The Fascinating History Behind How Whitby’s 199 Steps Became So Famous

The Fascinating History Behind How Whitby’s 199 Steps Became So Famous

One of Whitby’s oldest attractions is its 199 Whitby Abbey steps, which visitors have been challenging themselves to climb for centuries.

Whitby is the jewel of the Yorkshire Coast. Visitors can trade their hectic city life for a bustling seaside town that’s full of life. Picturesque unspoilt seaside views, historic monuments and tasty fish & chips are some of the reasons that entice people to the town.

The 199 steps are found in Whitby and were made famous due to the connection with Bram Stoker’s famous novel Dracula. Leading up to Whitby’s windswept headland and the dramatic Whitby Abbey ruins it always had a link to the Gothic culture.

Check out our journey up all 199 steps below:

Why are the steps?

The 199 steps which are sometimes referred to as Jacob’s Ladder, up until around 1774 were originally wooden steps but were replaced with 103 tonnes of stone from Sneaton. The flight of stairs was seen as a challenge to determine pilgrim Christian beliefs as they head up to Whitby Abbey.

It was debated in the 18th and 19th centuries about the number of steps with some historians believing there to be 190, and some guide book stating 194 until 1877 after a restoration of the iconic steps a church warden recorded the number as 199.

Where in the town are the 199 steps?

199 Steps Whitby
Credit: Unsplash

The 199 steps can be found in between the Old Town and St Mary’s Church in Whitby, North Yorkshire. Head over to the River Esk to the eastern side of Whitby where you’ll wind through the streets passed Sanders Yard Bistro, up toward the Duke of York turning right just before it.

If, like us, you’re thinking that the stairs might be too much of a challenge for you, you’ll be happy to know that there are intervals where you can take a break as you climb up the historic steps, which should take you around ten minutes to ascend.

It took us around five or so minutes to climb the steps whilst enjoying the panoramic views on offer on the way up! We took a couple of stops for a breather and to enjoy the view, but found the steps weren’t as steep as we’d though.

Read More: These Iconic Whitby Fish & Chips Have People Flocking To The Seaside Town

Why bother climbing the 199 Steps?

199 Steps Whitby
Credit: Unsplash

If being part of a historical tradition that goes back centuries isn’t as big of a pull that you need to give the steps a go then rest assured that once you reach the top, the beautiful 11th century Whitby Abbey ruin is the spectacle to behold. It’s an architectural wonder that sits high above the whole town.

Head round to the Whitby Brewery for a well-earned pint after taking on the stairs that inspired Dracula. Instead of sipping on blood like the ol’ Count, you can enjoy some tasty ales as you prepare yourself to descend back down to the town below.

If you’d like to know what to do next once you’ve made your way down the popular tourist attraction, why not check out our guide to a Whitby here.

Read More: 10 Of The Best Fish And Chip Shops In Whitby You Need To Try

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