A College Trip to Whitby

First year student Dan Bavister recounts the recent day trip to the North Yorkshire coastal town.

On Saturday the 4th of March, with Epiphany term approaching its conclusion, St John’s College generously organised a trip to Whitby, provided at no cost to participants, in order to explore one of the North East’s most iconic treasures. About 50 Johnians, including students, staff and College Mentors made the trip to the world-renowned North Yorkshire seaside town, famed for being the backdrop to Bram Stoker’s 19th-century horror novel, Dracula, which popularised the vampire genre.

It is easy to tell, from the looming spires of the decayed Whitby Abbey peering over the North Sea from its lofty perch atop the East Cliff, to the winding, cobbled streets and Gothic architecture, that this town could be the sight of inspiration for such a book. However, Whitby is also a thriving coastal resort town and, while lashed by bracing winds and chill, blasting seas, there are many a charming Fish and Chip shop, lively bars and cafés, and buzzing arcades and promenades. This is the dichotomy of Whitby: at once a Gothic North Yorkshire marvel, steeped in legends of the macabre, while also being a quaint, distinctly English seaside town.

The first adventure, after a lunch of delicious Fish and Chips, was to explore Whitby Abbey, located nearly two hundred steps up above the town. Having reached the summit, we explored the stunning medieval structure, with its crumbling stonework and evocative, wholly Gothic atmosphere. Whitby Abbey explored, and many a stunning photograph taken, we visited the Gift Shop, with its array of local ciders, spirits and wines, along with replicas of medieval artefacts and other mementos.

We then walked along a clifftop path that overlooked the shimmering seas and blissful bay, and we could see the white-capped waves crashing on the shore. In the distance, small ships sailed, draped in sunlight and rocked by the shifting seas. On the cliff path we passed flocks of adorable, fluffy sheep, while hosts of birds circled overhead.

Next, we explored central Whitby, with its labyrinthine streets lined with pubs, shops and market stalls. Some friends purchased lovely clothes and keepsakes from the local vendors, with us all enchanted by the wide array of goods, from arts and crafts materials, to porcelain cups and bowls, to sweets, scones and pastries, and locally-caught sea food. Drinks at a delightful café rounded off a marvellous day, after which we set off back to be picked up by the coach.

Leaving Whitby, there was a general sense of tremendous satisfaction with our day’s adventures. Many had enjoyed lunch at local restaurants, pubs and Fish and Chip shops, others had wondered at the views from and of the historic Abbey, and a few particularly brave students had gone swimming in the bracing North Yorkshire sea.

With everyone having boarded the coach, we began our return journey to Durham, and while the chilly air and much walking and exploring the winding stairs and bustling streets had left its mark, with many of us looking forward to a rest and perhaps a warm drink back at College, it is safe to say that there was not a Johnian among us who had not had a thoroughly enjoyable – and, one may add, enlightening – day out in Whitby.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s