The Saltersgate Inn, Myths, Legends And The Saltersgate Inn Today

While sceptics will simply brush off the myths and legends as folklore surrounding the Saltersgate Inn. That's not the case for the plenty of locals who truly believe that there is something sinister about the Inn. We discuss the myths and legends of the Satersgate Inn.

If you travel along the Hole of Horcum, on a road referred to as the Devil’s Elbow stands the remains of a pub that once brimmed with people and buzzed with life. Made famous for its rich history in smuggling, the Saltersgate Inn is also the setting for many different horror stories. A lot of these horror stories originate from the fire that was kept burning for 200 years.

Sceptics argue that the fire was only kept burning to be a warm welcome for any travellers who turned up during the day or night but the locals don't quite agree, here's why…

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Saltersgate Inn
The Saltersgate Inn 

Our first story 

Before it was known as the Saltersgate Inn, it was known as the Waggon and Horses Inn. All kinds of characters would frequent this Inn, some seeking the warmth of a fire and a great beer on a cold night, others to rest up before returning on their journeys.

It is said that one night during a harrowing storm, the Devil just so happened to be passing by and like the travelling folk before, the Devil was hoping to seek refuge in the warmth and cosiness of the Inn.

However, retiring at the Inn at that time was a priest, he could feel a shift in the energy change within the Inn and identified the evil that was lurking in his presence as the Devil. Fearlessly, he jumped to his feet and tried with all his might to rid the Devil from the Inn with an exorcism, but he failed.

The landlord had been watching what was going on and bravely decided to intervene. Eventually, the landlord had much more luck than the priest and overcame the Devil. Some people believe that the landlord set the Devil on fire using peat, where others suggest that the fire was set and the Devil was caught up in the smoke.

Whatever you believe only one fact remains the same if the fire goes out the Devil will return to Whitby and the Saltersgate Inn (Wagon and Horses) to seek revenge and wreak havoc on the innocent and unsuspecting locals.

Our Second Story

For this story, the exact date is unknown however we believe it is set roughly around the year 1800. Salt Tax during this time was extortionately high, the highest it had been in history. Noted throughout history, when a tax is high people will find a way to avoid it. This was simply another tax that people tried to avoid.

It is believed that many smugglers and fishermen began to take advantage of the remote location and isolation of the Saltersgate Inn (Wagon and Horses). So that they could continue on their trade by illegally salting their fish. This was important as it kept their fish fresh to transport around the country.

Large amounts of salt were stashed between the walls in the Saltersgate Inn, more so around the fire to keep the salt dry and ready for quick and immediate use.

Late one evening after a full day of fishing, a coach full of fishermen from Robin Hood's Bay began their journey across the haunting, lonely moors armed with their catches. Ready to salt them at the Saltersgate Inn (Wagon and Horses).

The fishermen preferred to travel during the evening under the cover of darkness so their illegal activities would go undetected. It was custom at the Saltersgate Inn for a light to be lit in the small window facing the South to warn smugglers of Excise Officers, if there was no light it meant that it was safe to enter.

During this particular evening as the fishermen approached the Inn there was no light to be seen in the window so assuming it was safe they continued on into the Inn. However, the fishermen and the landlords didn’t know there was a single Excise Officer in their midst that had managed to go undetected as he relentlessly tried to collect evidence of the illegal activity.

The officer sneaked down to the cellar and caught the fishermen in the act, there was no escaping this and the culprits panicked, knowing that if they were caught they would be tried for murder and hung. So a fight broke out between the men and ended grotesquely when the landlord of the Inn got involved and hit the Excise Officer over the head with a large rock. His skull was cracked and he was killed instantly. So the Excise Officer? He is said to be still buried underneath the fireplace and no one was ever brought to justice for his murder. He was just another person who had gotten lost in the lonely moors.

So remember that fire that burnt for 200 years? Was it there to welcome guests or, did it really conceal a body?

The Saltersgate Inn Today 

In more recent time the Saltersgate Inn used to be a great hikers’ pub, serving hearty pub food and a spectacular well-earned pint. Unfortunately trade passing by diminished with the centuries, in modern times it's not really a hardship to drive the extra twenty minutes into Whitby.

The community around it, which at one time included a school and a church has now disappeared or fell into ruin so the business as well just faded away. 

The demolition site. Picture by Sally Gaden
The demolition site. Picture by Sally Gaden

The pub was pulled down in September 2018 in order for a single storey cafe and taproom to be built in its place. Currently, no building work has begun.

Let us know any of your own stories you may have heard about this legendary Inn in the comments.

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