IT is a landmark to look out for on the drive down to one of Yorkshire’s most popular coasts.

Second to ‘who can be the first to spot the sea’ is the quest to pinpoint the almost mystical presence of the iconic ruins dominating Whitby’s headland.

Dating back to 657 Whitby Abbey’s Gothic structure was said to have inspired the author, Bram Stoker, when penning his famous tome, Dracula, which Whitby has benefited from in abundance ever since in the scores of tourists who are keen to discover more about the area’s folklore and legends.

Being one of our favourite coastlines, a trip to Whitby beckoned during the recent Easter bank holiday. Strolling the characteristic streets we’ve ventured along many times before, we arrived at the foot of the 199 steps and joined the throng of folk navigating the steep stone stairway.

Our destination was a fact-finding exploration of the famous Abbey which prompts so much interest and intrigue to the many visitors who flock to this charming enclave of the Yorkshire coast.

Following a walk around the perfectly sculpted and tranquil Abbey gardens boasting herbs inspired from medieval times and harboured by the shadow of this beautiful ecclesiastical structure, we venture through the interactive visitor centre on our journey of discovery around this archaeologically fascinating site.

Local folklore suggests its founder, the abbess St Hild, eradicated the area of evil snakes and serpents by throwing them off the Abbey cliff and turning them into stone which ties in with the Medieval explanation of the spiral fossil ammonites located in rocks below the cliff.

Armed with our ‘ammonite’ tracker - a nifty hand-held device shaped as an ammonite fossil which allows us to track areas around the settlement indicating lost buildings and where finds were unearthed through flashing colour-coded lights- we set out on our fact-finding mission.

The Ammonite Quest is a free interactive experience which, alongside the displays, enables visitors to explore 3,000 years of history here.

It also forms part of the £1.6 million transformation project by English Heritage to improve facilities around the Abbey site which attracts more than 15,000 visitors a year.

Downloading an app to a mobile device allowed us to receive coloured signals to the locations of the finds. Along with a lanyard, containing information about the finds, we were able to piece together Whitby Abbey’s past.

Information boards are also available for those who may not be able to technologically access the details and artefacts showcased in glass cabinets along with interactive information delivered through listening devices in the newly designed museum really bring this educational experience to life.

Strolling the site you cannot comprehend the commitment and craftsmanship that initially went into creating such an architecturally challenging structure.

Sites like Whitby Abbey and indeed other iconic structures here and around the world stand out particularly for the hands-on craftsmanship as well as the passion, patience and perseverance that went into their creation at a time before technology and construction equipment took away the strain.

Such locations, another favourite is York Minster, demand admiration for the sheer fortitude.

These aren’t just sights to behold for their beauty and historical importance, they are places to appreciate and support not only as a reminder to those who cared so much through their commitment in creation, but as a lasting legacy to be preserved for future generations to enjoy and treasure.

For more information, or to get involved, visit

What’s on at Whitby Abbey:-

* Dracula - Saturday May 4 - Monday May 6:- ‘Time Will Tell Theatre’ bring the story of Dracula to life. Includes a display of live birds of prey in free flight and tales of 19th century Falconry.

* Story Telling Weekend:- Saturday May 25 - Monday May 27:- Delve into the world of classic writers such as Bram Stoker, Emily Bronte and Charles Dickens and learn about their literature. There is also the opportunity to enter the children’s writing workshop.

* Myths and Legends:- July 20 - September 1:- Discover life on the high seas by a coastal town such as Whitby.

* Dracula Season:- July 20 - September 1:- Strolling show about Bram Stoker’s legendary gothic story.

* Vikings:- Saturday August 24 - Sunday August 26. Face the marauding Viking as they continue their wave of terror along the north east coast.