Fish and Chips at Magpie Cafe, Whitby

The Famous Magpie Cafe in Whitby
The Magpie Cafe in Whitby

We’ve had a couple of long weekends in England and on Good Friday, we decided to take a day trip from Bolton to Whitby.  Despite leaving at 11am sharp, we spent most of the day sitting in traffic and arrived at the famous Magpie Cafe in Whitby just before 2pm.  Of course, the Magpie Cafe is very famous and we waited in line for quite some time before we made it inside.

Whitby Abbey (obscured by sea fret) 
Whitby Abbey (obscured by sea fret)

While the rest of the United Kingdom experienced record high temperatures and blue skies on Friday, Whitby experienced the strangest fog.  It is known as a sea fret and is caused by excess moisture in the air.  The sea fret rolls in from the sea and does not burn away like a normal fog.  It is no wonder that Bram Stoker was inspired to write Dracula in this town!

It was frustrating because my friend Nina pointed over the roof and told me that was where I would see the ruins of Whitby Abbey but I could see nothing.  I had no idea how big or small the place would be, whether it was near and imposing, or far off in the distance.

Magpie Cafe Whitby
Magpie Cafe, Cod & Chips, Haddock & chips and Mint Slice

We finally made it inside to the warmth and welcoming atmosphere of The Magpie Cafe.  We started off our meal with one of our favourite starters: scallops.  For mains, Stephen ordered a large haddock and chips, and I tucked into a small cod and chips.  We complimented the meal with a lovely bottle of German semi-sweet wine, Kreuznacher Kronenberg Kerner Kabinett which the waitress recommended.  Thankfully, Stephen wasn’t driving as he had most of the bottle of wine while the rest of the six of us had a couple of drops!

We spoke to the waitress about the sea fret and she said it had been completely clear that morning as she sat on her balcony at her inland home, watching deer and enjoying a cup of tea.  I would love to be able to spot deer from my balcony, what bliss!

The meal was good but Stephen and I agreed that the fish and chips we ate at Abar Bistro in Portsmouth last year was much better. 

Whitby Fish Market
Whitby Fish Market

The building housing The Magpie Cafe was built in 1750 as a Merchants House and a cafe has been at the premises since about 1939.  It is across the road from the Whitby Fish Market and they always ensure that they have the freshest possible fish.

Parish Church of St Mary in Whitby
Parish Church of St Mary

The sea fret began to fade toward the end of our meal and we could finally see the Parish of St Mary Church on the top of the hill. To the right of the church, you can just about make out the ruins of the Whitby Abbey.

Sea Fret over Whitby Harbour
Sea Fret over Whitby Harbour

Despite the strange weather, there were some perfect photo opportunities and I really liked the feel of this fishing and seaside town. I imagine that the photo about would make a really good jigsaw puzzle!

Streets of Whitby 
The Dracula Experience, Whitby Swing Bridge, Seagulls and Specksioneer

It is no surprise that Whitby is home to the Dracula Experience, as well as the annual Bram Stoker Film Festival and The Whitby Gothic Weekend.  That sort of thing would have been right up my street 15 years ago!

Seagull in Whitby 
Sir Seagull

This seagull very kindly posed for me and even let me snap him from various angles.  It is scary how tame these gulls are and they are not shy to swoop down and pluck your fish and chips from under your nose!

Whitby Harbour in Sea Fret
Eerie Whitby

I love this photo.  Having experienced a sea fret first hand, I absolutely understand how it was that Dracula appeared to materialise out of thin air and the overall spirit and atmosphere of the novels.

Whitby Swing Bridge
Whitby Swing Bridge

The swing bridge at Whitby has stood for over 100 years and was built in 1908. It replaced the previous swing bridge which only allowed a clearance of 45 feet and did not cater for larger steel ships being built further up river. The current bridge is a twin leaf bridge and allows the maximum possible width to river traffic, increasing the clearance to 100 feet.  Although ship building has declined on the river Esk, it is still important to maintain navigation to and from the upper harbour.

The man above was very interested to see what the people below had caught in their haul.  There were many amateur fishermen along the river that day, mostly children!

Copious Whitby
Copious Whitby

It was so nice to visit a town in England that is not in decline and it was good to see that fishing still appears to be a lucrative train for the local fishermen of Whitby.

