BACK on August 25, bullish summer time, the Echo reported an internet-inspired survey that, of the 60 UK resorts with the best beaches, Whitby cost most for a family day out. It was even dearer than St Ives, goodness knows, and in Sr Ives the seagulls half-inch your ice cream.

A family of four might expect to pay £62.96, the survey added, thus kicking sand into the face of the town’s outraged tourist trappers.

We went last Wednesday via the North Yorkshire Moors Railway – no need to pay Whitby’s claimed average £9 parking charge, but on the debit side a six-inch baking tray for £6.42.

“You can’t get six-inch baking trays anywhere,” says the lady of the house (except in Whitby, obviously.) She also buys a “November” lucky duck. “You have to kiss them goodnight,” she says, and that kisses goodbye to another £3 75.

The NYMR, £29 return from Pickering, is a birthday present, a glorious journey marred only slightly by the absence of the at-seat tea trolley –“the wheels have come off,” the guy says – and the presence of a large dog called Nigel.

If people must keep dogs, shouldn’t there be a law against calling them Nigel?

All around us, well-filled carriages are high on the hope of a fish and chip trip. It remains Whitby’s No 1 attraction, and the NYMR the fryers’ flyer.

THE parish magazine, another 50p on the bill, reports that this year’s was the third warmest and driest Whitby summer since records began in 1951, but that the 3C in the early hours of the 31st was the lowest ever August reading.

Last Wednesday’s the hottest October day for seven years, the place shorts-shrifted and thronged. A 20-minute sea trip is £3, an open-top double decker £5.50, the Dracula Experience £4 and with – “new for 2018” – “Dracula’s female vampires with holographic nymphs flying through the scene”.

Whatever floats your boat, as probably they say on the harbour front over the road.

A restorative ice cream cornet is £2.30. “The seagulls are well behaved in Whitby,” says the girl behind the counter. They may not be very keen on banoffi pie flavour, either.

As the mercury hits 75 degrees, however, the shops are preparing for Christmas. Several have festooned trees, another offers a dozen Christmas cards for 99p and Santa sacks for much the same. A six-inch ceramic Santa is £35.

It’s just five weeks until the official switch-on of the lights and the quayside’s positively scumfished.

A travel agent’s advertises an Indian islands cruise (“inside cabins”) from £1,999, but who needs Indian islands (and cabin fever) when North Yorkshire has an Indian summer. The Glow tanning parlour – “six minutes, £3” – may similarly be bested by nature.

The Little Angel – not to be confused with the “Big” Angel, which is a Wetherspoons – is home both to the Lady Luck micro-brewery and to a sun-blessed beer garden with (if standing on the table) fine views over the estuary.

It’s marvellous out there, house brews with names like Lucky Duck Bitter and Rabbit Foot Pale Ale and another called Dream Catcher. A dream catcher, says the lady, is one of those things that hippy types put in their front windows. Very Whitby.

Since it’s a Wednesday, there’s also 60p off a pint. Good reason to have another before setting sail for a late lunch.

THERE are great shoals of fish and chip places, many hoping also to catch the eye with news of some award or other, though Mister Chips appears content with Jeremy Clarkson’s observation that it was “beyond belief brilliant”.

The most decorated may be the Magpie, there in black and white, outside which at noon folk queue down the steps and half way to Gipsy Rose Thingy’s.

By 2pm the queue’s little shorter. Ceaselessly they gaze upwards, like posthumous Pearly Gates penitents in the half-baked hope of admission.

The Whitby Gazette (£1.25) reports that Trenchers and the Fisherman’s Wife are in the Yorkshire final four of the 2019 National Fish and Chip awards, and if they don’t win that there are plenty more fish in the sea.

Near the Magpie, a restaurant proclaims fish and chips for two and a bottle of Prosecco for £35. Across the swing bridge, Hadley’s offers a “Yorkshire meal deal” for £7.50 and is in danger of giving the old county a good name.

Near it, The Edge tempts with “large” cod and chips with tea or coffee and bread and butter for £9.50, but our thoughts have long been elsewhere.

THE Eating Owt column ran beneath my by-line from 1985 until retirement from full-time employment in 2011. In 1987 we’d had fish and chips at Trenchers – newish, but already acclaimed – almost opposite Whitby railway station and concluded that we didn’t particularly dig it.

Outrage ensued, orchestrated from on high by the Earl of Kimberley (Hailstone House, Cricklade, Wiltshire.) Back then, cod and chips was £3.55 and a Cheddar cheese sandwich £1.65.

Three years later, the column returned – cod and chips £4.85, mushy peas 70p, beer £1.10 – a bit more satisfied, but still swimming against the popular tide. Last Wednesday’s was the first visit since.

It’s a very big place, owned by the Wearside-based company which also has the celebrated Crab and Lobster at Asenby, near Thirsk, and the food franchise for the born-again Spanish City at Whitley Bay. At 2.30pm they’re still queuing, uncomplaining, outside the door.

“Regular” cod and chips is now £12.95, everything else extra. Mushy peas are £1.50, onion rings £2.95, a pot of tea for £1.95. I forget to check the price of a cheese sandwich.

That 1990 column, incidentally, had spotted a notice in a tea room at Middleham: “Pots of tea for one will not be served with two cups.”

Service at Trenchers is slick, bright and wholly admirable. The fish was tasty and generous, the chips not as some of us might prefer – not what folk call chip shop chips – but plump and substantial.

After all these years, it may be time for a little disentrenchment.

THE Whitby Gazette also reports that Karl Wittering, 63, had in 12 hours 54 minutes the previous Sunday completed 199 ascents of the town’s famed 199 steps – though in truth it was 204 because someone miscounted. He began at 4am and ran non-stop. “It was a great day.” he said.

A LAST pint in the Angel Hotel, still the Big Angel to Whitby folk, proves considerably more expensive than any Wetherspoons pub north of the Tees. A pint of Abbot Ale is £2.89, perhaps £1 more than in Darlington.

It can’t spoil the impression that the old place has been traduced, that for the financially straitened this is by no means the last resort.

No last of the summer whine here; Whitby’s off the hook.