Scotland and England – Whitby, Edinburgh and York by car in 7 days (Covid time and all)

Scotland and England – Whitby, Edinburgh and York by car in 7 days (Covid time and all)

Edinburgh Castle in the background

After so long in lockdown, we finally set off to our little adventure to Edinburgh with our friends D and T. We had this trip planned since last year and initially it was going to be to Edinburgh only. Our friends would take the train in London and we would take the same train once it stopped in Peterborough. However, because of the pandemic we had to cancel it twice and when we finally could go ahead, we decided to travel by car to be a bit safer.

Because of the change of plans and the long distance, we decided to break up the journey by stopping in Whitby on our way up and to stop in York on the way back. We basically had one day in each of these lovely northern town and city. We had been to Whitby before, but our friends hadn’t. Even though one day does not sound like much time, it was enough for T and D to decide they would like to return to Whitby soon. The same case for York, such a lovely place, we will definitely go back there to explore more of the city and its surroundings.

The trip was from 26/05 to 01/06/21, seven days from Wednesday to Tuesday next week. Weatherwise, the month of May had been a disaster so far, with some serious rainfall most of the weeks on the lead-up to our trip. Worse, the weather forecast for the days ahead was not very promising either. Luckily, the weather Gods smiled at us and we had beautiful, sunny days and not a drop of rain in sight whilst travelling.

Well, with the background story out of the way, let’s delve into some details of our trip. With all the recent talks about “staycations”, maybe you will also be inspired to travel to enjoy all the beautiful places we have here in the British Isles.

Whitby

Whitby Abbey

Let’s start with Whitby, the great little town. Whitby is a seaside town in Yorkshire steeped in history, culture, and myths. From its association to Captain Cook’s Endeavour voyages, as well as Bram Stoker taking inspiration from Whitby’s Gothic Abbey for his best-known novel (Dracula), Whitby covers it all. That’s even before we consider Whitby’s cobbled streets and period buildings, which give the town a special character and mysterious atmosphere well worth a stay. And, if you like your Goth looks, bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cure, Whitby hosts the annual “The Whitby Goth Weekend” celebration. See? I told you this town covered it all!

Besides the history and gothic atmosphere, it is also a seaside town with a pretty sand beach and pier and fresh delicious seafood to try on. Whitby is also known to have the best fish & chips in the country!

There are many things to do in Whitby, some we have done on another trip last year, such as the Whitby Walks with walks on selected days at 7:30 pm. The guide, Dr Crank, is very funny and tell lots of tales about Whitby in the olden times taking us to interesting buildings and streets. There is also the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, boat trips, the Whalebone Arch, and if you have time, a trip on the North York Moors Railway train from Whitby to Pickering. It is a fabulous day out packed with beautiful scenery and interesting stories. There are plenty of activities for families as well. However, this time we will not have time to do much, but enough to enjoy the town’s exciting vibe.

Whitby Harbour

Wednesday

We left our little town, in Cambridgeshire at 9 am. We took the A1 all the way up until Leeds and then we turned right on the A64 to Whitby direction to the east. Our friends had to leave much earlier as they live in Buckinghamshire and it is much further south than us. We drove pretty much straight there only stopping once to use the toilets. Our friends and us arrived in Whitby at about the same time, 1 pm and we went straight to the accommodation we had booked to stay for the night. As we were not allowed to get access to the rooms until 4 pm, we just parked the cars in the carpark next to the accommodation and went out for a walk. We headed to “The Fisherman’s Wife” restaurant for lunch.

The Fisherman’s Wife restaurant has the most amazing views of the beach and sea and we did manage to get a table facing the sea. The restaurant specialises in seafood but there are a few dishes for someone who does not eat fish or is a vegetarian. We all eat fish, so we had no problem.  My friend D had mussels cooked in a smooth white wine and cream sauce, T had the fish pie, my husband J had the fish cakes, and I had the famous Whitby fish and chips. All dishes were perfect, and we all loved it.

