Take a scenic drive up the North East coast and visit The Holy Island of Lindisfarne which sits in the North Sea a mile from the North Northumberland coast. This remote island is cut off from the mainland twice a day by the tide but when the tides allow the island is accessed by a causeway which takes you to this peaceful and very beautiful part of Northumberland. As well as the wealth of history within its tidal walls, the island offers a quiet, tranquil but fascinating day out.
On your route to and from Holy Island you might spot a row of long wooden poles that mark the way from the mainland to the village. These markers show the last part of St Cuthbert’s Way, the 62 mile pilgrimage walk from the town of Melrose in the Borders to the island, many walkers choose to do this final stage of this long distance walk in bare foot, undoubtedly a truly unique and memorable way to end this pilgrimage walk.
Probably the most well known and iconic view of Holy Island is that of Lindisfarne Castle which stands prominently and high up on top of a volcanic plug known as Beblowe Crag. It’s a steep climb to the castle but you will be rewarded with some of the best views of the island.
A visit to Lindisfarne Priory takes you in the footsteps of the ancient monks who built it over 1400 years ago. It stands proudly and although in ruins, these give a clear indication of the grandeur that this building once had. Be sure to look up at the ornate ‘Rainbow Arch’ which still towers high above these highly decorated remains.
A walk to the North of island away from the village takes you to ‘The Links’, a dune covered area which is part of the Lindisfarne Nature Reserve and that boasts animals and plants that can’t be seen elsewhere. There are several wildlife viewing points around the island and if you look out to sea you may spot the resident seals! Another haven for wildlife is St Cuthbert’s Island, a small tidal island to the south west of the main island and is where it is said St Cuthbert himself went for peace and quiet away from the priory.
Holy Island is not short of places to visit, St Mary’s Church, the Old Lifeboat Station Museum, The Heritage Centre with it’s exhibitions and an interactive copy of the famous Lindisfarne Gospels. In the centre of the village you will find St Aidan’s Winery where the popular Lindisfarne Mead is produced. It is believed that mead was first produced and enjoyed on the island following the arrival of St. Aidan in AD687, it is a unique blend of honey and fermented grape juice and is a strong contender to be classed as the ancestor of all fermented honey drinks making it one of the oldest alcoholic drinks. There are lots of variations of the mead to enjoy, it would be a shame not to try at least a few whilst you’re there!
Another attraction are the Gertrude Jekyll Gardens which are just a short walk from the village and are free to visit. These enchanting gardens are still set in the original garden plan of 1911 when they were created by Gertrude Jekyll and are still to this day planted to be at their best in the July & August when she is said to have visited the gardens.
Holy Island has a unique link to our little piece of Northumberland as it lies at the opposite end of the 97 mile walking route, St Oswald’s Way which ends in Heavenfield right here at St Oswald’s Farm. The route links some of the places associated with St Oswald, the King of Northumbria in the early 7th Century, who played a major part in bringing Christianity to his people and the route takes in castles, coastline, islands, scenic river valleys, hills, attractive villages, forest and farmland. The walk is divided up into sections which are all detailed on the St Oswald’s Way website.
Holy Island is a special and atmospheric place and a trip there will undoubtedly be a memorable one, but please ensure it’s memorable for the right reasons. Each year many people unfortunately get caught out by the tide and become stranded. Please always forward plan your trip and check the safe crossing times by going to https://holyislandcrossingtimes.northumberland.gov.uk/
Book your stay in Northumberland and look forward to enjoying all this glorious County has to offer. We look forward to seeing you soon.