There is some debate as to the name of this Northumberland Island, should it be ‘Holy Island’ or ‘Holy Island of Lindisfarne’. I have to say I prefer the Old English ‘Lindisfarne’ mainly due to the fact that there are other Holy Islands (or Holy Isles) and it avoids confusion. The name Lindisfarne seems to date back to the 8th century while Holy Island can be traced back to the 11th.
This is not quite our closest island but it is the one needing least planning other than checking the safe crossing times for the causeway. January 2nd’s times were ideal for an over high tide stay and the weather, although not as good as the forecast, was also fine for a walk around.
We parked on the car park near The Snook with the sun beaming through the clouds to the south illuminating Bamburgh Castle. The beach along the northern side of the island was virtually deserted and led us east to the rockiest part of the shoreline. The shorter sections of beach with their mounds of rotting kelp were being picked over by a variety of birds from starlings to sanderlings and oystercatchers. The breaking waves near Emmanuel Point were whipped backwards by the fresh, westerly.
The path down the eastern shore partially follows an old waggonway that linked the limekilns near the castle with the quarry at Nessend with the embankments providing a little shelter from the chilly breeze. The shingle bank towards Castle point was still littered with little towers of balanced stones and small shelters made by earlier visitors and as yet not demolished by any winter storm. A few cursory moments of sun helped brighten the castle, recently revealed having been covered with impressive scaffolding structures around it.
The village itself is quiet at this time of year with many of the houses providing holiday accommodation but even so it gave us the chance for a bite to eat before our route continued past the Priory, old lifeboat house and island end of the Pilgrims’ crossing. Here curlews and redshanks fed in the mud left by the then receding tide and on the tidal edge was a small raft of Eider ducks.
By our arrival back at the car the causeway was open again and the sun had dropped into the low line of clear sky providing late golden illumination of the marram grass covered dunes.