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A Whitby Whistle Stop....

 A couple of days at a favourite spot on the Yorkshire coast, with some excellent weather, dramatic views, fascinating harbour, and some wonderful beer and pubs. Welcome to Whitby....


In the crazy year that has been 2020, chances to get away and get out have been disrupted and limited, so when I got the chance to go off for a couple of days the other week, I decided to head over to a place I hadn't visited in ages, Whitby. One of the jewels of the long Yorkshire coastline, it is famous for its Dracula and gothic connections, its Abbey, hosting numerous festivals and events, its busy working harbour, plus all the usual paraphernalia you would associate with a popular seaside resort and tourist destination. Keeping up the jewel theme it even has its own gemstone, the intensely black Whitby Jet, derived from the fossilised remains of ancient trees, found in deposits all along the coast in these parts, and which is fashioned into pieces of jewellery. There is even a Jet Museum in the town.

And within the town's stock of pubs, there are a number of gems too. Not least the tiny Black Horse, dating from 1660, which is situated on one of the narrow streets on the abbey side of the harbour, still sporting the colours of a former Tetley's house, and which in these days of one way systems and checking in you enter via a side entrance down a little alley. Inside are a number of small rooms, with an old bar dating from the late 19th century which has hardly changed over the intervening years. The pub always has hot drinks, tapas, olives, and a range of Yorkshire cheeses on offer, but a more unusual item for these days amongst this extra stuff is the availability of tins of snuff. No doubt any of these would add to the buzz of contented chatter that was wafting through the air. The table service was friendly and efficient. There were 3 beers listed on a chalkboard; I opted for a not-so-local Adnams Southwold Bitter which I rated as an ok 2.5 on the National Beer Scoring System; better was the dark 4.6% Rhatas strong bitter from the formerly local Black Dog Brewery, but which have been brewed under contract by Hambleton for a number of years. It was quite rich with a dry finish and I rated it a NBSS 3.


The Black Horse, Whitby

There are two working breweries in Whitby at the moment, and I tried beers from both of them. I had a pint of Abbey Blonde from Whitby Brewery at the Station Hotel, a popular pub near to the harbour, the marina, and the railway station. I popped in there after dropping my bags off at the Angel, a popular Wetherspoons with 34 bedrooms where I was staying for the night. The Station has several beers on offer, and the Abbey Blonde was a well-balanced, very drinkable golden ale which I rated a NBSS 3.5. The Whitby Brewery itself is situated at the top of the famous 199 Steps (opening picture), opposite the ruins of the famous abbey. The brewery has a taproom which is currently closed due the Covid-19 situation, despite an impressive number of picnic tables outside, but I was able to buy a couple of beers to take away from the on-site shop.

The other brewery in the town is situated behind the Little Angel pub on Flowergate, which leads up from the harbour passing the shop has been home to the gallery of Frank Meadows Sutcliffe, the Leeds-born photographer whose evocative sepia photos of Whitby and the surrounding area captured the atmosphere and sights of Victorian times, although walking past this particular evening it appeared to have closed down. The Little Angel is a no-frills kind of place, a typical town pub which was pretty full and with a friendly atmosphere, certainly the most lively of any of the pubs I went in over the day. The beer I had though, from the Lady Luck Brewery round the back, a Kraken IPA, was an ok NBSS 2.5 but nothing outstanding. The Little Angel is though the only place the brewery's beers are on regular sale.

Not far away is Arch and Abbey, a largish micro pub situated in a former dress shop on Skinner Street, which is just off Flowergate. The atmosphere compared to the Little Angel was very calm, with subdued lighting and a somewhat quirky decor. It was still pretty busy though with most of the tables occupied, mainly by couples. The beer was a most enjoyable Citra from Wensleydale Brewery, which I rated NBSS 3, and after initially feeling a bit ambivalent about the place for no particular reason, I eventually realised it was down to the fact that I was in desperate need for some food!

