THERE is no better place to blow away the cobwebs than Whitby.

It may be bitingly cold at times, but wrap up warm and you will be well-rewarded.

A walk along the town’s West Pier, beyond its lighthouse, will energise you, and offers a different perspective of the former whaling port - one that would be seen by arriving ships.

In 1753 the first whaling ship set sail from Whitby to Greenland. The most successful year was 1814 when eight ships caught 172 whales.

A permanent reminder of those whaling days, a whale’s jaw bones stands on Whitby’s West Cliff. The giant arch frames a view of the town’s higgledy-piggledy streets as well as the famous 199 steps - which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula - leading up ruins of the medieval Whitby Abbey on the East Cliff.

It is believed that whalebones first appeared on the West Cliff in the 19th century. On the present site a 20-foot pair of jaw bones from a 113-ton Fin whale were erected after local engineer and surveyor Graham Leach organised a competition among Norwegian whaling skippers to provide a pair of whale jawbones. These in turn were replaced in 2003 by the present-day bones, which came from a Bowhead whale legally hunted by native Alaskan Inuits.

The original bone, which bizarrely were put up for auction on eBay in 2012, are now in storage at a nearby hotel, which bought them.

Also on the cliff top, stands a statue of the explorer Captain Cook, who learned seamanship as an apprentice here in Whitby.

Well-known landmarks aside, Whitby has plenty of lesser-known attractions. It’s famous yards offer a glimpse back in time. These cheek-by-jowl homes set around a small yard have not changed for centuries. With wonderfully evocative names such as Arguments Yard, Bakehouse Yard and Kiln Yard, they are fascinating places. Some yards are open to the public, some are not.

Life in the yards and surrounding alleyways and ‘ghaunts’ was captured and preserved by Whitby’s well-known Victorian photographer and chronicler of life in the town, Frank Meadow Sutcliffe a gallery of whose work, in Flowergate, is well worth a visit.

For cat lovers, a quirky point of interest, at Whitby railway station - the terminus of the Esk Valley line and North York Moors Railway - is a memorial to a former station cat, Arthur, whose gravestone bears the inscription ‘Morte D’Arthur after the 15th century book by Thomas Mallory. A plaque was recently unvelied by Whitby Civic Society.

Linking the upper and lower harbour areas and the east and west sides of the town, Whitby Swing Bridge is itself an attraction. Spanning 75ft, each section can be operated independently, swinging horizontally.

Once on the east side of the town a walk along cobbled Church Street to the 199 steps takes you past shops selling everything from paintings to books, ceramics, clothing and confectionery. Jewellery handcrafted from the fossilised wood remains known as Whitby jet can also be found.

At the top of the steps, at St Mary’s Church harbours another interesting, moving memorial, which my mum reads on almost every visit to Whitby. It bears the inscription:’Here lies the bodies of Francis Huntrodds and his wife Mary who were both born on the same day of the week month and year September ye 19th 1600 married on the day of their birth and after having had 12 children born to them died aged 80 years on the same day of the year they were born ye September 19th 1680 the one not above five hours before ye other.’

For fish and chips visitors are spoiled for choice, but for a cuppa and a piece of cake, check out the Whitby Mission and Seafarers Centre in Haggersgate where there’s a wonderful mural of the harbour.

As Whitby becomes busier, finding streets with no parking fees in the high season is a challenge. From March 30 to November 4, an affordable park and ride scheme runs to the town centre, taking the stress and expense out of parking.

*Whitby is two hours drive from Bradford; it is also accessible by train from Pickering via the scenic North York Moors Railway, and from Leeds on the Coastliner bus service. Visit

*Whitby park and ride is located at the A171/B1460 junction north of the town. If using a sat nav, follow the postcode YO21 1TL.