Explore Yorkshire’s Many Sides

In 2002, Whitby's historic harbour thronged with excited Aussies eager to snatch a glimpse of the Endeavour as it sailed into Captain Cook's hometown.  When I visited, though, there was just the odd flip-flop-wearing pilgrim lounging outside the Captain Cook museum; the town's cobbles swarmed instead with black-haired twentysomethings dressed in petticoats and top hats.

This macabre bunch, with their black nails, thick mascara, and morbid-looking jet-jewellery synonymous with the town, flock to Whitby twice a year for a festival celebrating its unlikely connection to a certain Transylvanian court.

Dark side 

Dressed in their Victorian finery, the Goths make the calf-aching climb up the 199 steps that snake up to the windswept graveyard high above the town, drawing bemused looks from holidaymakers.

It is said that Whitby's spooky hilltop cemetery and crumbling abbey were the inspiration for Bram Stocker's legendary Dracula character. The Victorian author envisaged Whitby's dimly lit streets as the perfect stalking ground for a blood-sucking vampire on the lookout for its next victim.

Bump in the night 

Quirky family stores selling Dracula memorabilia and Halloween decorations sit side by side with the obligatory seaside bucket-and-spade shops on the narrow tumbling lanes that lead from the harbour to the base of the mount.

When darkness falls, the night airings with spine-chilling screams as the Dracula-inspired walking tours swing into action. As the festival gets underway, though, thundering basslines help muffle the distant shrieks. 

Hidden gems 

Whitby is typical of the type of eccentric town found all over Yorkshire - each of which has its own unusual attractions and festivals. The best way to explore the country is to set up base in York. From here you can strike out and experience some lesser-known treats, such as the market town of Beverly, a 45-minute drive east.

This pretty town has a strange mix of historic buildings, neat pavement cafes, and wallet-friendly boutiques and jewellers. But it's Beverly 's unusual watering hole, the White Horse, which gets my attention.

This bizarre pub refused to embrace the light bulb and is still lit by gas lamps. It's a romantic idea, but the combination of poor lighting and uneven period flooring makes a trip to the toilets not too dissimilar to a ride on a fairground fun house.  

Romantic side 

In the opposite direction to Beverly is the brooding, romantic countryside of Bronte Country, with its lonely moors taken straight from the pages of Wuthering Heights.

Ah its heart is Haworth, the rolling village where sisters Anne, Charlotte and Emily Bronte once lived.

Haworth has been painstakingly maintained to look as it did when the literary icons lived in the area - "granny" bikes lean against old-fashioned shop windows, cats dawdle across traffic-free cobbled lanes. You could be forgiven for thinking you've gate crashed a Hovis advert.

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