The outside of a motorbike engine seen up close near the exhaust

Home Travel StoriesScarborough And Whitby 2010 - By Ren Withnell

Scarborough and Whitby 2010 - Whitby and Runswick Bay


The first thing I check is the bike. It’s upright and it does not look like it’s been moved. Then we stuff out on breakfast again before making several ascents of the stairs to bring the luggage down. Hopefully the next place won’t have so many bleeding stairs. I pay the landlady and thank her for the hospitality then get on the bike. My next concern is what to do. You see we need to be out of the Scarborough hotel before 1000, normal rules, but the Whitby guesthouse only takes in new guests after 1600, again quite normal. If the trip between these places was 200 miles then that’s just fine, but 20 miles…not enough.

So I find myself now riding into Whitby at 1100, dammit. The last time I came to Whitby it was a cold, wet and very misty day. All I saw was mist, rain and the road in front. My memories of the town consist of a small fishing harbour, a few chip shops, maybe a market and a handful of pubs. It’s those rose tinted glasses again. Whitby is another bustling town complete with industrial and retail estates, busy junctions and a town centre rammed with tourists.

I’m far too early. I carry on back out of town onto the north side. I’m not going anywhere in particular, just following the front wheel for a while. I notice that here, only 20 miles north of Scarborough, the terrain is steeper. There are hills now, steep roads and twisting lanes. This is still farmland, mostly arable, yet there are more trees. We follow narrow lanes then by pure chance I find I’m in the coastal hamlet of Runswick Bay. There’s a hell of a steep road down to the shoreline and it takes some time and effort to turn the fully laden bike around to get back to the public car park.

Runswick Bay is gorgeous. A few miles north along the coast from Whitby, Runswick Bay nestles on the steep bluffs that fall to the beach. There’s a lifeboat station, a café and a handful of small tightly packed cottages with narrow paths between. We park the bike and bravely choose to leave all the bags with the bike, out of sight. We grab a brew in the café and sit outside to look out over the bay. The weather’s still cloudy but dry and warm, we’re in a cute village which makes the gf happy and I’m drinking tea, this is all good.

Narrow streets and tiny cottages in Runswick Bay
The narrow streets and tiny fishing cottages in Runswick Bay

We take a walk around the hamlet, helmets and all. It only takes 20 minutes and that includes taking pictures and discussing the prices of the holiday lets. It’s a lovely place so we commit it to memory, maybe for an out of season weekend break.

Back on the road it’s only 1300 and we’ve still got time to kill. We ride around inland, turn off here and there, follow a strange road and generally get lost. Down one dirty single track lane I find a ford…well barely a trickle across the road really. Essentially though it bears a big ford warning sign and even has a depth gauge. That means it is a real ford and can be added to my collection of fords I’ve visited. Yeah…I know…


My motorbike and the girlfriend next to a damp road, and a ford sign
The ford is barely a dribble today. That is not a female's my gf.

Back on the road we pass through countryside and village. It’s lovely so we’re dawdling along at 35mph and admiring the scene, chatting as best we can through the helmets. There’s very little traffic and on the rare occasion when a car comes up behind, I pull in and wave it past. All credit to the Fazer, she’s as happy at 30 in the countryside as she is at 130 in Scotland. Not that I’ve ever done over 70, I’m just told this by other Fazer owners.

As each hamlet and village rolls by we slowly head back into Whitby. One village is totally different though. It looks the same, small and quant, but it’s rammed solid with coaches, tourists, cars, motorhomes and caravans. Over my shoulder the gf shouts “What’s going on!” I inform her this is Goathland, where Heartbeat is filmed. That seems to answer any more questions she has.

Even with our trip out we still get back into Whitby at 1430. We find the guesthouse on the outskirts of town, but there’s no reply at the door. Dammit. We head back out and ride around Whitby before I stop and park on the northern edge of town then sit overlooking the bay. We watch large ships pass on the horizon and small craft leave, turn round then re-enter the harbour. I assume these are the “trip out” boats seen advertised on the harbour side. We talk more about the hassle of being on the bike and the associated kit, the great British weather and wonder if we could ever afford a holiday home. Probably not.


The gf taking pictures of the north bay in whitby, overlooking the harbour
I'm sure the gf's pictures will be a lot better than mine.

Eventually we get into the guesthouse. It is a great relief to see there’s only one normal flight of stairs to our room. This place is much more like sharing someone’s house yet our room is private and the en-suite is shiny and clean. The landlady is very talkative and as with most people the conversation revolves around the bike and how we get the luggage on. Frankly I need a sit-down and I’m relieved when she finally departs down the stairs.

We chill for a while, then spread our kit and our clutter around the place, making the once pristine room very untidy. Outside the window, behind the guesthouse, is a college, thankfully closed at this time of year. Strangely though, the surrounding field is covered with motorhomes and caravans! It seems the college supplements its income by turning the grassy areas and football pitch into a campsite. The majority of the campers are mature or elderly and there’s no sound of screaming kids to disturb the relative peace.

Whitby town centre is only 8 minutes walk away, according to the guesthouse’s website. As we arrive in town the place is absolutely heaving. Walking past the bus station we are jostled and pushed, the harbour front itself is almost at a stand-still with fellow tourists. This is not the Whitby I recall, damp, foggy, desolate and eerie, this is tourist hell resplendent with screaming kids, shouting fathers, sulky teenagers and queues outside every shop. We are looking for food, though each place looks worse than the last tonight and by the time we reach the end of the harbour I can tell the gf’s had enough as she readily agrees to another chippy tea.

The Magpie is, apparently, legendary for its fish and chips and the landlady assured us the wait in the queue will be worthwhile. Sure enough there is the queue, and we wait, and wait, then finally we are served. We walk some way to find a spare bench and try to eat whilst seagulls and endless tourists pass by. The chips are average, the gf says the fish is just OK and the sausage I’ve got is poor. We decide reputation has little to do with quality.

Whitby is split in two by the river Esk. Most of the town is on the north side, the south side seems to be the old town. The south side is much nicer, narrow lanes, tiny shops and fewer tourists. We spend an hour wandering round then we promise ourselves we’ll walk up to the Abbey tomorrow. As we walk back the northern side of the river it has quietened down a little.

The guesthouse has a good selection of DVD’s and each room has a player, so the gf chooses a film, Mel Gibson’s Apocolypto. I wish she hadn’t. It’s a strange film that did not float my boat and in a few places turned my stomach too. I’ll probably have nightmares tonight.

Scarborough and Whitby 2010 - Going To Scarborough
Scarborough and Whitby 2010 - A Day In Scarborough
Scarborough and Whitby 2010 - Bridlington, Flamborough Head and Filey
Scarborough and Whitby 2010 - Whitby and Runswick Bay
Scarborough and Whitby 2010 - Robin Hoods Bay
Scarborough and Whitby 2010 - Going Home
Scarborough and Whitby 2010 - More Images

Reader's Comments

jgh said :-
WEST!!!! Runswick Bay is WEST of Whitby. If you go north of Whitby you go into the sea.
5/4/2017 11:48:29 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
HA! Yes...yes jgh I'd say you're right...perhaps West by North West. I stand corrected in my orthotic shoe.
6/4/2017 12:31:23 PM UTC

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