An unholy pilgrimage on the Whitby Way

You don’t need to be a believer to have a transcendent experience on this Yorkshire walking route, finds Daniel Stables

Thursday 04 March 2021 15:51
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<p>The spectral ruins of Whitby Abbey</p>

The spectral ruins of Whitby Abbey

The autumn sunlight glimmered in York Minster’s West Window, picking out dancing shards of purple and gold in the stained glass. They call this immaculate confection the Heart of Yorkshire – which, appropriately enough, is exactly where I was heading. With international travel curtailed, I was forced to seek adventures closer to home, and this was my latest effort: vaguely following a 70-mile pilgrimage route from York Minster to the spectral ruins of Whitby Abbey.

I’m not religious, but the Whitby Way’s appeal far transcends the purview of the pious pilgrim. The beauty of the Yorkshire countryside is enough to induce anyone into a dazed reverie, but there’s also folklore and history haunting every corner of the route, much of it distinctly unholy – culminating at Whitby, where some strange spirit impelled Bram Stoker to pen his Gothic masterwork, Dracula.

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