Searching for Dracula: a Yorkshire hike to sink your teeth into

Peter Elia chases Dracula’s gothic tentacles on a hike through northern Yorkshire’s prettiest (and darkest) villages

Monday 05 July 2021 14:49 BST
Whitby Abbey, which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Whitby Abbey, which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Peter Elia)

I gaze up in eerie satisfaction at the skeletal ruins of Whitby Abbey, the 13th-century structure looming over the bay from its nightmarishly high position on the headland. After a month’s stay in 1890, it inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, possibly the most famous vampire novel of all time. As a lifelong Dracula fan and avid hiker, it seems only fitting to combine both interests and set out on a dark pilgrimage to uncover Stoker's Whitby.

Over two days, I'm walking the 18 miles from the village of Staithes to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Yorkshire coast. This trail forms part of the 108-mile Cleveland Way, which starts in the Yorkshire Moors and finishes covering a large part of the county’s coastline. Whitby is on the route, and I plan to stay the night, which also conveniently breaks up the hike.

I start day one’s 11-mile hike in the gorgeous village of Staithes, a cluster of fishermen’s cottages clinging to the hillside above its cosy harbour. I find myself in no real rush to leave, and instead head for Dotty’s Vintage Tearoom for a takeaway coffee and scone as I watch the colourful fishing boats (called Cobles) drift by. I could easily spend the rest of the morning here, but Whitby is calling my name.

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