Whitby, North Yorkshire (c) Roger Keetch

Britain from the Air - Whitby

Whitby has a proud maritime heritage with overtones of literary Gothic

The town of Whitby and the nearby village of Staithes played an important role in the early life of the great explorer James Cook. He lived for a short time in Staithes, working in a grocer’s shop near the harbour. It was here that he first developed his love of the sea.

Cook later moved along the coast to Whitby, where he lived for nine years. Here he met local ship-owners the Walker brothers, who took him on as an apprentice seaman. After learning the trade, Cook joined the Navy and soon gained the rank of Captain. 

Cook went on three great voyages during his life time and circumnavigated the world. He was killed during his final voyage while in Hawaii.

Second homes 

Two prominent local issues in Whitby, as in many other towns and villages of coastal Britain, are second home ownership and an ageing population. In recent years rural communities across Britain have found that some local houses are being bought up by wealthy out-oftowners for their weekend or holiday homes.

This demand usually pushes up house prices making it difficult for local people to buy homes. They are then forced to search further afield for affordable housing. At the same time, the community shrinks as large family houses sit empty for much of the year.

A different trend, of selling expensive city homes to retire to the peace and gentler pace of rural areas, and coasts in particular, also pushes up local property prices and helps to account for Britain’s ageing coastal populations.

The prince of darkness

Whitby has featured in a number of literary works, but perhaps its most famous appearance is in the novel Dracula. Whitby is where Dracula first comes ashore in Britain after travelling by boat from Transylvania. 

The book's Irish author Bram Stoker often visited Whitby from London. He wrote Dracula while he stayed in Whitby's Royal Hotel and was reportedly inspired by the chilling tales told by the local fishermen and by the impressive 11th century ruins of Whitby Abbey.

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Location: Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO21 1DX
Grid reference: NZ 89821 10870

Britain from the Air - Whitby credits

Thank you to -

Roger Keetch for aerial photography

Text researched and written by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

The number of second homes owned in Britain is estimated to be nearly a quarter of a million.