Chips in Whitby

Up at 7:15 and off on a walk by 8 as the sun struggled to appear above the horizon. Actually that’s not exactly correct, I didn’t actually see the sun until about 11. Yesterday I picked up a booklet containing some walks around the village and so set off on walk #1 to the hamlet of Ellerburn. The path by the bubbling beck was a bit muddy but most of the walk was along tarmac either roads or paths. Ellerburn, as you reach it, is a farm and a church. That is it. Oh, and a caravan park in the farm which looks a bit grim.

The church of St Hilda is very sweet though very dark. It is squat and looks vaguely Saxon. It was faithfully restored in the early 20th century. St Hilda, by the way, was the saint who rid England of most of its snakes. Using a whip and an obvious dislike for reptiles, she separated their heads from the rest of their bodies and turned them to stone! Nice. But I have to wonder why she didn’t use something like a sword rather than a whip! And how come she didn’t get rid of the wasps as well?

St Hilda's

This church is, apparently, the traditional ‘mother’ church of the district. I’ve never heard this expression but assume it means the earliest. It’s certainly the loneliest. It was saved by Bill and his hordes because of the lack of a village nearby. This is why it’s the oldest! Of course there was a wooden church there first though this may have been a chapel from 660 – 800 AD. Ancient carvings decorate the interior of the church. Some are said to be the snakes that Hilda whooped! The snakes, by the way, the ones she turned into stone, are actually ammonites, fossilised fish from 200 million years ago. Again, for the Believers out there, that will be 4,000 years ago. Some of the carvings are of the stoney snakes or ammonites.


The church we see today was restored in 1904-11 and included a new vestry and the porch which I have to say was restored very well as it looks just as old as the rest of the church. Actually that could be a bit of a backhanded compliment in some ways.

From St Hilda's

As I left St Hilda’s and made my way up the gentle hill, looking out across the valley, everything appeared very peaceful and I realised what a lovely spot this was for a lovely little church. And if I ignored the modern machinery and barbed wire, tarmac road and large speed limit sign, I could almost have been there when old Bill decided not to have it smashed to bits.

The walk was only three miles so I was back at Forge View by 9, ready for breakfast. I spent the next few hours working on my Q&Q report for uni as Mirinda woke up, had breaky and typed up some Gerty notes. Bob & Claire went for a walk, leaving us to study and hard work.

Eventually we loaded ourselves into the car and took off for Whitby. Across the North York Moors National Park, admiring the Hole of Horcum as much as I could through my misted up window. In the manner of rental cars, the back seats are unable to have open windows – oh what we lost when the old window winders were replaced by little electric buttons – so it’s not possible to see the view. Still, in a fuzzy way, it looked quite impressive.

Arriving in Whitby, we parked over by the marina then, leaving Bob & Claire in an OAP tea shop – they didn’t know. We agreed to meet back at the café in an hour and a half.

First stop was the TIC where we found a map of the town, we then walked next door to the Grand Turk. This is a full size, seaworthy version of a British frigate, built by Michael Turk after extensive research into ship building techniques and materials. I thought the name came from the builder but, for some reason, it was built on a beach in Turkey by a bunch of Turks. And the reason he built it? So it could have a leading role in the film Hornblower, appearing as HMS Indefatigable.

Grand Turk

We wandered all over it and I have to say it’s a far cry from the tiny little migrant ship I saw in Ireland with Denise, or the Endeavour at Caloundra. There is a lot of room and it all appears very comfortable. To the point that Mirinda insisted we sell up everything, buy a rigged boat and head for a life on the high seas. The wind and cold managed to convince her this was not a good idea.

Leaving the Turk we headed for the bridge across to the older part of the town where the road heads up towards the Church of St Mary and Whitby Abbey. We HAD to have some chips so we stopped at the first chippie and did! I mean you can’t really go to Whitby and NOT have chips. I had a chip butty.

Further up the hill, Mirinda took a long hard look at the 199 steps leading up the hill and decided she would rather walk to the end of the harbour wall, which she called the Cobb (using her best Austen-speak).

I headed up the steps, buffeted by the gale force winds dodging around the hundreds of tourists until I reached the top. The wind was incredible as I walked towards the cliff edge to snap a picture of Mirinda, tiny down below. I then quickly moved inside the church of St Mary’s.

Blustery winds at St Mary's

What a shame! A lovely church, very old and very interesting but full of Christmas trees. This display is, I assume, to give the tourists something to look at. I guess it’s the problem with having a big hill with a big church on the top. People can’t help but climb up and when they get there what to do? Oh, there’s a church. So, fill it with Christmas trees. Given the foliage and the hordes, I didn’t stay very long, which is a pity.

Parts of the church date back to 1098, it is full of box pews and has an unusual three storey pulpit! In the middle of the church is a coal burning stove which was surrounded by frozen walkers but you can easily imagine the cold sailors, fresh from the docks and icy seas, huddling around it before the priest starts on about ecclesiastic fire and brimstone.

Stepping back outside I headed up to the Abbey. It’s owned and looked after by English Heritage. It looked like a good couple of hours so, rather than rush around it, I headed back down to meet Mirinda. Rather than the steps, I took the Donkey Road down and have to say it was slightly easier.

I met Mirinda and we headed back over to the other half of town, found some headphones and a hair brush then wandered over to the café where Bob was looking for us – we were late.

The trip back across the Moors was quite scary as the wind had picked up but after we dropped the sails, we managed ok. The window had cleared as well so I managed to have a good view of the landscape this time. At one point we drove by the turn off to Goathland. This is where Heartbeat is filmed…apparently.

Back in Thornton-le-Dale, Mirinda and I went into the pub for a few pints of Black Sheep on tap! Well, I did anyway. There was a dog that looked remarkably like an Australian sheep dog but the owner assured Mirinda it was a collie cross (though not sure what it was crossed with). It was very friendly. It made a good friend in Mirinda.

I have to say the people round here are extremely nice. Not what you’d think given the grim opinion expressed down south. Actually whenever I told anyone we were going to Yorkshire they universally asked “why?

I am roasting a local lamb tonight with rosemary potatoes. The kitchen smells delicious as I sit here typing. Damn those lambs!

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