Whitby's West Cliff

Whitby West Cliff top is dominated by Whitby hotels, guest houses, holiday accommodation and tourist attractions. George Hudson ‘The Railway King’, who was instrumental in bringing the rail link to Whitby, had the Khyber Pass (named after a strategic pass in the Afghan wars) built into the cliff to provide access to his West cliff estates which he acquired in the 1850’s. George Hudson wished to emulate Bath, with its tourist trade, and commissioned a builder named Langdale, to build a ‘crescent’ and street houses on the estate. Much of the Whitby Accommodation is on the West Cliff.

Whitby Whale Bones Photo

The Whitby Whale Bones

The Royal Hotel was built at the top of the Khyber Pass and has panoramic views over the North Sea, the piers, the East Cliff and Whitby Abbey and also along to Sandsend. Opposite the Royal is the famous Whale Bone Arch, which was originally erected in 1853, as at that time Whitby was an important Whaling town. Bones given by Norway in 1963 replaced the original ones, which are displayed in the Whitby Archive Centre. The present bones are from Alaska and replaced the former, in 2003.

Captian Cook Statue Photo

Captain Cook's Statue

To the left of the Whale Bone Arch is the bronze statue of Captain James Cook, standing over 6 feet tall. The statue was presented to Whitby by the MP Sir Gervase Becket MP and unveiled in 1912. Looking down to the harbour from here, one can see the Khyber Pass, a twisting steep road from the Bandstand to the West Cliff. It is believed that there are one or two cannons buried on the hillside to evade them having to be melted down to help the ‘war effort’. In front of the Royal Hotel, and facing north are the sunken gardens sheltered somewhat by the winds off the North Sea.

Royal Crescent Photo

Royal Crescent

The Royal Crescent, was unfortunately only half built as a result of Hudson being bankrupted. There does exist, however, the beautiful Crescent Gardens, maintained to a high degree with floral beds, seating and an unusual sculpture.

Royal Crescent Gardens Photo

Royal Crescent Gardens

Bram Stoker stayed at a guest house in Royal Crescent in the late 1890’s, and drew his inspiration for Dracula from Whitby and the Abbey. Indeed, in the book of Dracula, he came ashore in the form of a black dog shipwrecked off the coast of Whitby. There is a Dracula Society and a large population of Goths who travel to Whitby for a few days each April and November. Many dress in period costume as they wander the town and it seems almost that Whitby is back in the ‘olden days’. On the West Cliff there is an outdoor paddling pool with public conveniences closeby. A new skateboarding area has recently been built.

Khyber Pass in the snow Photo

The Khyber Pass and Royal Hotel in the Snow

Other children's activities on the West Cliff include bumper boats, trampolines, pitch and putt, and crazy golf. There is also a tourist shop selling buckets and spades and ice-creams. The large west cliff car park is near the Whitby Leisure centre. The centre has a swimming pool, tennis courts, gymnasium and a badminton court. Find information on Whitby Leisure centre from the Whitby Tourist Information Centre or from the Scarborough Borough Council Website, by clicking on the following link. Whitby Leisure Centre

West Cliff Beach Photo

West Cliff Beach with Whitby Spa Pavillion

The Spa Pavilion is a popular venue for exhibitions, dances, pantomimes, amateur dramatics, seaside variety shows etc. It has a licensed bar, café and car park. There is the older Victorian building where most of the entertainment shows are held, the Northern Lights Suite, the Undercroft and the Crystal Lounge café where the spectacular sea and cliff views can be viewed from floor to ceiling glass windows. During the summer months there are special children’s events including mini discos and magic shows. Details can be found on the Scarborough Borough Council website, by clicking on the following link.
Whitby Spa Pavillion

West Cliff Sunset Photo

June Sunset from the West Cliff

During the early summer months of May and June, the sun appears to set in the sea, this is a most spectacular site from the West Cliff. At this time the sun rises over the sea and appears to set over the sea. In reality it sets behind the land near Sunderland/Newcastle.

West Cliff Photo

The winding path down to West Cliff Beach

Winding steep paths at the top of the West Cliff, take you down to the Whitby's lovely sandy beach with its brightly coloured painted beach huts. In the season, there is a cliff lift, first opened in 1931, which is available from the end of April to the end of September.

Beach Huts Photo

Beach Huts on West Cliff Beach

The West Cliff has two large car parks and on street parking. One of the large pay and display car parks is near the Whitby Leisure Centre, and stretches to the Royal Crescent Gardens. The other pay and display car parks are on the cliff top near to the Whitby Spa Pavilion. At the present time, the on street parking is free.

Whitby West Cliff Photo

Whitby West Cliff

Every year at Whitby Regatta time (usually sometime in July or August depending on the tides), the West Cliff is a hub of activity. Most years there is a display by the Red Arrows, a spectacular display over the sea viewed at eye level from the cliffs. It really is Quite breathtaking! The Army has various displays and obstacle courses for the young. There are vintage car and vintage motorcycle displays, a children’s fancy dress parade, and many other attractions.

Whitby West Cliff Map

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