Lindisfarne Holy Island, Northumberland (11.03.19)

Plonked off Northumberland’s atmospheric north-eastern coastline, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne is the founding cornerstone of English Christianity. It dates back to 635AD when Saint Aidan travelled south from the Hebridean island of Iona to set up his monastery and ultimately spread the word further south and wide.

It remains not only one of Britain’s most charming islands, stunningly located, but also one of the most significant historical destinations for both Christian pilgrims as well as tourists seeking the double whammy of raw nature and mythical history. Enchantingly quiet, it is dominated by a collection of yesteryear monuments including the island’s priory, church, chapel, houses and fairy-tale castle.

Completely cut off from the mainland at high-tide, the centuries-old tidal fortifications continue to protect the island’s natural environment and isolated inhabitants as efficiently as ever. Indeed, this magical shoreline gives the impression little has changed since the early Roman occupation two thousand years ago.

The Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve hugely benefits from the fast-moving tides with mudflats, saltmarshes, rock-shores and sand dunes sustaining not only a wealth of wildlife but also a delicate eco-system that includes mire dominated by sphagnum and dwarf shrub, as well as muckle-moss and wet-woodland.

Birders will love the fact that it is the winter home to six internationally important species of wildfowl and wading birds. Moreover, the Holy Island has offered a resting spot for migratory birds escaping the cold Arctic winters since ancient times.

With the omnipresent Lindisfarne Castle overseeing everything, the overriding sense of mystery and charm is further heightened by the Guile Point and Heugh Hill Lighthouses that usher boats into Holy Island Harbour. Aligning the two Guile Point Cleopatra’s Needle-like obelisks allows vessels to pass safely through the small tidal island channels as if by some charmed Celtic force.

Having just visited the island for the first time with our extended family, I highly recommend it. On a clear winter’s day Lindisfarne is not only an Area of outstanding natural beauty with a spectacular setting, but also lists impressive historical monuments.

Whether looking through the eyes of a modern-day lobster fisherman, monastic monk or soldier atop Bamburgh Castle ramparts on the mainland, the very setting of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne will draw you in. Fast allowing you to understand how this remote island getaway is so justifiably in the mix as one of the holiest sites of Anglo-Saxon England.

Lindisfarne as a distant view from Bamburgh Castle ramparts.

BBC Choir Man Gareth Maloen conducting churchyard interviews.