View from our table
The Fisherman’s Wife Restaurant

After lunch we went for another walk passing through the harbour and the old town heading to the 199 steps to go up and visit the ruins of the Abbey. The view from the town at the top is beautiful and you can see both, the East and West areas of the town that are linked by a swing-bridge. By the time we had arrived at the top it was too late to get inside of the Abbey, but we still managed to get closer and take some photos.

The 199 Steps

After walking around and exploring the top, it was time to start going down the steps. Once back in the Old Town we stopped for some tea and cakes at the W Hamond Tea Room and looked at the amazing jewellery made with Whitby’s jet stone they have there. Whitby Jet stone is a black stone, one of the oldest British gemstones and is made of fossilized Monkey Puzzle trees from the Jurassic era. It was very fashionable in the Victorian days, popularised by Queen Victoria when she worn it while mourning Prince Albert’s death.

It was time to walk back to our accommodation and get access as it was more than 4 pm now. The access to the Silver Street Suites is only after you receive an e-mail at 4 pm with the access code to enter the front door and another code to your room. There is no reception or anyone on site to talk to, but there is a telephone number you can call in case you have a problem and need help. As we were going to stay only one night, we wanted to book somewhere close to town, clean and comfortable providing good value for money. While looking for accommodation I came across the Silver Street Suites in Booking.com and by looking at photos and descriptions of the rooms it looked like that was exactly what we were looking for. The price was very good as well, so we quickly booked it for the night.

The place seems to be newly refurbished/converted and some aspects of it are good, but others are not. Although the place was new, we had the impression that it was not properly done, and the finishes and materials used were not of a very good quality. The heating system was electric and controlled via Alexa, with just a small radiator on one wall. This was the end of May and the evenings were still cold, so we did use the heating at night. However, it was very difficult to control and although the heating provided was sufficient for that time of the year, I think in winter, when the temperature is lower, the room might not feel too comfortable.

The bed was a DIY contraption made of simple timber frame and not to the standard of a double sized bed. The duvet was so thin, and plasticky! There was no bathroom matt and you had to walk out of the shower directly on the cold floor. But the worst of all was that they did not leave an extra roll of toilet paper. Yes, just a small roll previously used with some paper on and that was that – no spare rolls at all.  I don’t need to say that I didn’t leave very good reviews to the Silver Street Suites, do I? However, if you want to stay in town and save some money, the place is clean and recently refurbished. On a positive side, if you are travelling with your dog, they welcome dogs in there. In the end of the day, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.

After some rest and a quick shower, we went for dinner. I had booked the “Star at the Harbour” restaurant which is near the train station. We had been there before and enjoyed the food, so I thought that it deserved a come back to enjoy their delicious food. The kitchen is under the supervision of chef Andrew Pern who had a Michelin star at one of his other restaurants. The menu covers fish and meat all with local produce and seasonal menus. We had an excellent meal there and everybody was happy with everything. This is a quality restaurant serving quality food, very enjoyable. Have a look at some of the food we had there.

After eating and drinking we made our way back to the Silver Street Suites.

Thursday

We all wake up early and by 8:30 were out of our rooms and walking around town looking for a place to have breakfast.  The Silver Street Suites does not provide breakfast. Many places were still closed, and we walked to the old town. We found the White Horse and Griffin Pub open for breakfast and we made our way to the dining room. Apparently, this pub was frequented by James Cook who moved to Whitby whist training with a local shipping firm. Fun fact: two of the vessels Captain Cook used on his travels to New Zealand and Australia, “Resolution” and “Endeavour” were built in Whitby.  Breakfast was plenty and tasteful with Whitby Kippers and traditional English Breakfast.

With our bellies full and ready to start the day we headed back to the hotel to check out and continue with our trip.

After checking out we drove to Robin’s Hood’s Bay. You cannot visit Whitby and not go to the picturesque village of Robin Hood’s Bay. It is such a lovely village, and you will always feel like going back in time. We walked down to the beach passing through the lovely houses alongside the main road and reached the beach. We had a long walk on the beach and had an ice cream. The way back up was via the large sea wall and the steps leading to the top.

