Skim over the sands and causeway to Holy Island and prepare to enter another world. Lying just a few miles off the Northumberland coast, Holy Island is cut off twice-daily from the rest of the world by fast-moving tides. Both an island and a picturesque village, Holy Island carries a wealth of history within its tidal walls.
Experience the serenity of 12th century Lindisfarne Priory, the epicentre of Christianity in Anglo Saxon times and once the home of St Oswald. This peaceful setting was the birthplace of the Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the world’s most precious books. Ransacked by marauding Viking raiders in the 8th century, the evocative ruins of Lindisfarne Priory includes the famous ‘rainbow bridge’ which spirals skywards with the ghost of a long-vanished tower.
Holy Island remains a place of pilgrimage today. The island is the final destination of long distance walking route and one of Scotland’s Great Trails, the St Cuthbert’s Way.
Rising from the sheer rock face at the tip of the island is Lindisfarne Castle. Built in 1550 as a fort to defend the harbour against attack from Scots and Norsemen. In 1901 Edward Hudson bought Lindisfarne Castle and commissioned celebrated architect Edward Lutyens to give the castle a luxurious makeover turning it into a comfortable but quirky holiday home. Today the National Trust look after Lindisfarne Castle so you can enjoy the fabulous architecture, stunning views and explore the restoration work that took place during 2017.
Aside its historical pedigree, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne has an exciting array of wildlife. Its island status protects tidal mudflats, saltmarshes and dunes which together form the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. Rare plants and an abundance of food supplies attract visiting birds from thousands of miles.
Autumn is the best time to look out for internationally important species of wildfowl and wading birds that overwinter on the reserve. Spot pale-bellied brent geese flying in from Svalbard (Spitsbergen) to spend the winter on Holy Island. pink footed and greylag geese, wigeon, grey plovers and bar-tailed godwits are just some of the island’s other visitors. Grey seals bob in the waters here and can be spotted sunning themselves on the sands, joined by the occasional common seal.
A word of caution: Be sure to check for safe crossing times on the causeway's notice board before journeying to Holy Island. Berwick Tourist Information Centre has full details of both the tides and bus service to the island.
Holy Island is perfect for walking with friends and families. Walks on Holy Island is a great guide for anyone looking to visit the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.