Once in a great while comes a perfect holiday. Earlier this month, I spent one of the sunniest weeks of the year walking the North Yorkshire coastal paths while based at Sneaton Castle, Whitby, combining my stay with visits to bookshops and libraries.
At Whitby library I had the pleasure of meeting the local writers’ group and enjoying what must be the best view of any library in the world.
A former whaling port, Whitby’s skyline is dominated by St Hilda’s Abbey. The town was home to Captain Cook and boasts a replica of his ship “Bark Endeavour.” The parish church of St Mary is reached from the old town by 199 steps. Its churchyard inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula. Twice-yearly, the town hosts a hugely popular festival for Goths.
I topped and tailed my holiday with signings at bookshops. At the excellent independent Whitby Bookshop, staff created an artistic Kate Shackleton window display, including a vintage camera. In Dying in the Wool, Kate thinks back to when she visited Whitby where she met her husband to be and they were photographed by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, the pioneering Victorian photographer (1851-1941) whose work can be seen at the Sutcliffe Gallery. Noel Stokoe, expert on Kate’s Jowett motor car, called into the bookshop with his wife, Jane, to say hello. Noel’s latest and beautifully illustrated book is Jowetts of the 1920s.
I have a soft spot for Filey, further down the coast, and so was delighted to meet readers at Filey Library, after visiting an old friend and having fish and chips for tea.
Our walking week included the Cleveland Way through moorland purple with heather. We scrambled to smugglers’ coves, visited Runswick Bay, Robin Hood’s Bay, Ravenscar and Staithes, once one of the busiest fishing ports on the north east coast.
I was glad, on our final walk, to take the weight off my feet and ride the North Yorkshire Moors Railway steam train, the Nigel Gresley, between Goathland and Grosmont.
Before heading home, I was made most welcome by staff at Scarborough Waterstones for my final signings of the week.