North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Whitby in February (you must be joking)
This was a Shearings coach short break holiday that was booked as a surprise for my wife’s birthday. Not too sure why I chose this holiday but we both like Whitby and have been there many times in the summer months so I though “Why not try winter and see the difference”.
Monday 10th February with Shearings coach holidays, it’s an early start. Up at 5am followed by a taxi arriving at 6:15am to take us to the pickup point. Shearings operate by using what are called feeder coaches that pick up from various towns and villages along the route and the feeder coach destination is Normanton for our area. Normanton is based at junction 31 on the M62. After almost 2 ½ hours picking up we arrived at Shearings Normanton interchange where we were dropped off and waited for our main coach to our chosen destination. Normanton was very busy with people from all over the North, East and West bussed in via feeder coaches, I was amazed at how many people were there on that cold February morning and it seemed that everybody was going to different destinations around the country from the far North up in Scotland to the far South, Torquay, Bournemouth etc. So maybe I wasn’t the only one who was crackers booking a holiday in UK during February. The main coach departed Normanton at 10:35am arriving at Whitby at 12:10. A short journey across the North Yorkshire Moors. Our driver was Ian and also on the coach was a second driver Mike who was simply using the coach as transport home because he lived in Whitby. Mike’s knowledge of the route and the area was beneficial because he gave an interesting commentary throughout the journey. The day itself was dry and sunny but of course cold with heavy frosts during the morning. Our hotel was The Royal perched on top of the West Cliff, the rooms were available to us at 3pm. During the 3 hours we had between arriving and being given the key to our room we took a walk around Whitby. Although a lot quieter thatn the summer months there was still a lot of people about enjoying the cold but sunny afternoon. At 3pm we viewed our room No. 101, and we were pleased with our choice, the room was large with two large windows (not double glazed) that overlooked the harbour and St Mary’s church and the abbey ruins. The four poster bed looked great however this was to be untrue, whilst the mattress was very comfortable the wood encasing the mattress made the bed very awkward to get into and out of, very uncomfortable and I would recommend that the hotel chop this four poster up for fire wood it was that bad. The room also had plenty of storage space, there was a 26” TV with freeview, a hairdryer, drink making facilities, a bottle of water and a box of chocolates was supplied. Dinner was served between 6:30 and 8:15. There was a starter, main course, dessert followed by coffee or tea, the choice was reasonable but not exotic. Entertainment on that first evening was ballroom type dancing, bingo followed by more dancing to disco type music. Not really our scene but those who stayed seemed to enjoy themselves.
Tuesday 11th February. A good night’s sleep and an early rise at 7am. Plenty of hot water but the shower cubicle seemed small, hardly enough room to get washed comfortably but we managed. Breakfast was served between 7:30 and 9am. Fruit juice, cereal, muesli or porridge followed by a choice of full English or any combination, also toast, jam and marmalade. The breakfast was served on a large tea plate, seemed small but this was probably enough for most appetites. The weather during the morning was grey overcast with rain showers. Not a good omen, however we had a day trip to the city of Durham, about 60 miles away taking 1 ½ hours over the moors on the coach. The weather had improved on arrival at Durham, later we had clear sky with plenty of sunshine, cold but nice. Durham is a beautiful city with a castle and cathedral. St Cuthbert’s remains are buried in the cathedral. There is also a tower that is open to the public where you can pay £5 to climb the 325 steps to the top for fabulous views over Durham City. Entrance to the cathedral is free however they do ask for a donation and suggest a donation of a minimum of £5. The city itself is very nice but is very hilly which could be awkward if you are not too steady on your pins. If you are hungry look for a small place named “Treats Coffee shop” It is small just a door on Silver Street. Go up the set of stairs to the coffee shop. I highly recommend that you climb the stairs, join the queue and you will find out why it is aptly named Treats. Durham Castle is now residential quarters for the university students. You can still visit but only by joining a guided tour at pre-set times. Late afternoon and we had a leisurely drive back to Whitby. Our driver Ian proved to be just a knowledgeable as Mike, knowledge plus humour made the journey entertaining. The hotel meal this evening was nothing special from my point of view, very small portions and the menu was not what I particularly enjoy. Evenings at the Royal can be dull if you don’t like dancing and playing bingo. I found myself back in the bedroom watching the TV until 9:30 when the guest artist came on in the show lounge. A young guy from Middlesbrough who put on a 45 minute show. A short show for a guest artist but this lad could play guitar and we enjoyed his show. After the show an early night. In bed by 11pm.
