Whitby, Day Two – The Abbey

After a busy first day and despite our late night, we managed to wake in plenty of time for a lovely cooked breakfast to set us up for the day.  As promised the night before, we strolled back down to the harbour to find the pirate ship to start the day with another boat ride (this was to become a theme).

The pirate ship was actually the Bark Endeavour Whitby, a replica of the HMS Endeavour that Captain Cook sailed round Cape Horn on his expedition to Tahiti in 1768.  While Captain Cook’s expedition was around 18 months and took him round the world, ours was to take us out of the harbour, along the coast and back again for around 40 minutes.  We listened to sea shanties whilst admiring the cliffs and little multi coloured beach huts, and even spotted a couple of seals in the harbour.  You can find out more about the Bark Endeavour here.

 

IMG_0739Next up was Whitby Abbey, but before that, we had to face the 199 steps.  The steps lead to St Mary’s Church, and there is some dispute as to how many steps there actually are.  With Rowan completely un-phased by the task ahead, we started up, counting as we went.  Unfortunately, anyone around us would have had trouble keeping tally, as Rowan’s loud counting got to around 25 then started again.  Stopping for a breather at one of the benches, we spotted the Bark Endeavour making its way back to the harbour again.  The HMS Endeavour was over twice the size and must have made for an impressive sight as Captain Cook left on his voyage.

 

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After a less tiring climb than I expected, we reached St Mary’s Church, with Caedmon’s Cross standing tall in the graveyard.  We wandered through the graveyard and towards the cliffs and the impressive views over Whitby, before walking the short distance to the Abenue – Rowan’s word for the Abbey.  I sometimes miss some of his mispronunciations, like babbit, now he is getting older, so this new made up word did make me smile.

 

Whitby Abbey is really impressive.  I love wandering round castle ruins and abbeys, imagining everything that has happened there before we came for a nosey.  There has been some sort of settlement on the site at Whitby since the Bronze Age, but the ruins we see today were started in the 13th century and finished in the 15th century.  Rowan was able to run around and explore to his heart’s content, deciding which part was his bedroom, peering in the “dungeon” and having a look at pictures of what the Abbey would have looked like in all its splendour.  And the tall columns were perfect for hide and seek.

 

As it was summer holidays, English Heritage were running a series of activities for children, based on Captain Cook.  Rowan had a go at designing his own flag and map before joining in with a game of Captain Cook says which had him scrubbing the decks and climbing the rigging.

 

Once you have bought a ticket for the Abbey, you can come and go for the day so we checked the timetable and realised we had enough time to descend the 199 steps for some chips (we at the seaside after all) before coming back for cutlass training and story-telling.  Rowan threw himself into his swordplay and was engrossed with tales of Captain Cook, and I learnt something too.  Many of the English Heritage sites have events on during the school holidays, and based on our experience at Whitby, I would really recommend them.  You can find out more here.

 

After learning how to use a sword, Rowan wanted his own (adding to the ever increasing collection), so we called down to the shop where, not only did find a new wooden sword for him to buy with his holiday spends, but he also had the chance to try a wooden crossbow.  Now armed, we returned to the Abbey for one last explore and play before walking to the town for some tea.  We had managed to spend most of the day out in the sunshine amongst the ruins of Whitby Abbey and at not one point were we getting bored.

It was getting late as we walked back to the bed and breakfast.  The sunset cruise from the night before had already left and it was getting quiet dark as we walked down the harbour towards the lighthouses.  Rowan mentioned he really liked going on the boats, so we decided we would have a night time adventure and began to walk back (a bit of deja-vu) to the Yellow Boats and their twilight cruise.

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I warned Rowan we might be too late as we ran down the road, and I was right.  We arrived at the dock just as the boat was leaving.  Rowan burst into one of those slow motion cries, and the collective “Aww” from the passengers already on board could be heard from where we stood.  Before I knew it, the men on the boat had brought it back to the dock and made my little boy’s day.  We boarded and wrapped ourselves in blankets again and watched the twinkling lights of Whitby as left the harbour – another lovely end to a brilliant day, made all the more special by the kindness of the men on the Yellow Boat, Whitby Coastal Cruises.

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