The Guided Tour of Whitby - With a Difference
It is impossible to run a guided walk of Whitby without delving deeply into its relationship with the sea and surrounding landscape. This is a place that was forged from the mud, blood, rocks and oceans of existence..bent, bowed, subjugated and honed by the elemental forces of nature. It is a living mythology.
This is a storied land and Earth, the blue child of a luminous cosmos. Our ancestors used to drink down the moon and worship all that was, on this ancient, green land. They lived in old time, deep time, long before this oldest of archetypes was trapped by clocks. Magical realms were intrinsic in the natural world and nature was regarded as a temple. Trees were the oldest living beings and treated as sources of great wisdom. There were trees for sermons, trees for weddings and trees for witches. Nobles of the wood were Oak, Hazel, Holly, Rowan, Wild Apple, Cherry and Yew; Elm, Ash and Beech - all had a wisdom of their own.
Whitby is surrounded by a wild high moor that was once covered in royal forest and teemed with wildlife. Fawn, stag, wolf, boar, wild bear, eagle, hawk, raven, crow. Deep down in the Esk valley grew thick and ancient oak woodlands, the treetops a green glow lantern for the sweet waters of a salmon river tumbling its way to the sea.
Dinosaur toothed cliffs protrude either side of a river estuary that offered safe harbour to ships sailing into Whitby from the four corners of the Earth. They came from the spice trails of India and the South Seas, up from Europe and North Africa. Men would gaze from the deck towards the tiny town nestled in the cleft of the cliffs, below the imposing site of Hilda's early monastery and the great Benedictine Abbey, later built by our Norman invaders.
Whitby, a town repeatedly invaded by conquering armies - Romans, Anglo Saxons, Vikings, Normans. A town that never surrendered easily and yet was always bowed in deep respect before the elemental forces of nature. The sea taught them of her ways and wind, rain, river and stars were referred to for wisdom and conversation. Our ancestors knew how to listen to the murmurings of non human language.
Stories echo down the years, back before clock time and into the beyond. There are folktales, histories and legends specific to Whitby and the North York Moors, from dinosaurs to the modern age; from St. Hilda to Hobs, barguest hound to benedictine abbey, jet to whaling, ship building to great exploration; from pirates to smugglers, old pannier trails and hidden caves; spirits, fairy folk and the little people, ghosts and the supernatural; from Dracula to the Bridge of Dread. Tales of ancient burial mounds atop a bleak moor, ghosts of murdered men, stories of hallowed hills, days of Druids and sacred groves, times of witchcraft and deep superstition. This Guided Walking Tour of Whitby aims to keep these stories alive and to be a cultural custodian of folklore for this most unique, extraordinary, fascinating and wildly beautiful place. Above all it is the aim of this tour, not only to entertain, inspire and astound, but also to reconnect us with land, sea and sky, with myths and our own wild magical nature, with our own soulskin and with that in us which is not and never has been separate from this sacred earth.