After getting back to the top of the village, we continued our trip driving north by the coast. Our next stop was in Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

It was a sunny day, and the beach was very busy, packed with young people as well as families enjoying the great weather. There were also plenty of dogs taking their owners on leisurely walks on the promenade. We parked the car and went for a walk on the promenade as well. It was lunch time and we looked for a place to eat. Unfortunately, the restaurant I had in mind, “Seaview”, was closed for refurbishment and we could not eat there. They are famous for their delicious crab sandwiches. We ate at a pub in front of the beach on the outside tables and soaked up the sun. We only had some nibbles and beers as we were not very hungry after having had such a rich breakfast. After lunch we were back on the road and this time all the way up to lovely Edinburgh.

Saltburn Pier
Beer at Saltburn-by-the-Sea

Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle from the Princess Street Gardens

This was our third time in Edinburgh. My husband and I went there when we first moved to England 30 years ago, then last year on our way up to The Highlands and now. The previous two times were very quick, and we could not see everything Edinburgh has to offer, so we wanted to return with a bit more time. This time was a proper visit and we had three full days to explore Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and in my opinion the nicest of the big cities in Scotland. It is full of history, culture and covered in folklore and myths. It is famous for its culture, beautiful landscapes, and unique character. It is a UNESCO Heritage site, and the Old Town is full of Medieval buildings contributing to the magical character of the place. The New Town is also unique with its Georgian buildings filling up the wide streets. This town is ideal to explore on foot and slowly discover the hidden narrow streets, passageways and yards with stairs leading to surprisingly beautiful sceneries.

Edinburgh has everything a big city like that can offer, from museums and attractions to parks and quality restaurants, you can be sure that you will not run out of things to do in there or feel bored at all.

We arrived in Edinburgh at about 5 pm and went to our reserved accommodation. It was a two-bedroom flat on Leopold Place, near Carlton Hill and rented from Altido Scotland. Location was OK, but a good 15/20 minutes’ walk to the Old Town. Like most of the self-catering accommodation in Edinburgh, there was no parking and after unloading the bags, the husbands went in search of a long-term car parking to leave the cars for the entire length of our stay. They found one in a shopping centre nearby.

We were really pleased with the flat. It had everything you could need while away from home. It was modern with a hint of nostalgia with some period furniture that gave it its charm.

After arrival, we took some time to relax and book the attractions we wanted to visit. We managed to book everything we wanted to see, but not on the days and times we were planning to visit, so I advise you to book the attractions in advance as you may not find tickets for the day and time you want, messing up with your programme. Maybe this will improve with the open up of restrictions, but at the time of our visit, everything needed to be booked online and there was a certain number of visitors at each time to get in.

After some rest and a shower, we got ready for dinner. Dinner tonight was booked at “The Chophouse” in the vaults of Market Street. This is a steakhouse with a difference. The meat is of the best quality you can find in the whole of Scotland. We went for two Chateubriands to share among the four of us with the sauces, sides, and wine to accompany. Delicious, and one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten outside Brazil! After dinner, it was time to get back and get some rest to start our Edinburgh adventure next day.

Friday

After breakfast at the flat we head out to the Old town on foot passing through the centre streets and reaching Princess Street with all the shops you can think of. We walked all the way down Princess Street and crossed Princess Street Gardens. We climbed up to the Old Town at the foot of the Castle. We were booked to visit the Castle at 10:00 and it was time to get in.

Edinburgh Castle was built on top of a rock that is actually an extinct volcano. It seats majestically on top of the rock and can be seen from all over the city. The castle is an important landmark of the city as its history links it to Queen Mary of Scotland and other important figures of the past. It houses the Crown Jewellery, and it has the oldest building in Edinburgh, St Mary’s Chapel, a small Chapel preserved after all the attacks and destruction the castle suffered. Very interesting place, especially if you are interested in history.

After visiting the castle, we went down the Royal Mile and to the direction of Grassmarket. We went down via Victoria Street, one of the most charming streets of the Old Town. We had lunch at a French café on Victoria Street.

