A vegan weekend in Whitby, North Yorkshire
A seaside town steeped in history, Whitby on the Yorkshire Coast is a pretty and atmospheric place in which to spend a weekend.
Driving from Leeds took around an hour and forty minutes, and the views as we passed through the moors and descended into the town were fantastic.
We stayed at the Riviera Guest House on Crescent Terrace near the West Cliff, whose owners were happy to accommodate us by providing soya milk and a tasty vegan cooked breakfast (their vegetarian breakfast is entirely vegan when ordered without eggs).
While there aren’t any dedicated vegetarian or vegan restaurants in Whitby, thankfully we managed to find decent vegan options in regular places. As Whitby is a fishing town it naturally has a large number of fish and chip shops, but we saw one which fries chips in vegetable oil – Robertson’s, on the left after you cross the bridge. It’s always good to see chip shops that use vegetable oil, because many in Yorkshire fry in beef dripping (cow fat, in other words) – which means the chips aren’t even vegetarian, let alone vegan. (note: Robertson’s have confirmed to me that they fry chips separately from the fish and meat products, but a reader has told me that other items labelled vegetarian on their menu may in fact be fried in the same oil as the fish – making them non-vegan and non-vegetarian. Please check this out for yourself before ordering).
After a bracing walk along the windswept beach, where we spotted a starfish in a shallow pool, we headed to The Jolly Sailor on Saint Ann’s Staith along the waterfront. The Jolly Sailor is an old fashioned pub decorated with nautical pictures and ornaments, and it’s also a Samuel Smith’s, where the beers are not only drinkable and cheap, but also pretty much entirely vegan. Sam Smith’s pubs also have real log fires, and a pint of Extra Stout and a roaring blaze warmed us up nicely.
Whilst I liked their beer I wasn’t too keen on eating in The Jolly Sailor (though Sam Smith’s do offer an entirely vegan meal – the sweet potato curry), and so we headed to the Passage To India on Windsor Terrace, next to the train station. After checking it was dairy free I ordered the vegetable bhuna with pilau rice and a couple of chapatis; the curry was a bit oily, but certainly not the worst I’ve ever eaten. The restaurant also serves Cobra, a smooth beer that goes really well with curry and is, of course, vegan.
The next morning the weather had improved and we decided to walk to Robin Hood’s Bay, a village that’s a decent six and a half miles hike away across the cliffs. Climbing the 199 steps and passing the Church of Saint Mary and its graveyard made famous by Bram Stoker’s legendary bloodsucker Dracula, our walk began near the impressive ruined Benedictine Abbey on the East Cliff.
The sea views as we walked along the clifftops were spectacular, though the powerful winds made the hike slightly treacherous and we were glad to reach Robin Hood’s Bay, with its scenic, sweeping seashore and cluster of cute cottages. Wandering through the quaint old village we were amused to read about a naughty blackbird, who apparently has rather a taste for apples and pears.
Whilst waiting for the bus back to Whitby (which leaves from Thorpe Lane at half past the hour) we met a very friendly cat, who was very keen to be fussed over and petted.
After the hike we were quite hungry, and in search of pizza we headed to Moutreys, located on the first right over the swing bridge, on Grape Lane. Moutreys have a number of vegetarian options and ordering the Frutti di Terra pizza without mozarella (its other toppings are tomato, roast Italian vegetables, artichoke, red onions, olives, garlic and herbs) ensured it was vegan. The pizza, cooked in a wood fire oven, was very good – though guaranteed to deter Dracula, as it was liberally topped with garlic.
Before heading back to our guest house we had time for a pint at the other Sam Smith’s in Whitby, The Plough Inn on Baxtergate – the pub isn’t as cosy as the smaller Jolly Sailor, but it’s certainly warm and welcoming.
We had a nice time in Whitby, despite the rather cold and blustery weather, and I’d definitely recommend a visit to this charming coastal town.
Do you know of any other places for vegan food and drink in and around Whitby? Please let me know in the comments below.