Thursday, December 31, 2009

Whitby Abbey from St Mary's churchyard

Just a few paces on from yesterday's post to show how close the abbey is to the church. Just round the corner of the wall on the left is the famous Huntrodd's memorial plaque. That link is to Don Burluraux's North York Moors Cam site, which I have mentioned before.

The visitor in blue is possibly pointing to one of the few coffin-shaped stone tombs on which are sculpted a skull and crossbones. As far as I'm aware, there is no reliable information about them.  A former colleague used to send insistent tourists in that direction for Dracula's grave; he had grown weary of explaining that it was, after all, only a story.

A few first century visitors to another tomb, in another graveyard, were redirected with these words, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen!" Luke 24. More than only a story according to Cædmon, Hilda and their successors.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

St Mary's Church

Time to get close up to St Mary's Church on the east cliff. There has been a church on the site since the 7th century; this one is a peculiar mixture of styles, and has been enlarged several times over the  centuries. We'll take a look inside one day.

The unused doorway in the centre of the picture is Norman and was uncovered relatively recently. The white-painted wooden porch on the right is a separate entrance for one of the now closed upper galleries.

Cædmon's cross is just out of sight by my left elbow, and the abbey two minutes up the path in the foreground, on the right.

Thursday evening is bell-ringing practice, but for a real musical treat, nothing  beats a holidaying organist. I had this pleasure several times years ago while working here as a church guide. Judith Chalmers and her team also paid us a visit to record a TV holiday programme.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Back yards from a Bakehouse Yard cottage

A northward view of the higgledy-piggledy terraces taken from the back of one of the Bakehouse Yard holiday cottages managed by the Ingrid Flute agency.

Thanks to whoever painted that fence just the right shade of blue; it makes a difference to the scene.

So we've come back along Cliff Street and down the first flight of Bakehouse Yard steps to this cottage, the newer one in a previous photo. Perhaps another surprise view of St Mary's before we get right up close.

Monday, December 28, 2009


The zoomed version of yesterday's picture.

I made a virtual visit to Stavanger yesterday as well one of my frequent calls to Eric Tenin's Paris site. What a lot I have to learn about photography!

For the moment I'm concentrating on composition and using a digital camera bought for us by our children. Despite its relative simplicity, it has given us a great deal of pleasure.

Well, back to this view from Cliff Street over to St Mary's and the east side of town. You can make out some of the 199 steps centre top. In another post I'll talk about the book, "Whitby one nine nine" of which we have a signed copy, received as a gift while we were in France. Some longstanding, loyal friends thought we needed a good dose of Streonshalh (later called Whitby by the Danes)  to make sure we came back one day - and we did!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Vennel or ginnel?

Too much wall? Certainly too much light on St. Mary's on the East Cliff. Well, I like brick, and the picture illustrates the kind of surprise views mentioned in an earlier post.

We've come up Bakehouse Yard onto Cliff Street, which is where we are standing now. The cobbled lane leads directly to the outer harbourside where you can buy seaside tack for the children and seafood for yourselves.

Here comes a fine example of understatement or redundancy - or both: there is a good choice of fish and chip restaurants and takeaways here, including the famous Magpie café and Fusco's on Pier Road.

Right on the harbour front, with views across to the pantile roofs of the East Side, is the Moon and Sixpence. At the bottom of the ginnel (or is it a vennel?) cross to the railings, which should stop you or your children falling into the water - or mud at low tide - and turn right. These websites serve up  a feast for the eyes - the stomach will have to wait; see  especially the Fusco webcam.

We'll descend this way another time; there's time to enjoy some other views along Cliff Street before we eat.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Doves on Caedmon's Cross

Symbols of peace from Cædmon's cross, at the top of the 199 steps, to wish you that very thing, not only during this Christmas season, but always.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bakehouse Yard 3

This is the railing you had to hang on to yesterday, just outside a couple of more recently-built cottages. We are looking up towards Cliff Street, with the abbey behind us to the east.

Visitors often find these directions confusing; it took us a while to get used to thinking in terms of East and West Whitby rather than North and South.

In fact the coast here takes a turn to face more or less north, and this provides June visitors with the opportunity to watch the sun both rise and set over the sea. Set your alarm early if you must! I've often intended to do it but …

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bakehouse Yard 2

Come up the yard from the Haggersgate end and pass number 9 on your left - see yesterday's entry. Make a mental note of the cottages that are up for sale and tell yourself to pick up a property paper before the end of the day.

The cobbles are slippery today, so hang on to the railing as you come up the steps - no-one has been out to remove the ice. Pause at the top of the second flight and turn to take in the scene.

This is what makes Whitby such a delight; the steepness of the valley means that there are frequent surprise views to the other side of town, to St Mary's and the abbey from the west, or to St Hilda's, the whalebone arch or the Cook statue from the east. In addition to these tantalising glimpses over rooftops or through vennels and archways,  panoramic sweeps of harbour, hills, cliffs and beaches  can be enjoyed from unencumbered vantage points such as the 199 steps on the east, and Spion Kop on the west.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bakehouse Yard

This is Bakehouse Yard on the west side of the harbour, but don't go looking for a blue door - it's been repainted since this picture was taken.

Like most of the old Whitby yards, including Blackburn's (see Friday Dec 18th), there is only pedestrian access to the cottages. Imagine negotiating the steps and cobbles laden with a fridge or washing machine during a downpour!

This view is from the bottom looking up towards Cliff Street; Don Burluraux has a shot from the other direction, looking down towards Haggersgate, on his North York Moors Cam site. I was a frequent visitor to his site whilst in France, both for nostalgic reasons, and also to show off the region to our Gallic friends. I'm happy to say that they were always impressed. For an artist's interpretation of the same view, visit Anne Thornhill's site.

