Friday, 16 January 2015

Circumnavigation of Holy Island

Lindisfarne Castle:

There's something special about an island that you can walk to from the mainland, one that you can entirely circumnavigate on foot, and return across acres of corrugated sand in the gloaming.

Frozen sand approaching Lindisfarne:

Especially when the island is Lindisfarne, the Holy Island, the Iona of the East, the St Michael's Mount of the North.

Crossing the sands, we saw another group of walkers looking at something in the near distance. As we passed we saw it was a seal, hauled out onto the sands and eyeing the distant humans warily.

A bigger surprise was a little egret, a beautiful, small white heron. I had no idea they lived here!

Approaching the end of the beach leading to Lindisfarne:

We arrived on Holy Island at Primrose Bank, or more accurately, kept Holy Island to our right, circumnavigating clockwise (as in The Sea on Our Left, a classic account of walking the British coastline). The sands stretch expansively between Berwick and Lindisfarne, and it is possible to keep Holy Island's shore at quite a distance. Surf pounds the sands edge, but walk closer to Holy Island and the beach dips slightly towards shore, creating an odd effect - the surf still audible, but no longer visible, as if the end of the sand bank falls off the edge of the world.

Looking back beyond the surf towards Berwick:

When the beach narrows at the north eastern end of Holy Island, two surprises - first a short cliff above a beach, backed by dunes and frozen sand.

Coves Haven:

Second, beyond lumpy links land, a pyramidal beacon marking the turn south, where the Farne Islands, Lindisfarne and Bamburgh Castles came into view as we turned south for the village.

These castles are both iconic. It is safe to use that overused word in this context. This view of Lindisfarne Castle is a well-known symbol of the National Trust.

The classic view:

At the castle, suddenly, crowds. We had seen a surprising number of people on our circumnavigation, but they had numbered in their tens. Here was the real thing, on the short stretch between car park and castle to which 90% of island daytrippers confine themselves.

Looking back to Lindisfarne, crossing the sands:

Sun was now setting. The tide would stay out for another couple of hours, but we had to hurry to cross in the remaining daylight. (A situation that reminded me of Cata Sand.) The car park emptied in a steady stream, lights across the causeway. Lindisfarne village would be a good place to stay the night, the tourists gone, the island back in the possession of its inhabitants, ensconced in the snug of a pub with the clanking of boat sheets in the evening breeze.

Route marker poles across the sands:


Ian Johnston said...

That looks a great walk Robert, all the better for being relatively unfrequented in winter :o)

Kind Regards

Chris said...