Visit to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne

I couple of weekends ago I visited the Northumberalnd coast with my good friends and we spent the early afternoon of Sunday on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. The island is somewhere I have wanted to visit for many years and despite passing it for most years of my life on the way to the family time share in Scotland and also despite the in-laws living so close by, the opportunity had never arisen. 
The island is separated from the mainland twice a day by the tide making it accessible for only a few hours each day. We had witnessed the tide coming in from the mainland the previous evening and the speed at which the road to the island is engulfed by the water is incredible. We even spotted a car that had become stranded on the high land between the island and the mainland. The people would be safe there from the rising tide but they were in for a 4.5 hour wait away from any civilization, until the sea retreated. Despite warning signs and readily available tide times, apparently many cars get stranded each year after attempting to cross the causeway as the tide is coming in.
Holy Island is a place of pilgrimage for Christians and also for many tourists. The island is a delight for anyone who has an interest in heritage and nature. Lindisfarne has a recorded history since the 6th Century with the ruined 7th Century monastery managed by English Heritage and the 16th Century castle managed by The National Trust. Even more exciting, for me, is the fact that Lindisfarne is surrounded by a National Nature Reserve which covers 8,750 acres and is one of only two barrier beach systems in the UK.  The area is home to a large number of bird species including the light-bellied Brent geese which spend the winter on the reserve. I was super excited to have seen the geese the previous evening along shore of the mainland. They must have just arrived after migrating all the way down from the Arctic. Even though they were swimming so close to the shore my lens wasn’t good enough to catch them on camera.

The two tall beacons that can be just made out in the centre and the other to the right of the photo are known as the ‘old law beacons’ and are individually known as Guile Point Heugh Hill. They are said to have been built between 1820 and 1840 and were designed for navigational purposes for vessels entering the harbour. In 1993 one of the beacons was given a light so as to act as a lighthouse.

After walking around the quaint little village we headed to the shore, curiously drawn by the humorous moaning of the grey seals that were laid out on an exposed sandy stretch between the island and the mainland. Again, they were too far away for me to catch on camera.

The shore is made up of a large mussel bed which was truly impressive. The ground is literally covered with live a dead mussels bound to the sand and mud with their sticky ‘beard’ (that stringy bit you remove before cooking them).   My friend Sara who I was with is a marine ecologist and said it was the biggest bed she had seen and that many mussel beds are lost due to dredging and other fishing gear.

The views across the shore were shaed of grays and blues yon closer inspection the beach was covered in beautiful patterns and stunning natural colours such as this vibrant seaweed.

This must be the remains of a wooden post that has been eroded away by the tide. I love the visible rings of the wood and the reminder of how powerful the tide is.

Sara and Tom’s pub Bertie enjoyed sniffing the mussels. The shore was pungent to us so must be an exciting playground of smells for a dog!  Liz is in the background looking at the grey seals moping about on the sandy stretches.

The harbour is lined with upturned boats used as storage sheds for fishermen – such a cool upcycle idea. I can’t get over how rustic yet adorable they look. Maybe I could by an old broken boat and bring a bit of the coast to the wood?

The castle ruin looks like a tower of stone rising up for an old volcano- very impressive. We didn’t go inside as there was a submission cost and we had to dash back to the cars before our parking was up. There’s so much I didn’t get to see and as Dave didn’t get to come along we both plan to visit again very soon.

PS. Have you visited Holy Island?

By Jenni Tulip

I'm a bright-haired, hill walking, magpie whispering, skull collecting, tree hugging, money saving, bird watching, happy campervanning, ferret fanatic, woodland dweller sharing my stories and passion for the outdoors to inspire you to immerse yourself in nature.

  • Looks gorgeous, especially the castle on the hill. Good to hear you saw so much wildlife there too! Northumberland is somewhere I must visit 🙂

  • I like the pattern of the old wooden stump!

  • Looks cold there. Not crowded though, and that's a good thing.

  • My kids just love the excitement of visiting Holy Island and making sure they make it back to the mainland before the tide comes in.

  • Hi there!
    Aah, this made me so happy reading this post! One of my happiest days ever was spent visiting Lindisfarne and then Bamburgh and Seahouses! My husband is from Northumberland and he took me there. I long to go back some time! x