Holy Island of Lindisfarne

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May, 2017

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Adult family

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If you have visited Iona on the west coast of Scotland, a visit to “Lindisfarne Island”:https://www.lindisfarne.org.uk/ off the east coast of England, Northumberland to be exact, is a must. Saint Aidan left the holy island of Iona to establish a monastery on a new Holy Island – Lindisfarne. It is one of those islands that you can access by road at low tide so you have to watch timetables to ensure you have enough time to explore it. We had checked out the timetables when we were at Seahouses the day before so we headed to Lindisfarne to ensure we arrived just after high tide. You can also check the website for safe crossing times as well as opening times for the Priory and Lindisfarne Centre. Ours was one of the first vehicles over the causeway and into the parking lot – the main car park on the left over the causeway – and then we headed left into the village.

We decided to go on the nature walk in the Short Walks Around St. Oswald’s Way guidebook we had found in our rented cottage. We had used the guidebook for a walk the day before in “Bamburgh”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/place/175595-review-bamburgh. We all took advantage of the facilities in the Coach Park in the village (there are no toilets on the walk) then headed back to the main car park, past it towards the causeway, then turned right through the gate before the sands. It was moving to see the pilings still in the sand between the island and the shore marking where the pilgrims used to walk out to the island before the road was built in 1966. They looked mystical in the mist. There were many different wildflowers along the route such as bluebells. We followed the path past the old lime kilns from the Kennedy Limeworks then the old waggonway to the right “where horse-drawn wagons took limestone from quarries at Snipe Point and Nessend to the kilns.” We found the map in the guidebook not to be entirely helpful. We took what we thought was the mentioned diversion to Nessend through the sandhills but never found the markers along the way. We could see the odd person in the distance along the far shore and followed paths through the sandhills until we reached the shore ourselves. It turned out we turned too early and came out at Snipe Point and walked along to Nessend where we found the markers and used them to get back to the main trail. The views at the coast were stunning though we did not see any seals. The beaches and the cliffs were lovely and we watched the breakers and the shore birds for a while. Though it was breezy, the early mist cleared and it was a lovely and sunny morning.

When we got back to the main path we continued to the left to the old waggonway and turned left toward the Lough – freshwater lake – cutting across Emmanuel Head with its pyramid navigation marker. We stopped for a short while in the hide to watch the birds on the Lough – swans, coots, ducks. We did see some pale-bellied brent geese from Spitzbergen in Artic Norway. The Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve is a hive of wildlife. Past the hide we turned right at the next gate and headed back to the village as the castle is closed for repairs until 2018. Once you pass the farmyard you turn left into the village.

After a nice lunch at the “Lindisfarne Hotel”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review?id=175857 we had a look around St. Mary’s Parish Church next to the Priory. The church is home of the Lindisfarne Gospels circa 698AD and there are storyboards inside the church providing information and pictures of the illuminated pages and the stories of St. Aidan and St. Cuthbert. There are lovely stained glass windows and an imposing elm wood sculpture as you enter called The Journey by Dr. Fenwick Lawson. It depicts the journey of St. Cuthbert’s coffin from the island to Durham, and amazingly, was carved mostly with a chainsaw. There is another one (a bronze copy) in Durham, in the Millenium Square, reflecting the end of his journey.

We went into Lindisfarne winery and sampled the various meads and chocolates and bought many – the pink and the original. My aunts and I did a bit more shopping while my uncle sat outside in the sunshine with all the shopping bags. There are some interesting children’s stories about the Unicorn of Holy Island and the Berwick Bear.

When we left the island with half an hour to spare before the tide came in, there were very few vehicles left in the car park. No one wanted to get stranded on the island!

Denise Bridge

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