Victoria Street
Our lunch at the French Cafe

After lunch we walked around Grassmarket and went to see the Greyfriars Bobby. This is the statue of a Skye Terrier that sat by the side of its owner grave for 14 years.

Greyfriars Bobby

Continuing our walks, we went in the direction of the Royal Mile again which out of curiosity is not a mile long, but one mile and 107 yards.

We headed to “The Real Mary King’s Close”. This is a close in the middle of the Royal Mile and below the buildings. This attraction takes you to the bottom of the close where you can see and learn about how people lived in the close in the olden days. This is the hidden Edinburgh that is not open for all to see. The guide will tell you stories and you will visit the underground rooms and imagine on your head how horrible it must have been for these people who lived there on those times. Very realistic and interesting and we all were surprised and pleased with how much we learned about Edinburgh on this tour.

The Real Mary King’s Close

Once back on the Royal Mile we headed on the direction of the flat for a bit of a rest before going out again for dinner.

Tonight, the reservation was for “Contini” a beautiful and chic Italian restaurant. The food there is above the standard Italian serving pizza and pasta. They do serve pasta as well, but all in a more sophisticated way. The building where the restaurant is located is gorgeous, full of architectural details that gives the restaurant a very special flair. Again, another faultless dinner washed down with the best Italian wine we could taste. Everybody went home happy and fully satisfied.

Saturday

We left the flat after breakfast and walked down to Holyhoodhouse Palace as we had tickets booked for 10 am. This is the Queen’s official residence when she is in Scotland. You can visit the State apartments, the Throne Room, and the Morning Drawing Room. You can also visit the Mary Queen of Scots’ Chambers, and where David Rizzio, the Italian musician and private secretary and confidante of Mary Queen of Scots was murdered. They even show the stain of blood on the timber floor on the site it happened …

Holyhood Palace

The garden is a delight and at the time, the rhododendrons were in full bloom. Lovely place to spend a few hours lost in the history of the palace.

After the visit we went up the Royal Mile again and sat on a pub above Victoria Street on the terraces. It was a sunny day, and the streets were vibrant with people strolling up and down and you could hear the sound of the bag pipes playing in the background. We had almost an hour before going for lunch, so a cold beer was welcome at that time. At 1 o’clock we went to the most famous restaurant in Edinburgh for lunch, “The Witchery by the Castle”. The building is 400 years old, and the dining room is decorated in a baroque style squandering opulence and attention to detail. The food was not any less special. It was first class and could be described as sublime. It was a very special lunch experience in a quirk and historical atmosphere that is very difficult to replicate anywhere else. Super recommend if you appreciate high standard restaurant food.

The Witchery by the Castle

After lunch we looked at the shops at the Royal Mile and stopped at John Knox House. It is a very interesting and attractive building from the outside, but nothing much to see on the inside. They have made the interior as a museum with lots of displays and it took the character out of the building a little bit.

After stopping for coffee in a café, we headed home.

After such a nice lunch we did not go out for dinner and chose to stay in and bake some pizzas instead. After dinner we settled down to watch a film and the choice was Mary Queen of Scotland. We really were immersed on our Scottish adventure…

Sunday

It’s a new day, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new life and I’m feeling good … 😀

I always feel good when travelling, I’m in my element!

We really wanted to visit The Georgian House Museum. It is a restored town house full of paintings, costumes, and period furniture of the Georgian time. However, we could not book it online and we decided to walk down there, maybe there were a few spaces left and they would let us in. Fat chance, no chance at all. If you do not book online, you don’t get in anywhere. It was still a nice walk going to the house in a different part of town. From there we walked to the lovely Dean Village close by.

