6 spots for a wonderful view of Whitby Abbey

One of my favourite places in Yorkshire is the seaside town of Whitby. It’s charmed visitors for many years with winding streets, cafes and pubs galore and of course the infamous Abbey that dominates so many views of the town.

There has been a religious building on the hill on the East Bank of the River Esk since 657 but the ruin that remains today dates back to the church built during the 13th century.

Author Bram Stoker was inspired by the desolated Abbey on a visit in 1890 and consequently wrote and created the character of Dracula. A visit during the Whitby Goth Weekend will show the lasting impact that Stoker and his eponymous villain have had on the town.

Check out these spots in Whitby for 6 wonderful views to capture the ruined yet imposing Abbey.

1. Behind the lake

Whitby Abbey at sunrise

To the South of (and behind) the Abbey there is a (very small) lake which is a great spot to photograph the Abbey. You can either find this spot by entering the Abbey grounds or taking a walk around the outside walls and sneaking a peak over!

Whitby Abbey at sunset

Whitby Abbey from this location looks beautiful at all times of the day. Come at sunrise for pink tones that soften the outline. At sunset you can experience the Abbey silhouetted against a fiery sky.

Whitby Abbey from behind the lake

2. The Whalebones

On the West Bank of Whitby, on top of the cliffs overhanging the beach, stands the Whitby Whalebones. Originally erected in 1853 (but replaced in the 1990s) the whalebones were a nod to Whitby’s thriving past in the whaling industry.

Sunrise over Whitby from the Whitby whalebones

The whalebones perfectly frame a charming view of Whitby and look especially spectacular at sunrise if you’re willing to wake early enough!

Whitby Abbey and the Church of St Mary through the whalebones

3. From the A171 road bridge

It might not sound like the most glamorous location (and to be honest it’s not) but the view from the A171 road bridge that cuts across the edge of Whitby and over the River Esk is absolutely stunning. We raced back to Whitby from an afternoon in Staithes in time to catch this golden hour glow over the town.

Beautiful Whitby in the golden hour

I really love the view from this bridge as it shows the three layers of Whitby, the boats in the harbour nodding to its harbourside heritage past, the typical North Yorkshire Coast orange tiled roofs and the Gothic Abbey looking down over the scene.

Layers of Whitby from the A90 road bridge

4. Youth Hostel Gardens

Surely there aren’t many Youth Hostels in England with a more lovely view than the Whitby Youth Hostel. There’s a cafe here to grab a coffee and a cake which will be well deserved after walking up the 199 steps from the cobbled streets below. Wonder into the gardens of the Youth Hostel and look back over the wall for a side profile view of the Abbey, the arches cutting through to the sky behind.

The Abbey in profile from the Youth Hostel Gardens

5. East Terrace benches

Along East Terrace, on the West Bank of Whitby there are a number of benches. They are a perfect spot to give your legs a rest from exploring the town and contemplate the history that is captured within the view that lies before you.

Views across Whitby

In front of the Abbey stands the church of St Mary’s. Founded in the 12th century, it’s well worth a visit. From the graveyard grounds you can look back to this very spot and watch the boats coming and going down the River Esk and out to sea. Enter into the interior and discover a church like you have never seen before. The church is filled with boxes rather than pews with the pulpit at the centre.

Looking across to Whitby’s East Bank

6. Inside the Abbey

The best way to appreciate the size and scale of the magnificent Abbey is to step inside and take a step back in time.

Walking through the Abbey

Owned by Historic England, check their website for opening timings to make sure you’re not disappointed during your visit to Whitby. Over the Summer there are live performances of Dracula in the Abbey Grounds so come with a picnic and blanket and hope that the sun stays out for the afternoon!

Beautiful architecture

If you’re looking for more things to do in Whitby then check out my post 15 ways to spend a weekend in Whitby for some inspiration!

Cat x

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