A narrow lane descends down through the hamlet of Beal to the shore. At low tide a causeway is revealed which allows vehicles to cross the muddy-mixed sands to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, a place that oozes history, religion and past spirits.
But beware – twice a day the tide comes in and covers this whole stretch, between the island and the mainland. Wooden poles mark out the pedestrian routes and high refuge boxes have been constructed along the way, just in case any of the many visitors are caught out by the tide.
The car park is large, the tea rooms plentiful and the atmosphere wild and intriguing.
St Aiden came from Scotland to convert Northumberland to Christianity. He founded the Lindisfarne Priory in around 634 AD. It eventually fell into disuse, leaving the extensive ruins that can be seen today. The island is still a place of pilgrimage and it is the final destination on the long-distance walking route of Saint Cuthbert’s Way.
Rising from the sheer rock face at the tip of the island is Lindisfarne Castle. Built in 1550 using stone from the abandoned priory buildings, it defended the harbour against attack from Scots and Norsemen. In 1901 Edward Hudson bought Lindisfarne Castle and gave it a luxurious makeover, turning it into a comfortable but quirky holiday home. In 2017 the castle underwent extensive renovation and is managed by the National Trust. My photograph shows this work taking place under its protective tent.
The castle is open to the public, as are the nearby lime kilns at Castle Point. Lime was used in constructing the homes and to enrich the soil. Numerous pubs, hotels, tea rooms and guest houses service the thousands of visitors who come to the island to immerse themselves in its history, to appreciate its wildlife or to enjoy its fine beaches.