Whitby, setting for Dracula's arrival on Britain's shores

Whitby, setting for Dracula's arrival on Britain's shores

Visitors on a national trail will be able to experience gothic horror as they walk in the footsteps of a famous Victorian author.

A free smartphone app will help walkers on part of the Cleveland Way bring to life myths and characters from Bram Stoker’s most famous work Dracula.

Dublin-born Stoker visited Whitby in the last decade of the 19th century and based parts of his novel on what he encountered in the North Yorkshire town.

Two free apps have been created by the Bram Stoker International Film Festival with funding support from the North York Moors National Park Authority, and are the result of months of research by the team to retrace the author’s footsteps during his stay in the historic fishing port in 1890.

The first app brings to life the Viking legend of the phantom Black Dog or Barghest that Stoker heard about during his stay and then adapted for use in the novel.

The starting point for the Barghest Trail is Kettleness, a clifftop location in the North York Moors national park, which was exorcised after a number of sightings of a huge black hound.

Bernie McLinden, senior ranger for the North York Moors National Park Authority, tries out the new Bram Stoker App on the clifftop above Whitby. Photo: Tony Bartholomew

Bernie McLinden, senior ranger for the North York Moors National Park Authority, tries out the new Bram Stoker App on the clifftop above Whitby. Photo: Tony Bartholomew

Then as visitors follow a six-mile route that Stoker walked, along what is now part of the Cleveland Way national trail back to Whitby, the downloaded app uses sound, images and dialogue to digitally relate haunting stories attached to 13 landmarks en-route.

The landmarks include Tate Hill where Stoker saw the wreck of a grounded ship, The Dmitry, on the beach below. This inspired him to create the shipwrecked Russian schooner, The Demeter, from which Dracula jumped ashore in the guise of the black dog.

A second app, Mina’s Trail will launch soon and will capture the Dracula plot by retracing the route taken by one of the heroines, Mina Harker from a guesthouse on the West Cliff to Whitby Abbey.

Both apps include one of the town’s most famous Dracula settings, the 199 Steps which feature when the Black Dog dashes up them after jumping ashore, and when Mina runs up the steps to save her friend from the count’s clutches at St Mary’s Church.

The apps will be available to download to both android phones and other smartphones from the festival website, the Google Play site or from Apple’s iTunes app store.

A short film using actors at this year’s festival is also being made to complement the apps, and will bring to life the story at the various locations in and around Whitby. The film will soon be available on www.thebarghesttrail.com.

Mike McCarthy, director of the festival, said: “While the Barghest Trail is more for those who like a good walk along a beautiful part of the national park coastline, Mina’s Trail is shorter and easier and will be a family-friendly way of introducing this classic tale to a new, younger audience.

“It will enable them to take part in the haunting drama by experiencing the journey from Mina’s viewpoint and encourage them to take photos to see how their experience matches up to the original Dracula plot.

“Importantly, we’re also making sure that both apps, once they have been downloaded, will continue to work, even if the mobile phone signal is intermittent.”

The North York Moors National Park Authority has supported the development of the new apps as part of its local distinctiveness and tourism grant scheme, which supports projects that raise the profile of the North York Moors area and promote its local distinctiveness.

The national park is also providing some promotional support as part of the Sea Life, See Life project funded by the Coastal Communities Fund.

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