Lindisfarne – The Holy Island

One of my fascinations is tidal islands-islands that are cut off for part of the day. I am not sure how many there are in the world but I have now visited three:

  1. Mont St Muchel in France
  2. Mount st Michael in Cornwall
  3. Most recently Lindisfarne off the North East Coast of England

I was so excited to travel 1.6km (1 mile) from the British mainland to the island via a causeway that goes under water twice a day when the North Sea sweeps in and cuts Lindisfarne off from England. We went past warning signs imploring drivers not to proceed if the tide is rising. Apparently a car get stuck every one to two months and needs to be rescued. This video shows a couple of close calls!

Once safely on this tiny island, which is just 5km (3miles) from east to west and 2.4km (1.2 miles) from north to south, you discover how beautiful a place it is with stunning bird life. I enjoyed watching and hearing the seals that swim around the island and perch on the rocks. Note the tranquility is shattered when the tide is down!

The highlight for me was the remains of the original  monastery. Lindisfarne is known as the Holy Island because it was here that Christianity reached England and from here it was disseminated across the British Isles-almost 1500 years ago. The priory first opened in the 6th century and was added to until King Henry the eight shut them down! We went there in the middle of the day and at sunset which was stunning!

Photo 2014-09-24 21 05 18

There are a large number of churches and Christian communities still operating including a centre for Celtic Christianity. The earliest English version of a part of the Bible was produced here.  

No island would be complete without its own (small) castle , which in Lindisfarne’s case is a Tudor fort  renovated  in the “Arts and Crafts “style by Sir Edwin Lutyens for the editor of Country Life, Edward Hudson. It is open daily and has a gorgeous garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll

Photo 2014-09-24 21 19 09

Food choices are limited to a couple of pubs and a couple of restaurants -all require bookings as they all sell out. We found good quality food everywhere but service was a bit rude in a couple of places.

There are a couple of small shops. Another popular place is the Mead shop which sells this fortified honey alcoholic drink brewed to the same recipe that the monks brewed hundreds of years ago.

Crime seems to be low on the island. 

Photo 2014-09-24 18 26 31Getting here is a little tricky. I think sailing a yacht to their tiny harbour would be fun! Nearest town is Berwick upon Tweed which is on the railway line between Newcastle and Edinburgh, both of which have airports. You can take a local bus which comes onto the island a couple of times a week from Berwick. Taxis also ply the route between the town and the island. You can self drive -just make sure you get the tide times right! It is possible to walk on the island!


The island is a perfect place to relax. There is not a lot “to do” More information here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.