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Whitby: Steam and Surf

On the Rails

Train arrives at Levisham
The Train Arrives

So here we are on a steam train on a wet and dismal day. Somehow the hiss of the steam, the rhythmic pulsing of the pistons, and the reassuring rumble as we travel along the track all make it worthwhile. It took us nearly an hour and a half to travel from Wetherby to Levisham Station, not our original planned start thanks to the joys of the traffic on the A64, but now we're on our way to Whitby for fish and chips! To steel ourselves as we travel along, we are supping hot mugs of tea and a slice of best chocolate tiffin from the very friendly teashop at the station!

The trip on the train was great, even with visibility being somewhat limited. We arrived in Whitby pretty much on time. It's a place that we've never visited before. I've got to admit that my first reaction wasn't especially good, as the station deposits you amongst some classic seaside town shops and arcades and a cold and wet October afternoon is never the best time to see such places. Actually, I'm not certain what the best time is, but I digress. Looking out across the road, we saw the CAMRA listed pub (oh, so tempting) and the Abbey looming above the River Esk.

A brief stop in the Tourist Information, and we discovered where the steam bus, Elizabeth, went from for a tour of the town. We started down the road in a bitter wind and fine cold rain, stopping for a detour into an outdoor shop where I bought some gloves. The shop assistant spotted that I wanted them straight away, commenting that "I wasn't the first today and wouldn't be the last". We stopped at the Lifeboat Museum, and I acquired an identical lifeboat for Nathan to the one that has had failed electronics from being repeatedly and deeply immersed in the bath. "Look, Daddy has fixed it."

Whitby Harbour
Not the calmest of days

We had lunch overlooking the harbour entrance in a fish and chips restaurant, which had a great view. It was a bit more expensive than the Wetherby Whaler, but very welcome as a respite from the weather, and Nathan did a great job at charming the waitress. Stomachs full, warmed up, we were steeled to head back out. The weather had died down, but we were disappointed to find that the steam bus wasn't running. So instead, we cross the river to the south bank and started to explore the Shambles area.

Spider Web Tea “Rooms /></a><br /><span style=My, that’s a big spider!

Shopping in Whitby
Happy Shoppers

This completely changed my impression of Whitby; I really liked this bit, much more than the amusement arcades. We liberated some fudge, and admired the Halloween decorations that were going up in advance of the big Goth Weekend next week. These went so far as a spider web over the whole of building with a Tea Room in, and many swinging pumpkins with carved faces.

Whitby Pumpkin Street Decoration
Pumpkin - What would Britain in Bloom make of this basket?

We decided against visiting the Abbey, as we had less than an hour and both Jill and Nathan were struggling. I didn't really fancy a repeat of Maiden Castle, where I raced up the hill to take pictures while everyone waited for me.

Bad English
Amusing Sign

I was greatly amused by the lack of the word 'or' in a safety sign for a jet boat in the harbour as we walked back to the station. Unfortunately, the weather started to close in again, so we took refuge with a great cup of tea in Al's Cafe opposite the station. The owner was about to close up, but took pity on us, which was greatly appreciated.

Whitby Outer Harbour
Looking out during the break in the weather.

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway steam engine was on time, and we settled into our seats, only to find out that the station that we were getting back off at had a platform that was too short for the carriage we were on. We'd gone all the way up to the engine so Nathan could hear better, so had to swap carriages half way back. There was a little bit of a drama as the engine needed to refill its water and the tower it planned to use hadn't enough, so we ended up slightly late. However, it was no worse than Network Rail!

Nathan crashed out on the way back home, but we topped off the day with a picnic in the lounge for dinner. All in all, a great family day! Sadly, I have to report that I saw no Goths or Vampires, even as dusk fell. However, I do still remember the church that loomed over the town (rather than the Abbey), looking all Lovecraftian.

Lovecraftian Church at Whitby
Lovecraftian view...