Wednesday 27 May 2015
Circular walk around Holy Island
The Barn at Beal campsite
According to the tide tables safe crossings to Holy Island today were before 9 am and after 12.40 pm. Perfect for me so I was up by 6 am, as usual, and with no tent to pack decided to make tea and porridge for breakfast. The view in the morning sunshine was stunning.
The walk across the causeway and then into the Holy Island village took me one and a half hours and I happened upon the post office just before 9, as it was opening. It was heartening to see all the locals coming in and the place was full of chatter. Probably because of the tide times, there were very few visitors in the morning; only about 10 cars in the car park. That meant an unencumbered stroll around the island to see the sights and read about its history. The island is an important place of pilgrimage for Christians as it was apparently where Christianity was brought to the Northumbrian Anglo Saxons by St Aidan in 635AD, and then by his better-known successor, St Cuthbert. It was an important monastic site until the Vikings sacked it, but the monks came back and then there was the dissolution of the monasteries so it was destroyed again. I enjoyed visiting St Mary’s church, built next to The ruins of St Peter’s church, where St Cuthbert was originally buried.
Just offshore from Holy Island is a very small island with the remains of a chapel where St Cuthbert tried out life as a hermit before he moved to Inner Farne. It is tiny!
I walked around the small harbour to Lindisfarne Castle. The harbour had had some quirky upturned boats that had been turned into shacks, common practice on Holy Island.
King Henry VIII had the fort built to keep out the Scots and it housed a garrison for many years before it was abandoned and bought by Edward Hudson in 1901 as a holiday home. He hired the architect Edwin Lutyens (designer of the Cenotaph and Queen Mary’s dolls house) to reconfigure the castle and turn it into a quirky house. I recommend Lindisfarne Castle as a better visit than Bamburgh Castle.
I finished off my morning with a pub dinner and then headed back across the causeway. By this time it was half an hour after the designated time for the causeway to reopen and huge numbers of people were pouring onto the island. I was walking against a tide of people and cars. So glad I went early! I just made it back to the campsite as it started to rain so I sheltered in the cafe until it shut at 5 pm. After that there was nothing for it but an early night (I didn’t fancy the wet walk to the pub). In bed by 6 then as there’s no room in my tent for sitting around.