I retraced my steps down to the harbour and whilst my initial thoughts were to go to the excellent Magpie Cafe, I realised it would probably be pretty busy, and so I went to Trenchers, just around the corner from my hotel, which had been voted Fish & Chip Restaurant of 2019, and where the queue was very short. I soon was in and sat at a table; unlike the cosy kitchen chic of the Magpie this was all bright lights and gleaming mirrors, but I couldn't fault the haddock and chips I had which was absolutely delicious and cooked to perfection.

I was all set to go back to the Station to conclude the day's proceedings, but I decided I would check out The Waiting Room, Whitby's first micropub, based within the railway station buildings. The Good Beer Guide said it was closed on Mondays, but you never know, it might be wrong and anyway in these Covid-ridden times pub hours are all over the place! And when I spotted some lights I realised it was actually open, "I thought you were closed on Mondays?" I said to the lady behind the bar. "No we always open on Mondays, close Tuesdays" came her reply. "Oh, the Beer Guide said you were shut". "We've kept telling them!" "And I'm not complaining!" I said by way of reassurance, as she showed me to a small table by the door. And what a cracking little bar it was. A few people were dotted around the single room, which was decorated with old photographs of Whitby and railway memorabilia. I ordered a Bad Seed Guiding Light, which was an easy drinking American Pale, 3.9% ABV, with the Calypso and Cascade hops giving a good citrus hit, which I rated a solid NBSS 3. The atmosphere was great; relaxed, the hum of conversation punctuated by the odd laugh, with the lady behind the bar doing a sterling job serving and delivering the drinks with - as far as I could tell bearing in mind the mask - a smile. An excellent place which I need to visit again.
The Waiting Room; the train can wait....

I made my way across the road to the Station, where this time I was shown to a table in the main room where Liverpool and Arsenal was showing on the TV. There were a few blokes in watching the match, with the usual kind of comments flying around. The Abbey Blonde didn't disappoint, but last orders were called, and then shortly afterwards the pub staff started to encourage everyone to start drinking up as is the norm in these days of 10.00 curfews. No leisurely drinking up anymore these days, just sup up at haste and everyone spill out on to the streets at the same time. I left a little before 10, and I didn't have far to go: it was only a couple of minutes walk back to the hotel!
Another great pub: The Station Hotel

The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and it was warm when I checked out and took my bag back to the car. Considering it was the end of September it was an amazing day, and after a Spoons breakfast I headed off for a walk around the harbour and back over to the Abbey side where the narrow streets are full of little shops, narrow alleyways such as the delightfully-named Arguments Yard lead off towards the harbour, and further along the cobbled streets there are holiday homes with the standard local issue pantile roof to let such as Fossil Cottage. There is also Fortunes Smokehouse and Shop, where I bought some kippers to take home, and from where plumes of smoke can often be seen wafting out below the cliffside. 
The Endeavour, Whitby

There was one pub in the Good Beer Guide I hadn't visited so far on this trip, although I had been a few years before. This was the Endeavour, just down from the historic 1908 swing bridge which connects the two sides of the harbour and which regularly parts to let boats pass through. The Endeavour is a GBG regular, an imposing brick building which surprisingly only consists of the one room. I popped in just after noon when it opened and there were already a few people scattered around. I went for a half of Mad Goose from Purity, one of the 4 beers available on hand pump, very pleasant and another NBSS 3 by my reckoning. The staff were very welcoming, and the Endeavour is another great pub in a town of great pubs. I drank up my beer and left, and on my way back to the car I passed another little micro pub called The Quirky Den which going by the signs in the window didn't look like it would be open anytime soon due to the current situation. I got back to the car and set off on the drive back home over the North Yorkshire Moors after a most enjoyable whistle stop visit to the Yorkshire coast....


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Comments

  1. Great minds think alike Chris !

    Top weather, haddock and chips at Trenchers, very similar takes on beer quality, absolutely heaving !

    Essential visit.

    ReplyDelete
  2. One of my favorite pub towns. A lot of them have grown on my over time. The Station didn't impress until I returned two or three times. I love it now. When you put the views the town affords on top of the pubs you have a real classic visit...

    ReplyDelete

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