YorkshireNet Guide to Whitby

Ancient fishing port and resort set on the North Yorkshire Heritage Coast


One of the most picturesque ports in England, Whitby and its harbour are set in a ravine at the mouth of the River Esk. Dominated by the clifftop ruined Abbey, the narrow alleys and quaint streets climb down to the busy quayside, with its harbourside houses and small shops filled with crafts, curios, and antiques.

From these centuries old streets, 199 steps lead up to the parish Church of St Mary, one of the finest Anglo Saxon churches in the country, featuring carved pews made by ship’s carpenters and craftsmen from Whitby’s once booming whaling fleet.

Its churchyard is famous for providing the setting which inspired Bram Stoker to write his classic novel - Dracula. Dickens and Tennyson are also known to have enjoyed the hospitality of Whitby’s ancient inns.

Inside the Whitby Museum discover the life story of the town’s most famous inhabitant, Captain James Cook, who sailed from the port to change the history of the world. The Captain Cook Memorial Museum, his former home in Grape Lane, is furnished in the style of his times, when Whitby was the seventh-largest port in England. As famous locally are the whaling masters of the Scoresby family, and pioneer photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe.

Whitby is well known for its jet, a hard black mineral dug from its cliffs since Victorian times, and fashioned locally into jewellery and ornament. Its famous Smokehouse still operates, converting herrings to kippers by the traditional process.

A bustling and colourful working port, Whitby offers fishing trips by boat or from the pier.

Its Regatta in mid-August and a week-long Captain Cook Festival in October reflect the seafaring traditions. The Whitby Festival is held around mid-June.

Inland from Whitby, the North York Moors National Park is a quiet, unspoilt upland area perfect for walking or touring. Goathland, with its ‘Heartbeat’ connections, is within easy reach, as is Grosmont, where the spectacular North York Moors Steam Railway meets the Esk Valley line. Peaceful moorland and gentle valleys with pretty villages, castles and abbeys in abundance, lead to expanses of glorious countryside associated with James Herriot.

Along the coast, the Captain Cook Heritage Trail leads from Great Ayton, where he lived, to his departure port of Whitby. Staithes and Runswick Bay are quaint and picturesque fishing villages. South of Whitby is Robin Hood’s Bay, and beyond, the Victorian splendour of Scarborough.

Whitby Abbey Whitby's Lifeboat returning to port Lighthouses at the entrance to Whitby Harbour

    Agricultural Shows

  • Egton, near Whitby Agricultural Show

    Egton Show, on the Yorkshire Coast, is one of the largest village shows in the country. Come and celebrate country pursuits from wrought iron and farrier displays to goat, ferret, bee keeping, produce and handicraft and the children's sections. Held every year at the end of August.

    Egton, near Whitby Agricultural Show Website Map Where to Stay
  • Farndale Show

    Enjoy the Farndale Agricultural Show in the North York Moors National Park near Rosedale Abbey and within an hour's drive from Whitby. Find special attractions, such as dog displays and flying shows and demonstrations, such as sheep shearing and wool spinning. Held annually on August Bank holiday.

    Farndale Show Website Map Where to Stay

    Castles, Gardens and Stately Homes

  • Falling Foss Tea Garden and Waterfall

    Take a picturesque walk through a woodland tea garden, set in the grounds of Midge Hall, a tiny cottage at the top of 30 foot Falling Foss Waterfall in Whitby, North York Moors. Open from the Easter holidays to the end of September. Perfect place to relax and unwind and enjoy light refreshment.

    Falling Foss Tea Garden and Waterfall   Website Map Where to Stay
  • Pannett Park

    This beautiful public gardens with a local history museum and elegant sunken pool and themed gardens. Situated very near the centre of Whitby, the park offers a haven of peace and quiet. The Heritage Lottery Fund & Big Lottery Fund Park for People Programme have regenerated Pannett Park.Open all year round, no entry fee.

    Pannett Park Website Map Where to Stay
  • Whitby Abbey

    Whitby Abbey is a Benedictine Abbey which was previously a 7th Century Christian monastery. This English Heritage site hosts a Mansion Visitor Centre and holds various interesting events. They Abbey church overlooks the North Sea on the East Cliff above Whitby. Grounds and museum closed until April 2019 for improvements - then 10am - 6pm.

    Whitby Abbey Website Map Where to Stay


  • Captain Cook Memorial Museum

    Winner of the Gold Award 2013 for the best small visitor attraction in Visit England's Awards, this 17th Century house belonged to Cook's master, John Walker, and is where the young Cook and his fellow apprentices lodged. The house is now a museum celebrating Cook's years in Whitby and later career.

    Captain Cook Memorial Museum Website Map Where to Stay
  • RNLI Whitby Museum

    Lifeboat museum with models, relics and a gift shop. This Victorian double boathouse celebrates Whitby's lifeboat history. Admission is free to public or pre-book for groups. Check website for opening times.

    RNLI Whitby Museum Website Map Where to Stay
  • Robin Hood's Bay + Fylingdales Museum

    This museum, solely run by volunteers, houses fascinating collections and displays from the local area of Whitby. Admission is free (donations welcome) Open from February to September, check website for opening times.

    Robin Hood's Bay + Fylingdales Museum Website Map Where to Stay
  • Whitby Museum

    Their independent Victorian museum has local fossils, natural history, model ships, carved jet, toys, costumes and social history. Situated in the beautiful gardens of Pannett Park. Open 9.30am – 4.30pm except Mondays (but open Bank Holidays)

    Whitby Museum Website Map Where to Stay

    Visitor Farms, Wildlife, Walks and Trails

  • Pannett Park

    In the centre of Whitby, this beautifully maintained park has a sunken pond and themed gardens. There has been regeneration to Pannett Park through Lottery funds, creating a fun, family friendly place for all ages. The Friends of Pannett Park hold regular events and activities.

    Pannett Park Website Map Where to Stay
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