Watching the sunrise or sunset is something I consider one of the simplest joys in life. It’s a great way to start your day or a way to end on a high. So for anyone looking for the best spots in and around Sunderland to enjoy it, here is a list full of tried and tested places.
When I was younger I was told that watching it heals your soul, and that’s something I stand by to this day. Whenever I get the chance to see it I jump on it. In the winter around the 21st December (the shortest day) the sunrises at around 8:30 and sets just after 3:30 so really this celestial event is at very sociable hours!
In my opinion, great vantage locations need to have at least one of these three features: Hight, Coast or Clear Sky. The best way to experience the sunset or sunrise is by seeing as much of the sky as possible and these three features will aid in that.
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So without further ado, let’s dive into the best places in and around Sunderland to watch the Sunset or Sunrise
Obviously, height is an important element, and being able to see the horizon is a bit of a necessity to really enjoy the suns movements.
There is an amazing walk you can do which links Cleadon Hills to Whitburn Mill. Pair this with a sunrise or sunset around the time you’re up on the hills at Cleadon and you’ve got yourself a great vantage point. Especially this time of year with the low sun. The sun will set over the other side of the city and you’ll be able to see the whole of Sunderland from the top.
For a sunset, this is my top recommendation!
Although it can be a little sketchy after hours (or in broad daylight for that matter), the top of Mowbray park does have a good bit of elevation where you can capture some really great views over the city. Especially in winter when the thick trees in the park are thinner without their leaves.
If you want to read more about Sunderland’s great parks then have a look at my post which lists the 6 best and why! In there it will also tell you about the things to do in Mowbray and the best places to park.
I mean, I’m not sure I need to explain this one…
Other than Cleadon it’s also a great place to watch either the sunrise or set, although again I would recommend the setting of the sun for this one. Just because I feel you will get the best out of that.
Tunstall offered great views over the city from the coast to the Stadium and the Northern Spire.
My only issue with Tunstall Hill is parking. There is a little road up from the Hope Road to a small car park, however, this road is pretty much single file traffic and a bit of a nightmare. Therefore I would have to recommend parking in the nearby streets and walking. But again this can be dangerous as the hope road is a fast road and I hate strangers parking outside my house and don’t like telling others to do so.
So, do whichever you feel more comfortable with but please be careful and considerate when doing so!
If you merely want to see the beautiful colours in the sky then Burdon might be a really good spot, granted that you don’t mind being in the middle of nowhere. Along Burdon Road, there are a couple of laybys on the city side of the road which offers full panoramic views of the city. From up here, Penshaw looks so small and
It has been a very long time since I went to the top of the Ski Slope. But I have so many fond memories of it from my childhood, whether it was sledging down it or rolling down It in the summer (innocently oblivious to the vast amount of dog shit on it!). However, during one of the many lockdowns we did climb up to watch the sunset and the view was much better than I remember. Unfortunately, though I don’t seem to have any kind of photo of this one.
There is a good car park here though which is just a short walk from the hill. Postcode: SR3 1PD
How could I not talk about this local icon? Penshaw Monument is arguably the most mackem place in the whole city (perhaps only second to Roker Pier and Lighthouse?).
This is possibly the best place on this list to capture the colours in the sky, especially if you get the columns of the monument in with the shot!
The best place to park is across the street in Herrington Country Park. There are plenty of free spaces here and it is just a short walk over to the monument. Alternatively, there is some on-street parking on the monument side just before you get to Penshaw tearooms.
Postcode: DH4 7NJ
In my opinion, the best places to watch the sunrise are here on our coast, whereas with the sunset, I would go somewhere high up. But that’s just my preference!
I mean obviously, Roker and Seaburn’s beaches are on this list. Last summer I went to Roker to watch the sunrise and absolutely loved it! I highly recommend it because you can get some really beautiful shots with the lighthouse in. Or if you aren’t interested in taking photos it is generally a really beautiful place to be on a morning.
I especially recommend Roker because the car park down in the blockyard is free before 8am so you don’t have to worry about paying for parking. Postcode: SR6 0PR
This is another of my favourite places to watch the sunrise, and I have caught some really beautiful sunsets from up on the clifftop here too. Noses point and blast beach are both beautiful places to visit regardless of the sun and I do have a guide to visiting here on mackemlife.
The car park here at Noses Point is free and just a short walk down a steep hill to blast beach. Postcode: SR7 7PS
For those who have been following Mackem Life since the pandemic first hit, you’ll know of my love of Ryhope Beach and its cliff tops. During the lockdown, we went for a walk there just about every single day. It was the only piece of comfort we had and since going back to work we haven’t really been down.
However, it is a really beautiful place to visit and a little out of the way if you want to avoid loads of people! The best place to park is at the tunnel next to Ryhope Village Green, Postcode: SR2 0NR
Hendon Beach and Clifftops
Another great coastal area although I cannot comment on the nature of how safe it is on a morning. I know that the promenade here isn’t very well lit and might be a bit dangerous in the dark.
It’s been a little while since I visited Hendon Beach but I do remember that there was a decent enough car park with access down to the beach and also to the path along the cliffs. Postcode: SR2 8QR
I often visit Seaham Beach in the morning to watch the sunrise as it is so close to where I live. Also because there are so many great car parks down here for you to park in and a great stretch of beach and promenade to walk on. Plus, you’re never alone as there are always loads of dog walkers down here so it feels generally safe.
The sunsets from Seaham are also generally beautiful too because you can see so much of the sky and the changing of the colours!
I do have a full guide to visiting the seafront here on mackemlife.
Although Whitburn is a little further along and is technically South Tyneside, we’re gonna let that slide because of how beautiful this stretch of coastline is. From Whitburn to South Shields there are many beautiful elements to capture the sunrise with such as Souter Lighthouse, Marsden Rock, Whitburn Mill even the Groyne at South Shields!
Again, if you’re looking for the best places to park along here and other things to see and do then check out the blog post I have written about this full stretch of coastline here.
Big Sky Areas
So this might be an odd one, but basically, the key to capturing a great sunrise or sunset is be seeing a huge amount of the sky. Thus, ‘big sky areas’. So here are just some of the ones I think are great.
Especially if you have any of the bridges in view! There is a great path from Roker Marina all the way up to the New Northern Spire bridge which is ideal for walking along and taking in the sunset or rise (although I think because of geography the sunset will be slightly better here).
As always, I do have a blog post that is full of the history of the bridges over the wear and then recommendations on where to park and a great walking route to get the best out of the area which you can view here.
Herrington Country Park
I did briefly mention Penshaw Monument earlier which of course Herrington Country Park sits in the shadow of. This park is huge and offers loads of great big sky places where you can thoroughly enjoy the sunrise or sunset. My personal favourite will be from the top of the mini stone henge display that they have.
Parking is free in the park and is a great place to visit regardless of the suns movements.
This is another great spot with big sky energy. I especially love capturing the sky change colours with the shadows of trees in too. I find it gives real dimension to any photo. Or if you just want to experience it, then I still think it gives more perspective of the sky.
For Barnes Park I think the best place is up on the tip where the Apple seat art installation thing is.
Although, another great place would be on the huge football fields where I imagine you can capture the beautiful colours very easily.
And that summarises my guide to capturing the sunrise and sunset in Sunderland. I do really hope you have enjoyed this post and if you have anywhere in mind that I have not included on this list then please do let me know!
Stay Safe and Happy Adventuring!
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