Tomorrow I'll post a view of the abbey from the top of this part cobbled, part flagged yard, where most of the dwellings are holiday cottages.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Trawlers in the outer harbour

When we first moved to Whitby in 1986, folk used to tell us of the days when you could cross the inner Esk harbour by jumping from boat to boat. Those were the long-gone days of the Scottish and other herring fleets.

A couple of years ago there were a dozen trawlers here and the port was reviving a little, despite a drop in the value of fish landed. Parkol Marine launched its biggest boat ever and Locker Trawlers were investing in new vessels.

Despite technological advances, deep sea fishing remains a hazardous occupation, so next time you are enjoying your cod and chips, spare a thought for "those in peril on the sea." For various versions of The Navy Hymn, as it is sometimes called, and some notable uses, see here; there is also an audio file of the John Bacchus Dykes tune "Melita", to which it is usually set. The hymn has enormous emotional power, and that, to my mind, is its great weakness; it does not express the call to thankful conversion found in Psalm 107, on which it is partly based.

Above the harbour, on the West Cliff, is the Shearings Royal Hotel. The last time we were referred to as "that young couple" was on a Shearings break to Dunblane in our mid-40s, so the dreaded coach experience had at least that advantage - and the Trossachs were lovely. That reference to our northern neighbour closes the circle. For more on the Scottish and other herring fleets, call in at the Black Horse. For a detailed photographic account of the building of  the Locker trawler, "Our Lass II," visit this Parkol Marine page - fascinating, even for non-technical readers.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Strong knees needed!

If you saw yesterday's entry, you will have come up the steps from Blackburn's Yard and the pottery, taken a few pictures from the terrace overlooking the town, then come to this junction with the Donkey Path.

Ill-fated attempts by daft Donkey Path drivers to descend these cobbles by car show the power that technology too often has over reason. But we can be pretty stupid without the help of gadgets - and yes, my hand's up!

Turn right to climb to St. Mary's Parish Church and the abbey; left takes you down to Church Street. Amble along Henrietta Street first, where Fortune's smoke their kippers, and wander back along Tate Hill Beach. Hopefully you won't have to cope with these conditions, though a winter visit to a spot like this has some appeal.

Some of the famous 199 steps from Church Street to St. Mary's are just visible in this picture, the treader edges protruding over the top of this huge retaining wall, centre top of the picture. We'll climb them another time, perhaps when there's less risk of an accident. Mind how you go in the north of England today!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Saved from demolition

Day three is dedicated to our friend Catherine, from Compiègne, France, whose visit to Whitby this summer helped us re-live our own first encounters with this delightful seaside town 13 years ago.

It is difficult to believe today that this part of Blackburn's Yard was once scheduled for reconstruction, for which read demolition. A change of administration saved this lovely terrace which is now Grade II listed. The award-winning community garden shown here was once the site of other cottages which were beyond repair.

Blackburn's Yard serves as a quiet, though steep, alternative route to and from St. Mary's church and the abbey; Church Street and the 199 steps can be shoulder to shoulder in high season, which is why locals do their shopping early in the morning. The yard route leads to a terrace, giving good views over the town, and then to the steep cobbled path which will appear in tomorrow's entry.

Just out of view in this picture is the working pottery itself; there is usually a pretty display of its wares hanging on the walls and spread over the pavement, providing half the charm of the yard. For more (and better) pictures of the yard, go to:

but be warned, it is a commercial site and you might be tempted to abandon Tenerife in favour of Whitby!

Wash House Pottery was created by Laureen Shaw in 1982 and features on the Brigantia website.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Time and time

I'm dedicating this second entry to last year's 7F (Mrs. Sharp's tutor-group) at Cædmon School, Whitby; they made a six-week stint on supply such fun - some of the time!

Two visions of time: minutes and hours represented by Bagshawe's clock on Flowergate; eternity by the abbey ruins on the east cliff. The fact that the 13th century Benedictine abbey is a ruin does not detract from the long-term vision of its builders, though one might wonder whether that vision was as pure as St. Hilda's in the 7th.

She was a remarkably energetic woman, noted for her wisdom and humility. Her recognition and encouragement of Cædmon's poetic gift bear witness to her egalitarian Christian spirit. That's Cædmon on the left of the page, as represented on the cross at the top of the 199 steps. There is also a transcription of his famous Hymn of Creation, of which there are many translations available on the web.

We found the visitor centre at the abbey much improved on our return to Whitby, and well worth the climb. It is accessible by car, of course. On a completely different note, Woolworths is no more! The store was situated just down the hill from Bagshawe's; it is now an outdoor clothing shop.

Well, time presses …

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Beach huts and pier

Not a very seasonal photograph, but people will soon be booking their holidays. This is Whitby, North Yorkshire, on the north-east coast of England, twinned with Whitby, Ontario, Canada. I hope we attract some transatlantic readers! We didn't make it to Canadian Whitby, or Pickering, or Scarborough while we were in Toronto some years ago; it was too short a stay.

Among the town's famous personalities are Hilda, Caedmon, Captains Cook and Scoresby and Bram Stoker's Dracula of which more at a later date. Lewis Carroll also spent some time here, and, of course, many Heartbeat scenes were filmed in the town. Nearby Goathland, or Adensfield, if you're a fan, is also the location for Harry Potter's Hogsmeade Station.

These huts are dismantled at the end of each season and stored in a tunnel leading to the West Cliff lift shaft. About three years ago they were smashed by extremely high seas shortly after reassembly. If anyone reading can give me a link to a photograph, I'll post it another day. Locals, as well as visitors, hire these huts, sometimes for the entire season.

So, welcome to Day One of WhitbyDailyPhoto, inspired by Eric Tenin's ParisDailyPhoto which I've had on my favourites list for some years.