Gothic in One

15th May, 2015 | Article By Lesley Tan

Whitby, in the Borough of Scarborough, Yorkshire, is somewhere I had visited when I was very young, and although I remembered having being there, and seen one or two photos, it was certainly not what I remembered when I revisited with my son.

We have very good friends who live there and rent out a cottage right next door to their own, these cottages have been lovingly restored from an old mill with a great history. Our friends, Marise and Gary Willoughby are Goths, and they embrace the ‘Dracula’ theme with passion. I had not seen my friends for a good few years since they visited Malaysia where I live now, so my son, who has always been enthralled with the ‘Dracula’ story, was very excited when I suggested a visit to Whitby to stay with them.

Whitby, situated on the mouth of the River Esk, is a haven for Goths, you will see them everywhere, there are many specialist shops too, selling Gothic outfits, jewellery, ornaments, paintings, furniture and bric-a-brac.

Our friends met us at the Whitby Train Station (we had changed trains at Middlesborough) and took us around the lower part of the town near the entrance to the River Esk, which is sheltered by the Grade II listed East and West Piers, where Count Dracula was reputedly supposed to have first entered the town (in a coffin). There is a spectacular view of Whitby Abbey and the East Cliff!

Our first stop was The Dracula Experience – a unique tour through the Dracula story and the connection with Whitby – loads of great fun in there!

We stopped to have a yummy fish and chip lunch in one of Whitby’s finest pubs, Duke Of York on East Cliff. It was very good and packed out. We also stopped at a quaint old alley way called Arguments Yard. You can walk down many of these alleys and take in the spectacular views of Whitby below. There are many lovely properties dotted around the cliff – what a wonderful way to wake up in the mornings with views like those!

Next my son and I climbed the steps to the top of the East Cliff where the ruins of Whitby Abbey are situated. The views of Whitby from there are fabulous. Marise and Gary drove up and met us at the top. Next they drove us around town in their open-top car and showed us more of the great sights, shops, themed B & Bs and the famous Whale Bone Arch – the photo opportunities are endless. We stopped for a while and had some ice-cream while soaking up the great views of the harbour from the other side of the Abbey, the West Cliff, which is near the Whale Bone Arch.

We also visited the outside of the house where Bram Stoker, the author of ‘Dracula’, wrote some of his work. There is a very imposing monument to Captain Cook here, it is interesting to see that the seagulls favour sitting on Capatain Cook’s head! There is also a very special memorial to a young Gothic girl who was murdered just for being a Goth.

On the way to Marise and Gary’s cottage we stopped in at a popular watering-hole along the way, a nice olde worlde country pub called the Hare and Hounds.  That evening we were treated to a great get-together with some of Marise and Gary’s friends. Their home is full of amazing Gothic, Whitby and Dracula memorabilia, every time you move your eyes you see something else – quite fascinating.

The next day we visited Robin Hood’s Bay, at the bottom of a very steep hill! Well worth the stroll down though, as this small, historic fishing  village is filled with lots of shops, tea rooms, interesting people and more great views.  At the bottom of the bay we took a look around the beach and enjoyed a very delicious Cream Tea. Then…the walk back up!!! Well, we did it, with a few pit stops along the way.

We are planning another trip back this year. We would like to explore the Abbey and see more of the town, and of course see our great friends.

Of course YOU could stay in their Cottage – The Old Mill – if you wanted to visit Whitby, it is well worth the experience, we certainly enjoyed it.

By Lesley Tan

Lesley Tan
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