Having taken an early break this year and had a week off this week, I decided to visit Whitby on Tuesday 29 March.
It is some time ago since I visited but always parked at Whitby Abbey, wandered around unrestricted and walked down the steps to Whitby.
Imagine my surprise to find what can only be described as a prison wall with locked access gates, a roller shutter door totally out of character with the monument and car park charges for a bit of Tarmac on a cliff nowhere near any tourist attraction which was open.
I myself had only driven 70 miles or so to get there but I was truly ashamed as a British citizen to witness many travellers from abroad in attendance who I assume had interest in the literary connection, walking around the perimeter wall, trying to take a picture of the ruin over the wall or through the gates.
Many of them and myself walked around the perimeter in disbelief trying to gain access and the youth hostel and tea rooms had a steady flow through of confused tourists.
I can only assume the monument, once open to access by all and with a free car park, has become a commercial venture as is the common theme in recent years and control of costs paramount and a priority over genuine tourists who would like to savour the history and grandeur of the abbey.
The consequences of the new out of bounds abbey, I would imagine, would have a significant derogatory effect on the business people in Whitby itself who rely on the tourist trade, as effectively speaking personally and assuming those which had travelled long distances and paid good money, found the main attraction shut.
Surely the responsibility of managing (even as a business) a property of this nature should be recognised before taking it on and then upsetting all the potential customers of the town itself.
I often wonder why visitors from abroad visit the UK as even if they survive the “do not leave valuables in your car” and “thieves operate in this area” signs posted at every car park by our friends in blue as a cost-effective solution to local crime (catching them would need time, money and effort), then paid in excess of £3.00 for an insecure bit of Tarmac on a cliff (and for a fee I would expect perhaps a little security) they get to wander around a wall.
Well done English Heritage, rest assured I certainly won’t be in a rush to return back to Whitby, or the ruin.
Mr D Gardner, Bradford.