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Like Scarborugh, Turner visited the seaside town of Whitby at least twice.  His first visit was in 1801, when he visited Scarbrough too.

However his second visit was in 1822 when he was travelling to Edinburgh from London by sea and he appears to have put in at Whitby along the way.  He made only a few quick sketches of the entrance to the port as he approached from the sea.  Soon after, Turner painted a watercolour for a series of illustrations that he was making on the theme of the Ports of England (Whitby, from The Ports of England 1826-1828 Watercolours, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: CCVIII J).  This shows the abbey and entrance to the harbour from offshore, with the abbey cliff brilliantly lit up by the rays of the setting sun.

Dogs accepted

Turner's Viewpoint

Turner used his visit of 1801 to make a comprehensive survey of Whitby, exploring the views of the abbey and old town from the inner harbour, besides venturing along the piers to take in the views (see from Whitby: The Abbey from the Inner Harbour, Looking South, 'Helmsley' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: LIII 6 to Whitby: Looking across the Inner Harbour to the Abbey, 'Helmsley' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: LIII 9). 

He also strolled along the west beach to take sketches of the distant view of the abbey headland seen beyond the wide breakers rolling in from the north sea.  These included wash studies (Whitby Abbey and Cliffs, from the West, 'Dunbar' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: LIV 84 - 83a and A Pier or Wharf (?at Whitby), with a Ship Beyond, 'Dunbar' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: LIV 86 - 85a) as well as pencil sketches (see, for example, Cliffs, with the Ruins of ?Whitby Abbey Partially Visible Above; A Small Boat in the Foreground and a Quay to the Right, 'Dunbar' sketchbook, Tate Gallery, Finberg number: LIV 91a).

West Cliff is directly above Turner's view on the beach and a good departure point to follow Turner's walk along the beach.

Discover The Landscape

The Turner Trails bench and panel are on New Quay Road (opposite the New Angel Hotel).

Whitby podstroll
Take a Turner Tour around Whitby with your iPod, the 21st century version of a sketchbook/guide. The Turner Trails podstroll will work with any colour-screen iPod. Each podstroll comprises a sequence of images, specifically created for the iPod screen and arranged into a folder that can be easily added to your iPod.

Turner's Coastal Yorkshire

Listen to Episode 3 of our Turner podcast series where Turner expert, Professor David Hill, is joined by Ashley Jackson, one of the country's leading landscape watercolour artists, as they discuss Turner's interest in the Yorkshire coast.  What did Turner enjoy beside the Yorkshire seaside?

The Venue


West Cliff, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO21 3EN

Map reference: NZ886117

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Directions to Whitby:

Follow A171 to Whitby. Follow West Cliff signs.
Parking is available along the West Cliff and the beach can be reached on foot or via the cliff lift during the season.