Beautiful place to live in, close to town, but at the same time secluded giving the impression that you are in the countryside. After spending a good time exploring the little village, we decided to walk all the way to Leith by the Water of Leith. Very long walk but very enjoyable as well. We could see the Edinburgh outside the touristic areas and how the local people spend their Sundays. Some on bicycles, some running, some walking their dogs or with children on pushchairs. That was real life on the background. The path leads to Stockbridge where they have a vibrant Sunday market with everything foodie. We stopped to investigate and had to refrain from buying anything and having to carry it all the rest of the way. We stopped for a coffee though and people watch a little bit. We continued with the walk and eventually we arrived in Leith. Leith is the port district, and it houses “The Royal Yacht Britannia”. It is also a shopping centre with lots of shops and restaurants. We stopped for lunch and only had a quick sandwich before going to the ticket office to enquire if we could visit the yacht without booking online. We had no hope that we would be able to visit, but at this time, luck was on our side and they did allow us to gain entry by buying the tickets at the time. The yacht is a very interesting attraction to visit, and you also learn a lot of facts about the life aboard and all that involves having VIPs aboard such a luxury yacht at the time it was in service. Once the visit was over, my legs were like jelly because of too much walking. We walked 17000 steps in one go! So, we decided to take a taxi on the way back to the flat.

Today is the last dinner in Edinburgh and after walking all that, it was good that the restaurant we had booked was on the same street as our flat. The restaurant was “The Gardener’s Cottage” It is in a small cottage on the London Road Gardens. They have a set menu, so there is no choice. However, the menu is very balanced and very well executed. Plates are small but full of flavour. Again, another excellent choice of restaurant on our trip.

Monday

It was time to leave Edinburgh, I felt we could still spend some more time in there as we didn’t go to many places that we would have loved to have gone such as Arthur’s Seat, top of Carton Hill, The Whisk adventure, The Georgian House, and other places. However, we did manage to do a lot and I don’t like to rush things too much as it spoils the enjoyment. We fit what we can, per order of importance on the time we have.

We packed the cars and left Edinburgh at 9 am going south in the direction of York. It is about 4 hours’ drive to get to York from Edinburgh, so we arrived in York at about 1 pm.

York

The Minster Cathedral

This is a city full of history, founded by the Romans, this Medieval city has a lot to offer to the eager history lover and tourists alike. From the middle-aged buildings in The Shambles to the York Minster Cathedral and the medieval walls, the city is very attractive and offers a lot to do and visit. Places such as The Jorvik Centre, York Dungeon, York Castle Museum, National Railway Museum are among some of the most interesting things to visit. There is much more to see and do, but unfortunately, we only had half a day in York, but it deserves much more time than that. We had to pick the things that we most wanted to see.

On arrival we went straight to the Hotel Indigo York that we booked for the night. Check in was only after 3 pm, but we were able to get the parking card to display on the car at the hotel car parking.

We had booked the Jorvik Viking Centre for 2 pm, so we had to hurry a little bit to get there on time, but we’ve made it.

The Jorvik Centre was built on the site where archaeologists discovered the Viking-age city of Jorvik as it stood in 1,000 years ago. It is a ride taking you through the reconstruction of Viking-age streets and the experience of life as it would have been in 10th century York. Very interesting and informative. For the history lovers it is a full platter of information.

After the visit we went back to Hotel Indigo for the check-in. Once checked- in, out we went again.

We walked through The Shambles and through the narrow streets with pretty, little shops in old medieval buildings. We went to The Minster Cathedral, one of the finest medieval buildings in Europe. Very impressive with its 15th century stained glass and stonework. After exploring the centre up and down we settled for drinks at a pub and waited for dinner time booked at “The Cut and Craft”. This is also a steak house and although very good, not at the same level as “The Chophouse” in Edinburgh. Food was very good, and everybody was happy with their choices. After dinner we retired to our last night of the trip.

We will certainly return to York as there is plenty more to see but unfortunately, we did not have anymore time to stay longer.

We left York early in the morning and arrived home by 11 o’clock finishing the trip in a high.

If you find this post helpful, inspirational or just worth sharing, please go ahead and spread the word!

5 responses to “Scotland and England – Whitby, Edinburgh and York by car in 7 days (Covid time and all)”

  1. beautiful weather in Edinburgh! I’ve visited it a long time ago. I liked it very much but even though it was summer we had proper gloomy autumn weather

    Like

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