I’ve always had a soft spot for Whitby. Even the trip to get there from my childhood home takes you across the North York Moors and if you are lucky enough to go in summer, chances are the heather will be in full bloom from horizon to horizon. This time, however, we just had the bitter winter wind. Not that this was a bad thing at that moment… it made the climb up the 199 worn sandstone steps less of a warming experience. In summer it is hot work. Like all such things, there is the tradition that you cannot count them. I, at least, have never managed it… I get distracted.
From here there are wonderful views over the little town and its harbour. Whitby still depends on the sea for most of its income, though the whaling and herring fishing has long since declined to be largely replaced with tourism and the manufacture of jet jewellery… and fossils of course. There are so many to pick up on the beaches here, released by the constant erosion of the cliffs.
As we climbed up to the church and saw the disappearing cliff face over the town, I recalled that it is not only fossils that the wind and rain releases. That cliff face has eroded by a good distance since I was a child and human bones from the graveyard have been sent into the streets below by the landslips that have placed homes beneath the cliff at significant risk. If that sounds like something from a horror movie there is reason for that too… Bram Stoker set much of his book Dracula against the stark silhouette of the Abbey and church atop the cliff.
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