Our second day in Yorkshire begun the way every good morning in England should – with a full English breakfast complete with all the works.
Now, I have to be honest, I’d only really been intrigued about visiting Robin Hood’s bay because of Robin Hood (I didn’t even know that much about the town itself or the history) but as soon as we arrived and started to explore its quaint little streets, it was pretty much love at first sight!
Thankfully, we had a tour guide booked for the afternoon to show us around (we went with Baytown and they do all kinds of tours for all kinds of people – the most popular of which is probably their beer tours which I’d happily return for someday soon).
Robin Hood’s Bay is a small fishing village down by the coast and in the past used to be home to many a smuggler! In these tiny streets, things like gin, tea, rum and brandy were smuggled into England. Fancy that – smuggling tea! 😀 😀
Anyway, the very first question I asked as soon as we started was a.) “Was Robin Hood actually real?” and b.) “Did he live here?”. Turns out, Robin Hood might have referred to not just one person but several people. I can’t remember all the details but from what I recall – the concept of the outlaws stealing from the rich to give to the poor seems to have been but Robin Hood was a nickname of sorts given to the bandits who did stuff like this.
Suffice to say, lots of dodge dealings went on in these now quiet quaint streets and you can’t help but be impressed as you walk through.
One of said interesting spots is “Fisherman’s Arms” where, after the police (back in those days) raided the smugglers and took over their contraband, they then proceeded to help themselves to their gin, rum, brandy and whatever other liquor was available.
Drunk police, of course, are sleepy police so when the police all went to sleep, the smugglers came back and stole everything back from the police. ( 😀 I keep saying “police” but I have no idea if they were called “police” back then – whatever they were called, they were the equivalent of the police we have in today’s times).
There’s just so much stuff at every turn here, which is surprising considering how relatively small the village is.
Then there are the houses, many of which are centuries old and still serve as homes to the families that owned them back then. In this little village, you wouldn’t be surprised if you bought a house here and found that it had secret tunnels leading to an escape route by the sea (though I’d rather hope mine led to a secret cellar with hundreds of bottle of aged rum and gin!).
Eventually, stopped for lunch at the Old Post Office, a fun and quirkly little spot which isn’t really a post office anymore but a café.
We wasted no time in ordering up Yorkshire tea, thick deep-filled sandwiches and ginger beers – all of which filled the spot quite nicely!
With that, we said farewell to beautiful Robin Hood’s Bay and headed over to the nearby town of Whitby, which we’d actually been in the night before but didn’t quite get to explore.
Much as I wanted to explore the town of Whitby, there was one place I had to stop in first – the amazing (and rather impressive) Whitby Abbey!
^And yes, that’s the wind running away with my hat!
Whitby Abbey is almost 1,400 years old (one of the oldest in England – it was built in 657) and only fell into ruin, like many other abbeys and monasteries across the U.K., when Henry the 8th (yup, the same one that beheaded his many wives – including Anne Boleyn) decided to dissolve them all and use their wealth to fund his conquests (this Wikipedia page here has far more detail on all this than I can attempt to explain here).
As a result of the above, Whitby Abbey is technically a ‘ruin’ but boy what an impressive ruin it is!
Roaming through its gothic halls, you can’t help but be impressed! You can also see why Whitby Abbey is considered the birthplace of Dracula as it’s the very place that inspired Bram Stoker to write the books.
It’s hall after all of stunning architecture here and you can’t help but have your mind wander when you visit – trying to imagine how grand it must have been about 700 years ago before Henry the 8th pillaged it.
One of the best views of the cathedral if from the pond right in front of it (one a calm day, the cathedral reflects on the pond and makes for quite the sight).
After much pottering around, trying to soak up as much of the sight of this impressive cathedral as possible, we finally decided to head over to Whitby for a drink and to have a look at this pretty little coastal town.
One of the best views of Whitby is from up here by the Abbey, by the way, so be sure to check it out before you head into town!
Alas, by the time we got into Whitby, seeing as we were visiting in autumn (slash “almost winter”), it got fairly dark fairly quickly – the perfect excuse for mucking around in its colourfully kitsch and rather retro arcades…
… before wandering down the streets in search of beers, pots of tea and maybe even a cheeky little pre-dinner fish and chips. (We ended up deciding not to spoil our dinner with fish and chips beforehand but if you’re here and looking for where to go – by and large, the recommendation by everyone we spoke to was to head to The Magpie Café – even people who lived in other cities recommended going here).
^ Those are the fishermen returning for the day with their fresh catch!
Dinner for tonight was like dinner the previous night – Michelin Star Chef delicious! Thing is, again, I didn’t know it at the time – I just knew that the Estbek House in Sandsend (which is actually still in Whitby) was a place that everyone recommended going to for food and so that’s what we did.
You start off your evening with a drink in the bar downstairs (Gin and Tonic for me) while trying to decide what you want to eat.
Partway through your drink, you’ll then get shown to your table upstairs where your feasting for the evening will commence!
We started off with a little soup (compliments of the chef) before tucking into some freshly smoked salmon (all done in-house) and a whitebait with calamari (for myself and Lloyd respectively).
For mains, seeing as Yorkshire’s seafood is pretty spectacular, I went for cod and Lloyd went for the turbot, served with sides of vegetables and mash.
The meals so far had been absolutely delightful! As soon as you tuck in, you know why everyone had recommended coming here! I just love it when we get restaurants so right. Estbek House was absolutely perfect!
Dessert comes out in smaller portions which is absolutely fantastic as you get so much more choice to have! I’d recommend having 2 or 3, though I ended up having 3 and a half once Lloyd and I found out about the liquorice ice cream. I don’t like liquorice typically, my tastes when it comes to sweet stuff is a bit too obvious to indulge in liquorice but when the waitress recommended trying the ice cream (along with the promise that it was like “nothing we’d ever tasted”), Lloyd and I obliged with the caveat that we would have to share it and boy was it worth it!
It’s the perfect mix of that liquorice taste and flavour, without that bitter/strange after-taste you get with liquorice. It’s absolutely fantastic and I can’t recommend it enough now that I’ve had it.
The other desserts we went for were a mix of crème brulees, ice creams, trifles and much more (*you can see all the desserts available here).
Suffice to say, we left Estbek House in a state of food euphoria – so much so that by the time we got back to the lodge at the Ravenshall Hotel, I finally decided to try my hands at lighting the fire (I’d wanted to do this since the night before).
Firelight, cup of tea in hand, I can’t even begin to describe how pleased I was that we’d finally decided to visit Yorkshire. What an absolutely special part of England. 🙂