VisitEngland's Katie Rowe combines seaside kitsch with country estate class on the North Yorkshire coast...I’m a big fan of Whitby. It embodies everything I love about the English seaside. Polite queues for much talked-about fish and chips from Magpie’s served by family members with tattoos of the black and white corvidae on their arms. Glittering arcades lining the harbour front and narrow streets stacked with independent shops. A masterful replica of Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour venturing out to sea.
The famous explorer lived here for nine years – his letters detailing his exotic adventures are on display at the Captain Cook Museum and make a fascinating read. But it’s Whitby's 13th-century abbey that really steals the show. Thought to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this bewitching icon sits high up on windswept headlands overlooking the North Sea. While Whitby is close to many a goth’s heart and mine, I was also here to discover a more sophisticated side of North Yorkshire. Tucked away just a few miles from Whitby's bustling harbour is the Raithwaite Estate.
With 80 acres of mature woodlands surrounding a honey-stone country retreat, at first glance, I’d never have guessed that it’s relatively new to the scene. But once I’d checked in at the swish reception and dropped my bags into a huge room with its own private entrance from the gardens, I knew I was in contemporary heaven. My room had all the modern luxuries a city girl could need plus a bed I didn’t want to leave... well, that was until I spotted the gardens from the window and remembered there was an indoor pool, sauna and steam room waiting for me.
After a dip in the pool, I headed out into lavender-scented gardens sloping down to a river that winds its way into woodlands and gives way to a large lake - the perfect backdrop for a country wedding. Making my way through, I passed a weird-looking group of farm animals - llamas, I thought. In fact they were a family of alpacas. Who knew Yorkshire was so exotic?
Raithwaite’s star feature, a six-bedroomed luxurious lake house, looks out to the herd of alpacas and over the fishing lake where you’re welcome to throw your rod in. Along with fishing, Raithwaite offers other country pursuits such as shooting and horse riding while Whitby Golf Course, overlooking Sandsend, is just a putt away. Play a match here and you’ll have staggering views of the coastline from every hole. All the above is wasted on someone like me who classes finding a cosy pub after an hour’s walk as a country pursuit. I came across The Beehive Inne, a charming village pub where original decorative features and friendly locals go hand-in-hand.
Raithwaite has also given me another reason for needing a Labrador. There are pooch-friendly club rooms at The Keep and I could just imagine rambling around the estate, wellies on, playing a long game of fetch. Exhaustive "country pursuits" completed, dinner was on my mind. The waiter at Brace Restaurant had to help me choose my main as I couldn’t decide between the lamb and the fillet of steak accompanied with carbonara gnocchi. She made a good choice. Mr Fostergill’s Pickering Lamb was succulent - washed down with a robust red - and didn’t spend very long on my plate.
Breakfast here is also on the indulgent side. In fact it's probably the most lavish buffet I’ve come across. Grey slates stacked with bright orange hot smoked salmon, three different types of local honey to smother on freshly baked bread, fat sausages - again from a local butcher, and even a chef on hand in the centre of it all to cook your eggs, just how you like them. What better way to end my stay. Book an indulgent weekend and experience the Raithwate Estate for yourself with a Magical Christmas Package.
Disclaimer: Katie stayed at the Raithwaite Estate as part of a press trip hosted by Luxe PR in August 2013.
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