The ancient port is where St Hilda established a monastery in 657AD, and which saw the flowering of the Saxon poet Caedmon, launched the career of Captain Cook and inspired Bram Stoker to write the story of Count Dracula. It has scarcely changed in recent times. The 199 steps from the old town up to St Mary's church, said to date from 1270, are a built-in fitness monitor.
What's to see?
The Abbey; the Captain Cook Memorial Museum (01947 601 900, www.cookmuseumwhitby. co.uk) in a 17th-century house on the harbour where the young mariner lodged; and Whitby's White Rabbit Trail, which follows the path of celebrated visitor, Lewis Carroll.
I've got a sulky teen in tow
Scare them into submission on a ghost walk with the Man in Black aka Heritage Harry (01947 821 734, www.whitbywalks.com). Or make plans for half-term, when Whitby will be staging its biannual Gothic weekend (October 26-27). Fantastically dressed goths arrive in their thousands and the locals turn out to goth watch.
We're quite cultured you know
Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society (established 1823) is one of the few remaining such societies that still runs an independent museum www.whitbymuseum.org.uk. Its exhibits vary from a pirate's pigtail, an excellent collection of jet fossilised monkey puzzle tree and a severed hand with magical powers. There's a tearoom, too. The Pannett Art Gallery, next door, has a fine collection of the Staithes school of artists.
Why go now?
Next weekend (August 11-13) is Whitby Regatta and Carnival. Starting the following weekend (August 18-24), listen up to Whitby Folk Week (www.whitbyfolk. co.uk). On Bank Holiday weekend (August 25-27), the Abbey (01947 603 568, www.english-heritage.org.uk) will be overrun by buccaneers and highwaymen, with lots of children's activities for the Pirates of Land and Sea event.
Stay another day
On the clifftop, next to the Abbey ruins, the new youth hostel (0870 770 6088, www.yha.org.uk), parts of which date back to the 12th century, opened in March. With many, mostly en-suite, family rooms, and facilities including a restaurant, bar and tea rooms, it is quite booked up, but you may be lucky.
Renata Rubnikowicz www.visitwhitby.com discoveryorkshirecoast.com