A Haunting Day in Whitby

By Morgan Halane

Last weekend I took my first trip to the eastern coast of England to the town of Whitby.  Whitby is perhaps most famously known as one of the homes of Captain Cook as well as a setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Because of its association with vampires, we were told that Whitby would be a great place to visit around Halloween.  I went on a bus along with several other Lancaster University students, some of which dressed in very interesting and unique costumes.  I hadn’t thought of wearing a costume, so I went casually dressed.  Our first stop in Whitby was at a market selling all sorts of Gothic clothing and accessories.  Many people at the market wore costumes, and there seemed to be an equal mix of people dressed in Gothic and steampunk attire.  It was definitely an interesting mix of costumes.

A view of Whitby Abbey from the cemetery

After exploring the market we headed to the town center.  We walked along one of the piers toward a stunning lighthouse, overlooking the sea.  It was very cold, but the view was something that has definitely stuck with me.  After walking along the pier we decided to head up to a hauntingly beautiful building, Whitby Abbey.  In order to get up to the abbey we had to climb a long series of steps known as the 199 steps.  I was racing up the steps pretty fast and had to catch my breath at the top, but what awaited us at the top was a cemetery.  The tombstones were absolutely huge and very old.  Just like the abbey beside it, the cemetery had a haunting beauty.  We spent a lot of time just walking through the graveyard, attempting to make out the faded words on the tombstones.  Our hunger drew us away from the abbey and cemetery, and we descended the 199 steps and went back into the town proper.

Whitby at night

We were informed that many people consider Whitby to have the best fish and chips in Britain, so we decided to try some for lunch.  I was extremely underwhelmed with my earlier fish and chips experience at Lancaster, but the fish and chips I had in Whitby were excellent.  It tasted, in my opinion, exactly how fish and chips should taste.  After eating we boarded a boat which took us out into the North Sea.  Out on the water we were all freezing, but the views of the coast were stunning.   The sheer cliffs seemed to descend right into the sea.  After docking back on shore we continued walking around the town, exploring the shops and just soaking in the general atmosphere.  The entire town definitely had a Halloween spirit, and nearly all of the shops had jack-o’-lanterns in their windows.  All of the costumed visitors definitely added to the spooky atmosphere.  Eventually, as darkness descended over Whitby, we headed back to our bus.  It was raining as we prepared to depart Whitby, but our guide left us with a chilling detail.  He asked if we’d seen the cliffs while riding on the boat.  After responding, he informed us that some of the cliffs are eroding, causing graves to fall into the sea.  He asked us whether we saw the skeleton arms poking from the sides of the cliff.  He sounded like he was telling the truth, but in my mind I like to think he was joking.

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