Fishing in Whitby
Fishing in Whitby

These fishing nets and cages were all over the harbour. 

Whitby Abbey Above Sea Fret in Whitby
Whitby Abbey Above Sea Fret

As the sea fret finally began to clear a little more, we could finally see a bit more of Whitby Abbey and we decided to pile into our car and drive up to the abbey. 

32 comments on "Fish and Chips at Magpie Cafe, Whitby"
  1. Hi Emm! Finally some time to stop by... Wonderful shots, but I don't think I would ever be on a linne for fish & chips... ;))

    Blogtrotter Two is still waiting for you in Amsterdam... Enjoy and have a superb weekend!!

  2. I think the sea fret added to your Whitby experience, Emm! All those delicious Dracula references :D Lovely pics and the fish and chips look good, but I'm glad to hear the Abar is better... it's closer to home! xx

  3. Australians have always eaten fish and chips, originally in newspaper, but eventually in plain white paper :) But not every place makes great fish and chips.

    Whitby Fish Market is the essential ingredient here! The shops need to buy fresh fish, virtually AS it is being pulled out of the ocean. The fishing nets and cages that you showed across the harbour are proof that the local fishing industry is doing well and that people are not being sold frozen crappy stuff.

  4. omg these are fantastic shots! i adore all of them!!

    looks like you had a great time.

    fish and chips...mmmmm, yummy!!

    big hugs


  5. I like your trips. Your blog is day by day more intriguing. I don't know how fish and chips are in Portsmouth but the ones I see in your photos seem veeeeeeeery good! :)

  6. Hi Emm. Wanted to let you know how very much I enjoy your blog. My husband taught at TASIS one summer and my time was spent touring with the Art and Architecture class and Theatre in London group. Tough way to spend a summer. I was able to hit many palaces and cathedrals, Avebury, Stonehenge, Bath and see plays in Stratford-Upon-Avon and London. I love England and miss it so much. Your blog has been so fun to follow. Thank you!

  7. oh, I just love love this visit, these images, this post!

    I grew up near the sea, and seeing your photos I could just smell all the good smells of the see. The picture of the Sea Fret over the harbor was just the perfect scene.

    Thanks for this- glad you had a good trip!

  8. Fish & Chips...ah, I'm jealous! Nice pics.

  9. Hi Emm - sounds like you're becoming a bit of a fish and chip connaisseur! Interesting post. Never been to Whitby myself but looks like a nice place.


    PS - are you looking at traction engines in Dartford this weekend?

  10. I'm really like the photographs you've been taking lately.

    Keep up the great work!

  11. Hi Emm great pics and an equally pleasant venue. Been to the Magpie a few times over the years!

    Perfect Dracula weather too.

  12. I love foggy pictures! These are great. But the fish & chips seem to be missing the mushy peas!

  13. Wow, so many great photos!
    I especially like the picture with the seagull and the sailboats with hazy skies.
    It looks good with fish and ships, but I dare not eat fish abroad:-)
    Hope you have happy days, hugs from Tania

  14. no matter what the weather is like, Whitby looks like a wonderful place to explore. i could almost smell the fish & chips from here. the shot of the seagull is so beautifully captured.

  15. The mist cetainly adds an interesting atmosphere :-) After seeing your photos I'm half disappointed it was clear in Whitby last weekend.

    We didn't make it to Magpies. People were queuing down the street.

    Did you climb the lighthouse?

  16. Lovely :-) And yes Dracula totally belongs there! :D

  17. Thanks for all your nice comments!
    Bless you. Hugs from Tania

  18. I love the misty pictures. I have always fancied taking a trip to Whitby I want to see how it compares to Slains Castle in Cruden Bay, which also lays claim to being the place where Bram Stalker found inspiration for Dracula. And is a very, very spooky place, especially so at night.

    It has been a few years since I last had truly exceptional fish and chips, but having to queue up for a serious amount of time might be a step too far. I guess I was spoilt when I use to live 10 minutes walk from a great chippie back home. Use to get an exceptional Jumbo haddock supper with mushy peas and have change from a fiver...what I would do for some of that right now.

  19. Nice photos! I always find fishing harbours to be really close to photo paradise - countless photo opportunities.
    I got great results in a fishing town of Essaouira, Morocco.

