D8: HOLY ISLAND CIRCULAR
Wednesday 11th July 2018
Today miles: 12.7 Total miles: 121.4
Happily I’m rejoined once again by Gemma and Alfie for today on what is primarily a circular walk around the Holy Island of Lindisfarne (known simply as Holy Island). This is a tidal island located off the coast of Northumberland and it was once an important centre of Celtic Christianity and the location of Lindisfarne Castle and Priory. The relatively small Cadtle was built on the Island in 1550 and is currently undergoing a major renovation hence the layer of scaffolding on three sides. After parking in the causeway car park we set off across the mudflats to the Western edge of the Island. It’s approximately 1 mile to the Island and a further 1 1/2 miles to the priory. The ancient pilgrims path crossing the causeway still exists and runs parellel(ish) to the more modern tarmac causeway road. Halfway across the causeway there’s a small refuge hut on stilts. Despite numerous warning signs on the approach to the Island there are still several incidents each year whereby people get stranded on the causeway.
The Island only has a resident population of 130 people but during the summer months can receive in excess of 3000 visitors each day. It’s a little cooler then last week and there’s a gentle breeze blowing across the Island. Alfie enjoyed himself chasing the wading birds in the shallow puddles. Despite our best efforts too avoid these large puddles both me and Gemma ended up with wet feet. Within 5 minutes of reaching the edge of the Island we were standing in the town centre, looking around for somewhere to buy a hot drink. The town was fairly busy as was ‘The Pilgrims Cafe’. After Downing our hot drinks we moved off to walk around the Island.
The Lindisfarne Castle is located in the South Eastern corner of the Island and as mentioned it’s currently undergoing a major refurbishment, there’s a significant amount of scaffolding against the side of the building. The work is due to be completed later this year. The path aro7nd the island is excellent. After the castle we came across Gertrude Jekyll’s Garden, a small walled garden with a central sundial surrounded by colourful flowers. The thing about Holy Island is that it never stops giving and we never had to go very far before we came across our next little surprise. Next up are the hundreds of small stone cairns scattered across the beach at Castle Point, then later there’s several willow bird sculptures spread out along the Eastern coastline. There’s a total of 8 pieces of artwork representing some of the most common species found on the Island. As we passed a small water feature called ‘The Lough’ I spotted a warning notice pinned to the fence. It stated that Lindisfarne Island had been invaded by an Australasian plant named Piri Piri Burr and that the plant was liable to stick to clothing and more worryingly animal fur.
We took an extended break on the Northern shore, Alfie was flagging and we all needed a drink and something to eat. Before setting off I checked my watch and we had plenty of time to make it back to the car before the causeway was cut off by water. We had already spotted that Alfie was covered in the dreaded Piri Piri Burr, it was across all four legs and his stomach.
We had 2 hours to waste before the causeway opened so we headed to the pub for some liquid refreshment. I purchased a comb from the local shop and managed to borrow a pair of scissors from the helpful staff at the hotel bar, I then spent 40 minutes cutting the Piri Piri Burr out of Alfie’s fur. To keep our feet dry we decided to walk along the tarmaced causeway instead of the mudflats. According to the tidal timetable the causeway wasn’t meant to officially open until 5.20pm however it’s only 4.00pm and I can see cars moving along the road. The last three miles were tough in the blazing sun and everybody was pleased to be back to the shade of the car by 5pm. Fantastic day.