• LOCATION 40 | Essential Whitby: A Guide to the Town’s Legends, Treasures and Main Sites

    East Cliff

    East Cliff on Whitby audio tour Essential Whitby: A Guide to the Town’s Legends, Treasures and Main Sites

    There's another seating area here and you might want to take a seat.

    Nice view eh? Unless of course you're visitant on a foggy day. If so - I can only apologize.

    You should be able to see a number of sites we've covered on the tour: the Captain Cook Monument, Whale Bones and the tall steeple of the church on Skinner Street.

    With Cook again in your sights I'll tell you about his third voyage of discovery. This was to be his most audacious journey yet as he sought to navigate a north-western passage - a route along the northern coast of North America that would significantly reduce journey times between Britain and the Pacific Ocean.

    Cook commanded the Resolution and another Whitby ship was acquired: the Discovery. The two ships set sail for the South Pacific in 1776. The ships again spent time in the islands in the south of the ocean before heading north to attempt the passage from what is today Alaska. On the journey north Cook was the first European to come across Hawaii.

    From here Cook traveled further north to the Bering Sea but could not find a passage - the world was most likely departing a mini ice age at this time so its likely any journey would be impossible given the ice.

    Cook returned to Hawaii and arrived during a religious festival and received an extremely warm reception. Accounts differ, but it we believe that the Hawaiians considered Cook to be the reincarnation of a God. Ceremonies were held and a harvest festival observed in Cook's honour.

    Cook was determined to find a northwestern passage so again set sail for the coast of Alaska. Not long after departing, the Resolution was damaged and Cook returned to Hawaii.

    Cook returned when the religious festival had ended and, crucially it seems, approached in an anti-clockwise direction. These were bad omens and relations with the Hawaiian people were this time sour.

    A small boat was stolen from one of Cook's ships and in an attempt to have it returned it Cook and his crew attempted to take a number of hostages. This provoked a furious reaction and Cook was pursued back to the beach where his own boat was waiting to take him back to the Resolution. Scrambling into the surf, Cook was clubbed on the head and stabbed to death in the wash. He had gone further than most men alive at that time and yet he was unable to swim.

    Cook's body was taken by the Hawaiians, disemboweled and his flesh removed from the bones. This sounds gruesome but it was considered an honour by the Hawaiians.

    The story of Cook's family is equally tragic. With wife Elizabeth he had six children, but three died in infancy. Two were killed at a relatively young age in the Royal Navy and another died of an illness whilst studying at Cambridge University.

    Head back along Henrietta Street once you've finished enjoying the view and prepare yourself to climb the 199 steps that will be on your left.

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Essential Whitby: A Guide to the Town’s Legends, Treasures and Main Sites