If any of you are lucky enough to live near Whitby like me, or are holidaying here anytime soon then I will tell you a few ways to enjoy it without going broke. As it’s the summer holidays, I realise with three children to keep entertained, that living around the corner from a seaside town is a massive bonus. I have never taken my home town for granted and in the 36 years I have lived here, I have made the most of the local amenities, not only as a child growing up, but now with my own children and step-children.
The most obvious thing to do is to go to the beach. We are lucky to have a number to choose from, with the beautiful village Sandsend on our doorstep, Whitby has 2 to choose from and there’s Saltwick Bay. Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed. Whether it’s fossil hunting, rock pool exploring or sandcastle building, there are plenty of free activities that will keep you entertained all day.
West Cliff Paddling Pool
Situated up on Whitby’s west cliff area, the paddling pool is a great little spot to spend your day and best of all – it’s free! There are some trampolines and go-karts next door, or the crazy golf over the road for a small fee, but if you’re after a free day then the paddling pool is the place to go. There are plenty of places to buy an ice-cream near-by if you get too hot.
Pannett Park and Museum
Located in the centre of town, you can access Pannett park from Chubb Hill road, Bagdale or St Hilda’s terrace. With its lush green plants and pretty flowers, it’s a perfect place for a picnic. Let the children explore the Jurassic garden, complete with dinosaur footprints and a crocodile. Have a wander up to the top and relax in the commemorative garden near the Whitby arches. If the children are feeling energetic – are they ever anything else? – then at the top entrance of the park is the very well-equipped playground. Locals can visit the museum entirely for free, if you are on holiday then adults are £5 but all children are free.
Not for the faint hearted, the steps are past Church Street along the old cobbled part of Whitby, near Henrietta Street. Walking up these you will see everyone trying to keep count as they go. For the not so energetic there is a bench half way up with stunning views, but if you can make it to the top you will see Whitby in all its glory. Why not take the children to do some grave rubbings? Respectfully of course, there are plenty of old gravestones close to the path so there is no need to trample over them. Have a look around St Mary’s church or for an entry fee, Whitby Abbey is up there too.
Whitby Lifeboat Museum
Have a wander down the pier, there are many stalls selling ice-creams and waffles, cockles and mussels, toffee and fudge. Souvenir and sweet shops, fish and chips and the amusements. When you get to the end of the road you will come across Whitby Lifeboat Museum which is free entry to all. Set in an old double boathouse, used by the R.N.L.I from 1895-1957, there are many artefacts to view. Donations are gratefully received and heavily relied upon to keep the lifeboat running. You never know when you might need them, so be as generous as you can.
The extensions and lighthouse
Whitby looks beautiful from most angles but if you get chance, climb to the top of the lighthouse for a breath-taking view. For just £1 you can make the journey up the narrow staircase. Do not forget your camera for this, it’s hard to take a bad picture from up there. Why not visit Botham’s on Baxtergate for lunch supplies? For under a tenner you can equip yourself with a substantial picnic and sit on any of the many benches along the piers. Please remember to dispose of your rubbish responsibly and do NOT feed the gulls.
As you head towards pier road from the swing bridge, you will see a few boats in the harbour. For a small price, you can have a trip out to sea. Some of them don’t charge for children under 5. On a sunny day, it is a must to head out of the harbour and into the sea to go jelly fish, or even dolphin spotting. There are many different excursions you can book from all day fishing to 20-minute trips.
Walk the lines
The Cinder Track, sometimes called 'the lines' by locals as it’s the old railway track, leads from Whitby to Scarborough and is perfect for a hike, horse-ride or bike ride. From Whitby, you can walk to Robin Hood’s Bay, which will take roughly an hour to walk or 15-minutes on a bike. The fitter among you can carry on and will eventually end up in Scarborough. Comfortable footwear is a must.
Fish and Chip supper
One of the most argued about points in Whitby is, where you can get the best fish and chips. Personally, I think it’s hard to find anything other than delicious fish and chips in Whitby. A super cheap way of feeding your family while you are here. Grab a pack of white bread buns from Coopland’s on Baxtergate - they’re about £1 for 6 soft floury buns - perfect for chip sandwiches. Buy a few bags of chips, don’t forget the salt and vinegar, get yourself to the nearest scenic spot and enjoy. There are many places to enjoy your chips in Whitby and if you do have a larger budget then there are many cafes and restaurants to try.
The Swing Bridge
What is open when it’s shut and shut when it’s open? Whitby Swing Bridge of course! The only thing is, when is it open and when is it shut? If it’s open to traffic, it’s shut to boats and vice versa. Enough of the mind games anyway, it’s a great thing to witness if you haven’t seen it before, not so much for the locals making their way from one side of town to the other in a hurry. It’s a beautiful photo opportunity and just next to it down some steps is Kiddie’s corner. A great platform to do a spot of crabbing. There are many shops near-by that sell crabbing equipment -a bucket, line and bait- to get you started. A great activity for the kids.
These are just a select few free and cheap activities to do in Whitby. Why not set yourself a challenge where you live of finding the cheapest way you can enjoy your local facilities? Try having a day out on a set amount of money, see if you can rise to the challenge.