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 cake shops.

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;

Some restoration required

Opposite the station is, of course, the Station.  Already bustling at 10.45am with the feel of a suburban Preston boozer, and similar stylings.

Name the pint

Mrs RM urged me to enter the competition 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.

Pub Curmudgeon approved signage

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 (top)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.

The close-to-perfect Black Horse

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. 

20 thoughts on “HOW TO SURVIVE WHITBY

  1. Loved your description of Whitby. I have been there twice, once staying at the Black Horse, and loved it both times. In the off season it has a wonderful deserted feeling to it. The Black Horse is a really great pub. Whitby seemed to me a great pub town. And at least one over weight tourist did indeed climb that hill!


  2. I must admit that when you wrote, “wrong line,” I thought you were saying “wrong (train) line,” so I chose Platform 3. Very clever!


  3. Many years since I’ve been to Whitby. From what I’ve heard the beer prices tend to be on the high side for somewhere that, if you take away the tourists, is far from prosperous.


  4. Ive been to Whitby three times with the wife on a day out from Scarborough while my Mam and Dad looked after our young kids.
    I thought i had done all pubs in the town in doing 28 and i even found an estate pub,The Stakesby Arms,so not sure where the 7 pubs are that i missed.
    My wife as always wanted to go there in Winter to do the pubs at a quieter time and see what it is like out of season.


    1. Your wife is very sensible, I bet those pubs like the Black Horse are at their best in the winter.

      I counted 34 on WhatPub, possibly that includes suburbs counted within Whitby. It seemed very well pubbed.


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