Wednesday 12th February. Another decent night’s sleep spoilt only by getting out of that ridiculous bed. Following our shower and breakfast we took a walk, there was a light covering of snow on the ground, it was cold but dry, the forecast for late morning was heavy rain and high winds and as the day progressed the weather man had got it right. The weather was horrendous. Many of you readers may have heard about the famous fish restaurant in Whitby “The Magpie”. Well The Magpie is still trading and still very popular however I noticed a few doors down from the Magpie a fish restaurant named “Quayside” and this restaurant advertises they are the 2014 National Winners, so competition to The Magpie. We chose a fish restaurant named Trenchers which was flooded during the East Coast storms during Dec 2013. Trenchers has been refurbished and they have made a good job of it, the food is fabulas, the batter on their fish melts in your mouth. I would highly recommend Trenchers. One thing to note is that these fish restaurants in Whitby seem to charge extortionate prices. £10 medium and £12 large haddock or cod seems a lot to me. The afternoon was spent at the hotel reading, the weather was too bad to go out, heavy rain and gale force winds. Dinner tonight was what was described as the Gala dinner. Again not to my taste, the food was poor with a poor choice, the difference between a gala dinner and the standard dinner was a slice of melon served between starter and main course. The evening entertainment was as yesterday, however the compere, a guy named Steve Conroy turned out to be the main artist as well. Steve came on to do his act at 9:30 and put he put on a very entertaining show of comedy, song, magic. It turns out Steve was also a professional ballroom dancer, a man of many talents. Well done Steve and thank you for an enjoyable night of entertainment. Thursday 13th February The usual start to the day early rise, shower and breakfast. The weather was fair. At least it was dry and the sun came out, we had a cold but beautiful day. Another coach trip excursion across the moors. This time we visited Goathland. Goathland is the village where “Heartbeat” that famous ITV series was filmed. We were able to see all the places that we had seen on the TV, i.e. – Script’s Garage. The Aidenfield Arms, The Railway Station, Greengrass’s farm etc.
Our next stop was a little village named Thornton Le Dale. This little village was reminiscent of what you may find in the Cotswolds, very pretty. In the village was a small motor museum owned by a guy who not only displays old cars and motor cycles but also restores and sell them, he had some beautiful cars to view and to buy if you had plenty of money. Our next stop was Scarborough via Oliver’s Mount. Oliver’s Mount is a race track which our driver Ian took us around in the coach. We stopped at the top for a marvellous view of Scarborough. Very nice too. At Scarborough we had just over 2 hours free time to look around, 2 hours doesn’t sound very long but it was enough time to get a bite to eat and take a walk down to and along the sea front before using the cliff railway to take us back up to the town centre to the coach park at The Grand Hotel.
A few interesting facts about the Grand Hotel. The hotel was designed by the Hull architect Cuthbert Brodrick and when completed in 1867 was one of the largest hotels in the world. The building is designed around the theme of time: four towers to represent the seasons, 12 floors for the months of the year, 52 chimneys symbolise the weeks, and originally there were 365 bedrooms, one for each day of the year. The hotel itself is in the shape of a 'V' in honour of Queen Victoria. The trip back to Whitby was again entertaining with jokes and stories (fact and fiction) from our driver Ian. The evening meal and entertainment at the hotel was the usual, the guest artist tonight a young lady from Redcar, “Bridie White”. Not a bad singer but not quite as good as advertised and she managed again only 45 minutes. Seems strange that the guest artists only put on one show of 45 minutes.
Friday 14th February. Travel home today, cases packed and at the bedroom door for 8am, vacate our room by 10am and the coach will depart the hotel at 12:30 for our trip back to Normanton. We had a good breakfast followed by one final walk into Whitby, The weather was nice and the walk around the town and the harbour was pleasant enough. 12:30 came quickly and it felt good to be going home. The drive to Normanton was torrential rain most of the way and we arrived at Normanton at 4pm after a stop at York designer outlet for some lunch or retail therapy whichever was needed most. The wait at Normanton was long and painful, again the place was chocker block as coaches arrived from all parts of the country. Our feeder coach eventually set off from Normanton at 5:45pm and arrived in Grimsby at 7:45 pm after dropping off a various towns along the route. A long day, 7 hours plus to travel the 92 miles from Whitby to Grimsby.
Conclusion. 1. The break was pleasant enough although I thought I paid over the odds, people booking last minute in some cases paid almost £250 less than I did. 2. The weather was kind considering it was February. 3. The hotel was okay but it is dated, it needs money spending on it. 4. The hotel staff were excellent, everybody from reception to waiters. The entertainment could be better, the highlight entertainment was Steve Conroy who was very very good. 5. The coach was comfortable and the driver helped make the holiday with his Yorkshire wit and humour, so well done Ian, also Mike at the beginning of our holiday, both these drivers knew their Yorkshire and were entertaining as well as knowledgeable. 6. Would I do it again, probably but I wouldn’t use the feeder coach between Grimsby and Normanton. The trip through all the towns and villages was too long. I would use my own car to travel to Normanton and park my car there for the week. (This would mean I wouldn’t need to get up so early to catch a feeder coach and I could be home after my holiday much quicker that travelling by feeder coach. I live only 61 miles from Normanton so I could be home before I had even left Normanton on a feeder coach). 7. I believe that Shearings do give value for money and I think and for those without their own transport or for those who maybe don’t like flying for whatever reason Shearings is worth considering.
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.
Silver Travel Advisor Recommended Partner: Shearings Coach Holidays