  20. I really like that fog in your pictures. It adds a bit of mystery. What a privilege to eat at such a historical place the food looks delicious!

  21. are just so FAb! ooh i love those wickedly beautiful- foggy photos..dreamy and atmospheric!! Thanks for always taking me on a tour and opening my world..gorgeous and very scenic..beautiful photography!! Shine on!

  22. I think of the Fog movie when I see these types of pictures. Amazing shots Emm. I never knew this town was the inspiration for Dracula. I can certainly see why now.

  23. There's nothing better than fresh fish and chips in a genuine wee fishing village, although I would have ordered the 'stake' just incase Dracula showed up!!

  24. The mist in your photos is so atmospheric! They say Whitby has the best fish and chips in the UK, or so I've heard. I suppose it's a very personal choice.

  25. I do love the photos. Such as London the fogs I see. You don't have to wonder about me and cold whether, I wouldn't ever seek for it on purpose. :-)

  26. Great photos Emm, I like Whitby despite the presence of funny mist and rather odd people in Sunderland shirts. The last time I visited the weather was just like this

  27. @ Trotter: Really? I guess it depends on how hungry you are.

    @ JaPRA: Yeah, I'd definitely recommend a trip down to Portsmouth just for the fish and chips.

    @ Hels: Yes! I remember back in the 70s we ate it wrapped in newspaper. You can definitely go quite wrong with fish and chips. This wasn't bad, it just wasn't that great. I was definitely glad to see the fishing business booming.

    @ Betty: Thank you! Glad you liked them!!

    @ Italo: Heh. I'm glad you like my trips, I do like to share! It is so good to see you online again Italo.

    @ Empress' Mommy: Oooh, sounds like you had a fantastic summer and that ewverything you did was right up my street!

    @ Marion: Awww, thank you! I'm so glad you lked it.

    @ Bluegrassbaobab: Thank you!

    @ Glen: Ha! I don't know about connoisseur but our friends had told us this was the best fish and chips on the British Isles and they weren't! Sadly, no, didn't make it out to the steam engines last weekend. I saw a sign and didn't realise it was on at the time. :(

    @ Phoenix: Thank you!

    @ Mike: oh cool! I like it that others have been there too!

    @ Kathy: The mushy peas were in a massive bowl but Stephen just sulily remarked that they weren't as good as Abar's and so they did not get the photographic treatment.

    @ Spiderdama: Thank you! Yes, it is always a good idea to try keep to 'safe' foods when you are traveling abroad!

    @ Life Ramblings: Thank you! So glad you liked Mr Seagull.

    @ John: Alas, no. We didn't even see the lighthouse to know to visit it. We'll have to return.

    @ Ash: Definitely!

    @ William: Slain's Castle looks exquisite! Given my love of ruins, I will have to visit it!

    @ Travel Photo Blogging: Hmmm, I think this might be one of my first fishing villages....

    @ AVCr8teur: It was a privilege! I love the history in this place!

    @ Kiki: "Dreamy and atmospheric" - I like that! Yes, it was certainly atmospheric. Thank you for joining me on my tours!

    @ Lauren: Yes, Bram Stoer lived there. Luckily, the only sinister thing about the fog was that it interfered with my photography!

    @ Ryan: Ha! That really made me laugh!!

    @ Sheila: It was certainly good (well, it wasn't bad) but I think my friends had built it up too much.

    @ Self Sagacity: I usually don't seek out cold weather either, so I can relate. It was boiing hot all over the country that day!

    @ David: I have a negeative feeling toward Sunderland! My dad nearly missed my birth because Everton was playing Sunderland in the FA Cup final that day!

  28. These photos are divine, and they make me extremly hungry!!

  29. Looks likr typical English weather to go with the bad F&C

  30. the fish and chips look fab. i fancy some now! it is rather foggy isnt it. we have managed to escape it here but been faced with damn showers instead. where has all the sun gone that lasted for about a week!?

  31. The fog actually made the place kinda more interesting!
    Like a movie scene! ;)

  32. @ Sarah: Heh. You should give them a try one day!

    @ Mo: Aaaah, it wasn't bad - just not as good as the place in Portsmouth.

    @ Tina: I try not to reason English weather. It would just make me sad.

    @ London Caller: Definitely! It was so atmospheric.


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