On some of our earlier, regular trips to Wakefield (roughly annual pilgrimage to see Trinity play a game of Rugby League; long story) we would venture out during the days to see what we could find within driving distance. A couple of hours away by car, where the River Esk meets the sea on the coast, lies Whitby, a place popularised in the novel Dracula and quite famously associated these days with goths as a result of it.
In March of 2011 we drove from Wakefield to York for the morning, then carried on to Whitby to spend the afternoon. Our first action upon reaching the town was to head towards the imposing ruins of Whitby Abbey on the East Cliff overlooking the place.
A car park is located about 200 metres before the entrance to the abbey and approach on foot is along a narrow lane with views over the wall and across a small lake (or large pond) to the nearby historical site.
Whitby Abbey is run by English Heritage and you can see the opening times and admission prices here: Whitby Abbey Prices and Opening Times. After paying you’re free to explore the grounds of the abbey and get up close to the ruins of the building.
Originally a Christian monastery and then a Benedictine abbey the stone structure was stripped of its religious title in 1540 by King Henry VIII and fell into ruin. Despite taking further damage during shelling by German battlecruisers near the start of the First World War what remains of Whitby Abbey is still an impressive sight on the wild, North Sea headland.
In truth, though, there isn’t an awful lot to actually do at the abbey. Some of the building’s remaining architecture does have an appeal but other than providing some views over the Yorkshire coastline there isn’t a huge amount to see. This, though, might be one of those places where the weather can play an important role. As you can tell, it was very overcast when we visited and also windy with occasional spitting rain, and while this did lend the location an air of imposing menace it also removed any opportunity to simply sit and enjoy the place or take a picnic if you were so inclined.