Driving over the North York Moors on a sunny winter’s day for our New Year celebration was a wonderful start to this 3-day break. The bleak moors open-up for you to see the Bay of Whitby with the majestic Abbey standing proud in the weak sunlight.
The legend of Dracula lives on in Whitby who is said to have landed off a ship in the form of a big black dog, well he must have brought his canine friends with him because every other person in Whitby has a dog, it is a very dog friendly place!
This was our first self-drive organised by Shearings Holidays and it was a huge success. If you drive and enjoy having the flexibility, then this is a good way to experience the excellent holidays that Shearings offer. Many people like to be taken by coach and leave the responsibility to the driver and as many Silver Travellers are getting older they like to leave the car at home or have stopped driving altogether so Shearings Holidays is a perfect way to see the country.
The Bay Royal Hotel on the west side of Whitby is a large prominent hotel set behind the ‘Jaw Bone’ that is there to represent the whaling and fishing industry of years gone by. Fishing is still done out of Whitby but not on the scale it used to be.
We parked our car outside the hotel, there are no restrictions or payments to be made for parking during the winter months in Whitby. The Bay Royal Hotel does have parking places at the back of the hotel, so check this if you need it when booking your break.
The warm welcome at the hotel was excellent and the atmosphere a pleasure, with people enjoying a drink or sitting talking to old or new friends. I met a couple who were celebrating 10 years of visiting the Bay Royal Hotel for New Year and that speaks volumes, Shearings must be doing something right. The manager and her staff are a credit to the company.
The hotel was decorated for the festive season and looked splendid, as well as being very clean and very comfortable. There is a lift to the three floors, which can be a little temperamental, but patience will work wonders and everyone gets to their rooms eventually. Many rooms overlook the sea and these are at the front of the hotel so if you want a sea view, it is a good idea to ask the representative at Shearings to book you one of these rooms.
Our New Year’s Eve started with a bucks fizz in the lounge with other guests and then we went into the candle lit restaurant for our evening meal. The food is good and well served, a choice of starters and mains plus dessert and tea or coffee is on the extensive menu. Allergies and other dietary concerns are catered for. Many guests dressed up for this occasion and it was a very festive meal.
Then the party started. The ballroom which is a short walk from the dining room was filling up with people waiting for the entertainment for the evening. Balloons and party hats were on the tables, enhancing the festive spirit. There was ballroom dancing for the first part of the evening, which many people enjoyed, then bingo which is very popular, and you could have heard a pin drop it was so quiet when the bingo was on! Then the resident entertainer, who is very good was joined by a lady singer to entertain us up to the striking of midnight.
New Year was let in with three circles of people singing Auld Lang Syne then it was off outside the hotel or to the windows of the lounge to see the firework display over Whitby Harbour, a lovely way to welcome the next decade.
The next day was a brunch breakfast, set a little later for the ‘weary heads’ but many people were up and out in the cold, but sunny air to explore Whitby. The beaches where thronged with walkers. It was very bracing and enjoyable but even better when sat in one of the many coffee shops that open on New Year’s Day for the thawing out! We ventured on a pleasure boat from the harbour and enjoyed seeing Whitby from the sea. This included a sighting of porpoises, a lovely addition to the trip and good value at only £3 per head.
We didn’t venture up to Whitby Abbey with its 199 steps but for anyone feeling sprightly and fit then it is well worth the effort. There are bench seats in strategic places when you do walk up to sit and look at the view or just get your breath back.
Fish and chips are the order of the day in Whitby and the large queues outside the world-famous Magpie Restaurant proved that we never tire of fish and chips at the seaside. It is advised to book when going to the Magpie but if you like to do it the ‘old way’ with chips in a bag whilst walking on the Whitby Pier, great, but watch out for the gulls, they also love fish and chips!
Afternoon tea and cake was provided at the hotel which was very welcome after a walk back up the hill. The hotel is disabled friendly and walks can be done from the hotel along the cliff tops. Going into the town centre can be a little more difficult for disabled travellers but car parking in the centre is plentiful and on the flat, but remember Whitby is a ‘cobbled’ town and very bumpy so beware of this.
Shearings do ‘pull out’ all the stops for Christmas and New Year breaks and Whitby does have a lot to offer the Silver Travellers for this time of year.
Dracula has made Whitby famous and his black dog disguise would not be unusual today, but Bram Stoker would be amazed at the popularity of this small fishing village, set surrounded by the stunning North Yorkshire Moors.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Shearings.