We popped to Whitby, reckoning a blustery Saturday at the end of September would see us safe from both holiday hordes and the groups of Goths that always turn up in Mr Everitt’s tales.
It was heaving. The busiest place I’ve seen since St Ives at Easter or York’s Shambles in Summer. Apparently there’s a themed weekend every week in Whitby, and today it was obviously “Slow Folk Stopping To Gaze At Tat Weekend“. Luckily overweight tourists don’t climb up hills like the one below, so there was an escape route.
If I lived here I’d walk the steep cobbles to the Abbey 5 times a day (the 199 steps are for weaklings),and then put the calories back on down in town. The views from the top are majestic of course. You can see nearly all 34 pubs.
To be fair, I kept stopping at shop windows as well. I feel duty bound to go up every alley way to see if there’s a Whitelocks or Halfway House hidden away.
It was ten years since we last visited Whitby, and I was delighted to see how little it’s changed, but I guess that’s the secret of success with the grey market. That and cakeshops.
The newish (and frankly ugly) Wetherspoons hotel provides the only obvious intrusion of “craft”, and also seemed to soak up the younger and more boisterous afternoon drinkers.
That left the Beer Guide pubs as little havens of pubby calm. If you want new breweries you’ll need to go to Middlesbrough or York; Whitby is the place to sample the stalwarts at their best. We did see one potential site for a cutting edge micropub though;
Opposite the station is, of course, the Station. Already bustling at 10.45am with the feel of a suburban Preston boozer, and similar stylings.
Mrs RM urged me to enter the completion to win a lifetime’s supply of Coors by taking a photo of a pint of it against a background of peanuts, but I settled for the less glamorous Black Sheep, which was rich and full-bodied (NBSS 3.5).
Across the bridge, the Board Inn felt like an adult sanctum, and it wasn’t entirely evident the sign on the door was a joke.
A quick half turned into two as Mrs RM settled to Sky’s Corbyn/Smith shoot-out (subtitles only). The XB and, particularly, the Old Peculiar were equally superb (NBSS 3.5), even if the beer of choice in the pub was a certain Smooth.
The gem though, was the Black Horse, another Tetley Heritage pub, and one of their most photogenic.
Pub Curmudgeon wrote about a near ideal pub this week, and for me the Black Horse embodied the attractive town local I’m always attracted too. Despite a few signs saying “craft” (Erdinger), this is the definition of traditional.
Very chatty locals, a few visitors attracted by the exterior or the pubs snacks (pate, olives, cheese plates), and a proper beer range. Golden Hen, Adnams and Whitby Jet Black (NBSS 3.5) is a good mix of competent beers from near and far. Whitstable’s Ship Centurion is a good comparison.
It’s quite a trick for a pub in a tourist town to feel like a local, but all three of these Guide regulars pulled it off with aplomb.