Yorkshire Part 3: Staithes and Whitby


I first heard about Staithes when I was watching Penelope Keith’s “Hidden Villages” on Foxtel a week or so before we left for the UK. It immediately went on my list.

Once one of the largest fishing villages on the North East Coast, these days Staithes with it’s higgledy-piggledy village at the bottom of a steep cliff, is a photographer’s and artist’s dream come true.

Staithes also has connections to Captain Cook with the wannabe explorer crediting his passion for the sea to his time working in Staithes as a grocer’s apprentice. He later joined the Royal Navy just a few miles down the road in Whitby.

The village still has a fishing fleet – albeit a small one – most of whom go to sea in traditional open, flat-bottomed, high-bowed vessels known as cobles.

Anyways, that’s enough from me…I’ll let the pics do the rest of the talking.

And because I rarely post pics of me and the family, here are a couple. Just how stylish is my beanie? (And how short do I look next to Sarah?)

Getting there…

Staithes is 56 miles north east of York, so about 90 kms…as an aside, it does my head in having to work in miles in the UK #firstworldproblems

The road takes you through the North York Moors National Park which is well worth seeing. Pickering and Goathland (a little off the main road) are both worth a stop and a look. Goathland was used as the village of Aidensfield in the TV show “Heartbeat” (am I the only who remembers that?) and the train station acts as Hogsmeade Station – the main station for Hogwarts – in the Harry Potter movies.

Need to know…

The car park is at the top of the cliff – it’s a steep walk down the road into the village and, it follows, a steep walk back up again!

There are plenty of B&Bs in the village if you want to stay a little longer…


I’ve told you about Whitby before – you can find that post here. While you’re there, check out this post about Filey, another fabulous coastal village.

I’ve heard people describe Whitby as “the Amalfi Coast…in the mist.” Seriously though, this is a really pretty town with lots to love – not least the stories of Captain Cook and Dracula. We weren’t there for sightseeing this time though – we were there for lunch.

Whitby is famous for its seafood. In particular, the Magpie Cafe is known as having some of the best fish and chips around – and here in Yorkshire, that’s a big call. One of my foodie heroes, James Martin, says that he takes the top chefs from his team here for takeaway at least once a year; and Jay Rayner, one of the most respected critics in the business said this:

You would have to be a certified curmudgeon to not like the Magpie. There is nothing chic or sleek about it. The whitewashed, bay-windowed exterior gives way to a tight tangle of dining rooms across multiple floors, crowded with robust, solidly built furniture and no-nonsense waitresses who are equally so. It’s the sort of place where babies are passed from hand to hand so new parents can have a moment’s peace to eat their lunch.

Normally the queue for the cafe is long, but the day we were there the weather wasn’t the best – okay it was bitterly cold and raining – and while the restaurant was busy, we didn’t have to wait for a table.

The menu is huge but people come for the fish and chips – or, as James Martin puts it, “one of each.” And up north it’s all about the haddock. The batter is crunch perfect and the fish inside perfectly steamed and flaky.

The menu offers 2 sizes: regular and large. The regular (£10.95) comes with the warning, “This is Yorkshire – have this size and leave room for dessert.” No chance of that – the serving was huge and would have fed 2 of us. We saw the large come out and it seriously was the size of one of the boats that had gone to sea to catch the fish!

Whitby is also famous for its crab, which is what I ordered. Crab and chips. I ate the crab – which was a rich mix of brown and white crab meat with marie rose sauce – and left the chips. Again, a ridiculous portion size.

Sarah ordered an entree size seafood hotpot and also had trouble finishing. Next time we’ll be sharing.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

24 thoughts

  1. These places are exactly what makes me want to go to England. Not London or big cities. But little villages. Like on Escape to the Country etc… Of course I realise living there would be entirely different – like some tiny regional city here in Australia but it’s so different visually to what we have.

    1. It’s what keeps us going back. Cities are cities but these villages are really different from county to county

  2. I remember Heartbeat! I love vicariously exploring my homeland through your posts. Staithes looks like something out of a picture postcard and those fish and chips have me drooling. Can’t wait to get my fish and chip fix now I’m in the UK!

    1. Thanks Jennifer. I adore this county – from the moors to the sea to the hills…it’s lovely. We’re going back next year to do some of the walks I think.

  3. Wow that cliff shot is incredible Jo!! I love your beanie and the photos tell a great story, along with your words of course. I’ve been to Yorkshire before but don’t think this area was on the list. #lifethisweek

      1. Absolutely. The first time we were there was in the 90’s before we had Sarah. We bought a teddy there for the baby we’d one day have. She still has it & it’s called Elgin.

  4. Lovely little place Jo – cobblestone streets and a giant crayfish (what’s not to like?) then you throw in a giant serve of delicious looking fish and chips to finish off with – I’m sold!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 😊

  5. Oh I could eat that crab!! That looked amazing. I remember knowing that Capt Cook came from here. England is achingly beautiful. Thanks for doing the ‘hard yards’ for me!!

    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week is 7/51 T: Telling Self-Care Stories #1. 17.2.2020. Hope to see you there AND the next 10 prompts are on the home page now! Denyse.

  6. Oh Jo! I’m a Yorkshire fan (especially all of the TV shows made in that area). Do you remember All Creatures Great and Small (James Herriot the vet)? I would love to revisit. We had a trip idea for a driving UK holiday this year but have decided to stay closer to home and visit Tasmania. After reading your post I think I’ll send it to Mike as a gentle reminder of what he is missing out on. Thanks for sharing your travels at #MLSTL.

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