Saints Journeys: North Yorkshire Abbeys and Churches

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Starting in Whitby, this two-day journey takes in four famous North Yorkshire Abbeys of Whitby, Byland, Rievaulx, and Fountains and two significant churches in Lastingham and Ripon, ending in the town of Ripon on the second day.

Sites to be Visited

Whitby Abbey
Caedmon's Cross
Lastingham Church
Rievaulx Abbey
Byland Abbey
Fountains Abbey
Ripon Cathedral

Journey to the North Yorkshire Abbeys

The four abbeys and two churches may be easily visited in two days as the entire journey is less than 75 miles (120.7 km) long.

Our journey starts in the picturesque town of Whitby. Park near and climb the 199 steps to the bluff area above the town that contains our first site on this journey, the famed Whitby Abbey, site of St. Hilda's 7th Century A.D. double monastery and site of the Synod of Whitby of 664 A.D. that determined the path of Christianity in Britain. It is located at NGR NZ9016011313 The Abbey also has an excellent visitor's center nearby. Lastly, at the top of the stairs, be sure to notice Cademon's Cross that commemorates the famous 7th Century Anglo-Saxon poet at the top of the 199 steps. Also on the bluff is the 11th Century A.D. St. Mary the Virgin Church.

Leaving Whitby on the second day of our journey, we head for our second site: Lastingham Church, associated with the 7th Century St. Cedd and later his brother St. Chad. From Whitby, the church is 22.4 miles (36.1 km) away, much of it through the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, and it is located at NGR SE7274790415. Parking is available near the church. Be sure to visit St. Cedd's crypt downstairs in the church.
Detailed Driving Directions Map.

Our journey's next destination, Rievaulx Abbey, was founded by the Cistercian Order in 1132 A.D. It is a short 14.1 miles (22.7 km) away from Lastingham and located at NGR SE5483978939. Be sure to visit the excellent museum and the tea room before moving on.
Detailed Driving Directions Map.

Our next stop is Byland Abbey, founded as a Savigniac house in 1134 A.D. but later became a Cistercian abbey in 1147 A.D. From Rievaulx, it is a short 9 miles (14.4 km) away and is located at NGR SE5483978939. Park in front of the abbey ruins.
Detailed Driving Directions Map.

Our last abbey is Fountains Abbey, founded in 1132 A.D. by 13 Benedictine monks from St. Mary's Abbey in York. It is 25.1 miles (40.3 km) away from Byland Abbey and located at NGR SE2732768521. After going through city of Ripon, a minor road to the Studley Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in which Fountains Abbey is located.
Detailed Driving Directions Map.

Our last stop is Ripon Cathedral, first built in 672 A.D. by St. Wilfrid and is believed to have been the second stone building built by him in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria. It is in the town of Ripon 4.7 miles (7.6 km) from Fountains Abbey and locared at NGR SE3135871112. In the church, you can visit St. Wilfrid's Crypt.
Detailed Driving Directions Map.

Visitors Information

Visitors information on the saints sites in North Yorkshire we have visited and others not visited on this journey may be found at the following website. General tourist information may be found at the North Yorkshire County Council website.


As of the date of this posting, road directions and conditions are correct. Please check local road conditions, however, for possible changes prior to venturing forth on this journey. A helpful resource for road changes and possible trip interruptions if you are travelling in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland is the AA-UK Route Planner. Another map source that this website uses and that may be useful to you on your journeys is Streetmap UK.

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