Last weekend a few new friends and I decided to make the trip to Lindisfarne (also known as Holy Island). Due to the location of this island, the main road you take to get to the island is completely submerged under water several times a day depending on the tides. There are ample signs and timetables easily accessible on the internet to assist visitors with figuring out when it is safe to cross. We had been told over and over and over again that you had to be careful when visiting Holy Island because the tide covers the main road to the island during the day. It was my first experience visiting a tidal island!
After briefly consulting the tide tables and the bus schedule, we bought our round trip train tickets up to Berwick-upon-Tweed where we would then take a bus to the island. We planned to spend the day seeing the sites on the island before taking the bus back to the train station. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite read the bus timetable correctly…but I’ll get to that later.
Our day on the island was amazing. It has recorded history going back to the 6th century. Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne was an Irish monk and missionary that founded a monastic cathedral on the island. Saint Cuthbert was a monk, who was also a hermit, and he lived on his own small island right off the coast of Holy Island. Rich with monastic and Christian history, we really enjoyed our day of sightseeing and reading old stories about life on the island.
We were also able to tour the small castle was built there in 1550. It was the former holiday home of a wealthy Edwardian bachelor. The home has incredible views (unfortunately we only got a taste of this because the weather decided to be incredibly foggy). However we still got to enjoy the castle and it’s beauty. The National Trust has done a wonderful job of preserving the real furniture from the 16th century. The structure of the home also remains unchanged. It was fun to wander through the home and witness life as it would have been so many centuries ago.The island itself is quite small, only 3 miles wide and 1.5 miles long. There are around 180 full time residents living on the island. When we asked at a gift shop, one of the workers told us that they see more than 600,000 tourists each year, most come during the peak of summer. We had a hard time imagining how full the island would be in summer compared to our brisk fall day spent there!
In the afternoon we decided to warm up for a bit at a local coffee shop where we realized that we had misread the bus timetable and if we waited for the bus we had planned on taking, we were going to completely miss our train home. Whoops! After some scrambling, phone calls, and conversations covering just about every course of action, we ended up calling a taxi service that informed us that the tide was in, so we’d need to wait another couple hours before we could safely cross back to the mainland. Fortunately the taxi company came to get us as soon as it was safe and we arrive back at the train station just in time for our trip home. A day well spent, an adventure to remember, and a lesson learned. From now on, we’ll always double check the timetables!