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A fishing port with a Gothic edge, Whitby is a busy tourist hub, but it handles the crowds so well you might not notice (except at dinnertime, when it's hard to get a seat in a restaurant). Set in a ravine at the mouth of the River Esk, Whitby’s narrow streets climb from the curved harbor up cliffs surmounted by the dramatic ruins of a 13th-century abbey. Fine Georgian houses dominate the west side of the river (known as West Cliff), and on the other side of an Edwardian swing bridge are the smaller 17th-century buildings of the old town (known as East Cliff). Here cobbled Church Street is packed in summer with people exploring the shop-lined alleyways.
Whitby came to prominence as a whaling port in the mid-18th century. Whaling brought wealth, and shipbuilding made it famous: Captain James Cook (1728–79), explorer and navigator, sailed on his first ship from Whitby in 1747, and all four of his subsequent discovery vessels were built here. A scaled-down replica of Cook’s ship Endeavour offers tours of the Yorkshire coast.
Whitby at a Glance
Elsewhere in Yorkshire
- Bolton Abbey
- Castle Howard
- Haworth: Heart of Brontë Country
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