Whitby itself. We were keen to walk each day so any saunter into Whitby could be easily done, along the cliff tops or promenade.
The Fish Cottage
First job – search for a good fish ‘n’ chip shop. We didn’t have far to go to sample the delights of The Fish Cottage, in Sandsend village. A short walk from our cottage, this seafood restaurant was excellent, especially as the warming sun meant that we could sit at the outside tables to enjoy our cod/haddock (can’t remember which!) and chips. Delicious food in a lovely setting.
Back at the cottage, we weren’t ready to settle down for the evening so we walked up to the Raithwaite Hotel for a nosy. We were looking a bit scruffy but no-one seemed to mind as we made our way to the bar for a couple of cocktails. The hotel also has an open-air eatery, The Crab Shack, open on certain days, where, on our last night, we sampled the sizzling thai fish cakes and salt & chilli calamari.
Some Whitby gems
It took us about 40 minutes to walk into the centre of Whitby the following day. Some of the route follows The Cleveland Way. It was a super walk, with the sea on our left and the view of Whitby ahead of us. As we ambled through the town, we noticed how clean it was. Amazing how that can make such a difference – people care about Whitby and it showed.
The walk burned a few calories so we were on the hunt for somewhere to balance this out in the form of scones. Jet Black Jewel in Skinner Street looked like it might do the job rather well. It did. As we supped lattes and scoffed scones, we read the accompanying booklet sharing some of the peculiar stories about Whitby. We hadn’t realised Jet Black Jewel is also a small hotel, with each of the nine guest rooms themed around one of the stories.
We had no particular plan for the day so it was by chance that we found Pannett Park, looking extremely smart in preparation for The Queen’s jubilee celebrations that weekend. Inside we spotted a table set for afternoon tea, except everything had been knitted. How beautifully British is that!
199 steps for a beer
We didn’t count them as we clambered up the steps but it was definitely worth the effort and not just because there was a good drink to be had at the top. Yes, Whitby Brewery was very inviting in the sunshine and the beer was very welcome (pizzas too, if you’re not full of scone).
The steps also lead to St Mary’s Church where, it’s said, you can find the grave of Humpty Dumpty. Now this was of interest to me. You’ll understand why if you’ve read my previous blog post about the link between Cardinal Wolsey and Humpty in Cawood, Yorkshire. The headstone is, indeed, egg-shaped, but whether the rotund fella is actually buried here? Well I think that’s stretching things just a bit. But Whitby is known for its tales and its ghosts so you never know.
Art on Flowergate
Most people take home a fridge magnet or a tea towel as a holiday memento. An oil painting isn’t usually on the shopping list. But when we saw Ady Wright at work in the window of his shop in Flowergate, we couldn’t resist going inside. A few minutes later, we committed to buying the painting he was currently working on. It was a dramatic Turneresque depiction of Whitby, inspired by the late Victorian photographer, Frank Meadows Sutcliffe. We agreed to pick it up in a couple of days.
Go West for pizza
We opted for an early dinner before our return walk to Sandsend. Again, with nothing pre-booked, we spotted a fairly nondescript building on West Cliff, with, to be honest, an unimaginative name. Pizza West. My goodness, we were bowled over when we looked inside: a very stylish restaurant with a central, open kitchen.
We perched ourselves on the bar stools surrounding the cooking area. From our vantage point, we could see the quality of the ingredients and the skill of the chefs. I can highly recommend the pizza with pear, walnuts and honey: nothing unimaginative about that. Divine.
The Ruswarp Round
Plenty of options for Day Two of our short break. We did think about going for a drive but there was still so much of Whitby we hadn’t yet explored. Walking boots back on, we took the lower path to the town and headed for the marina and the start of a trail, The Ruswarp Round. It followed the side of the railway track to the right and the River Esk on the left, soon passing under the majestic Larpool viaduct before reaching the little village of Ruswarp.
The directions indicate how to return on a circular route from here but there’s no mention of what you can enjoy in the village. We followed the river a little further and discovered we could hire rowing boats and kayaks from Ruswarp Pleasure Boats (Easter to the end of September). A few more steps and the delightful Ruswarp Riverside Cafe came into view. What better way to break a long walk with coffee and cake and a view of everyone else paddling by.
We followed the route back to town, detouring a little to walk part of The Cinder Track which runs along the old Scarborough-Whitby railway line. This meant that we could walk on top of the Larpool Viaduct we had hiked under earlier in the day. We had been intrigued by the scaffolding on the viaduct but only now realised it was set up for bungee jumping. We opted for the gentler, if rather less direct route back to the town centre.
A Whitby keepsake
Three nights in The Butler’s Cottage gave us two full days in Whitby. A perfect short break. The drive back to Lincolnshire was made all the more special with the aroma of not-quite-dry paint from our precariously-positioned oil painting on the back seat – now that’s what I call a spectacular souvenir.