Despite being in the midst of a global pandemic, there are still many people looking to get away for a day or two after months of lockdown. COVID-19 may still be looming large over the travel and tourism industry, but it’s fair to say that it hasn’t dampened many people’s appetite for travelling to the coast.
Whitby is still proving to be a travel hotspot, and many visitors have flocked to the harbour town since the government announced the easing of many lockdown measures. Thankfully, despite being only a small town, Whitby is a great destination for those looking to enjoy a safe getaway.
Beaches and Walks
With outdoor attractions to boot, it’s never difficult to stay socially distanced while in Whitby. So, why not head straight for the beach? Be sure to get there early to bag your spot and to enjoy the sun, sea and sand before the crowds gather.
There are two beaches to take your pick from. Whitby Beach stretches out under West Cliff all the way to Sandsend, which makes for a leisurely walk depending on the tides.
As well as the main Whitby Beach, Tate Hill Sands – known as being the beach onto which Dracula’s Demeter of Varna runs aground – on the East side of the harbour is a popular fossil-hunting spot.
For those who want to stretch their legs further, there are many walking routes that run through and around the town. If you want to stay in the town, the Walking in Yorkshire site features plenty of trail ideas, including a short pushchair-friendly one.
The Cinder track is a popular walking route with locals, and runs all the way down to Scarborough, passing through numerous villages including Ravenscar and Robin Hood’s Bay.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the majority of Whitby’s popular attractions are still open to visitors. Possibly the town’s most iconic sight, Whitby Abbey is open to visitors, albeit with some restrictions in place.
Visiting the abbey has the advantage of exploring its outside grounds which, thanks to the restrictions to visitor numbers, should provide ample space for social distancing. Just remember that there’s a one-way system in place to help navigate the grounds and all visitors must book their slot online in advance. The museum exhibition and shop are also accessible to those with a pre-booked ticket.
When hunger strikes, a picnic on the beach would make the perfect lunch. If you’ve had enough of all that sand, another popular picnic Whitby spot is Pannett Park. Just over a 10-minute wander from the beach, this spacious park features a children’s play area, lily pond and Jurassic garden. There are also a number of trails to follow, showcasing the park’s various trees and flora.
Fancy some of Whitby’s famous fish and chips? Thankfully, everyone’s favourite dish when in town is the perfect take away. Find a bench by the bandstand, take your hot newspaper packet to the park, or even find a spot on the beach: when it comes to enjoying takeaway fish and chips, there are plenty of fantastic spots to enjoy them outside.
If you’re strolling down Pier Road to the beach, you’ll pass by many fish-and-chip options, including the takeaway hatch at The Magpie, Whitby’s most celebrated fish restaurant. If you’d rather take your fish up to the park, Royal Fisheries is less than a five-minute walk away.
If you’re still feeling peckish after a large portion of fish and chips, then an ice cream might be the answer. After all, what’s a day at the seaside without a 99?
Just like with fish and chips, there are plenty of shops and stalls where you can find takeaway ice cream. There are many shacks and stands selling ice cream along Pier Road. Trillo’s of Whitby have a large kiosk at the entrance of the pier, so ice cream is within easy reach even once you’re down on the beach.
When’s Best to Visit?
Staying outside and social distancing is one of the best ways to stay safe while visiting Whitby these days, but the popularity of the seaside means that even some of the town’s outdoor spaces can soon become overcrowded. To ensure you put yourself at little risk as possible from the virus, it’s best to plan your visit carefully. Not only will this mean fewer crowds while out and about, but it also means shorter queueing times at the takeaway kiosks!
During school term time, visiting through the week is recommended. If you want to bring the kids, then it’s best to plan for an early start. Not only will you beat the crowds, but you’ll also have less stress with trying to find a parking space.
If the crowds in Whitby do get too much, there are plenty of other pretty coastal spots and villages within easy reach.
The picture-perfect village of Robin Hood’s Bay is a two-hour walk or 15-minute drive away. This old smugglers’ haunt boasts quaint cobbled alleys that are perfect for exploring, and the beach’s rock pools will keep kids entertained for hours when the tide is out.
Just over a five-minute drive from Whitby is the village of Ruswarp, situated right on the River Esk. Ruswarp Pleasure Boats has offered locals and visitors a chance to explore the river since 1874, and is still a very popular stop-off for those on their way to or from Whitby.
Slightly further up the river is the Ruswarp Miniature Railway. Always a hit with kids, the railway also features a cafe on site selling tea and cakes.
If you’ve got a few nights booked in Whitby, a slightly further day-trip destination is Falling Foss. A two-mile circular walk takes you down to the 30-foot waterfall and also passes by a tea garden set in the gardens of Midge Hall.
Staying COVID-safe in Whitby is certainly possible. All it takes is staying outside as much as possible, and trying to visit during off-peak times. Hopefully, this blog post has given you plenty of inspiration for doing just that!