our Guide to Holy Island

It was in the year 635AD that a visitor 
arrived on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne that would change this Island for ever. This man was St Aidan, he came from Iona and decided to set up his Monastery on the Island and from here the Christian faith spread across the world. Holy Island is located on the far North of the Northumberland Coast, a short distance below Berwick-Upon-Tweed. As such it has become a centre of pilgrimage for some 650,000 visitors to the Island each year, with many choosing to walk 'the Pilgrim's Path' at low tide. Marked by tall wooden poles, this path can be seen from the main causeway. It's an amazing number of visitors considering the population of the Island stands at just of 160! You don't need a religious reason for visiting Holy Island, for me I visit purely for it's amazing beauty, peacefulness and wildlife. Buy a full guide to Holy Island.

Getting There
Getting to Holy Island takes a bit of planning! Access to the Island is limited by the tide, twice a day at high tide the Island becomes inaccessible. Safe crossing times are published by Northumberland County Council and are available here, so that should be your first port of call when planning a visit to the Island. This doesn't seem to stop people from getting stuck however! Each year there are many reports of people 'risking it' and having to be rescued from one of the raised safety points on the causeway. Their cars aren't as lucky though and are generally ruined, so the lesson here is don't take risks!!

Getting here by car is easy, the causeway is not far from the A1, approximately 8 miles South of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, you need to take the crossroads East at Beal. From here it's just five miles to the Island. As you enter the Island by car, follow the road along for about a mile and on the left you will see a car park. Unless you have a disabled badge you must park here, there is no longer parking available on the road to the Castle as there used to be many years ago. If you require disabled parking continue on this road and take your first left where you will see the Coach and disable car park. There is a minibus service on the Island that links the two car parks and the Castle during it's opening hours for those not able or willing to walk from the Village.

Getting to the Island by public transport can be a little more tricky. Beal is a stop (upon request) on the Arriva "Coast and Castles Bus Service" which is the service between Alnwick and Berwick on their 501 route (see link below for more information). Their 'Discover Day Ticket' and 'Discover Weekly Tickets' are valid on any 501 or 505 bus from Alnwick to Berwick. From Beal you can catch a local Island bus that operates from Berwick, route 477. The service frequency depends on the time of year and also the tide so a good amount of planning is required to match the times of this service, otherwise it is a five mile walk from here to the Island. The nearest train station is Berwick-Upon-Tweed, a stop on the East Coast Mainline between London and Edinburgh, approximately 8 mile North of the Island. There is also a local Taxi Company that works across the area and has a lot of experience dealing with the crossing times.

A slightly more fun way to arrive on the Island is by boat from Seahouses harbour. The company that offers this is 'Glad Tidings' Boats, run by Billy Sheil MBE. Their trips include a brief look at the Farne Islands on route to Holy Island and offer the unique experience of visiting the Island at high tide. This is the only way to visit the Island and guarantee it will be quiet and peaceful as the masses of visitors can't access the Island by car at these times.

If the tide crossing times don't quite match or you're a little early, i would highly recommend stopping at the nearby Barn at Beal. It is a restaurant and coffee shop that offers stunning views of the Island and also have TV screens with live feeds from the causeway.

Castle's tend to be high on the list of things to do in Northumberland, mainly because the County has so many stunning specimens and Lindisfarne Castle is no different in this respect. Sat high on a volcanic rock perch and easily visible from as far as Bamburgh, Lindisfarne Castle was built in the 1500's with much of the stone taken from the deserted Priory. It is now a National Trust Property and the Island's top attraction. Next in popularity are the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory which was the original location of the Lindisfarne Gospels. Founded in 635AD by St Cuthbert it was eventually destroyed by increasingly frequent Viking raids and the Monks left in 875AD. There is now an excellent museum at the Priory and an exciting calendar of events. On top of these two historic sites there is the harbour to visit, the winery where you can have a free sample of Lindisfarne Mead, the Gospel Gardens and many beautiful circular walks. Explore your guide to Attractions and Things To Do on Holy Island...

Join the National Trust

Restaurants, Pubs & Cafes - Eating Out in Holy Island

For such a sparsely populated Island there is a good variety of choice of places to eat and drink on Holy Island. Perhaps there needs to be to cope with the huge number of visitors year round, as many as 650,000 people each year. To reflect the nature of these visitors, you will find that some places to eat and drink are only open in the peak times, usually the Spring and Summer months. Most of the more established Hotel restaurants and Public Houses are open year round. Explore your guide to Places to Eat and Drink on Holy Island...

Accommodation on Holy Island needs to be researched and booked well in advance if you would like to stay at peak times. Being such a small Island community there is a limited number of rooms in various types of accommodation, from Hotels to B&B's and religious retreats. Outside of Summer and in off-peak times there is slightly less demand, but i would still encourage you to plan your visit and book well in advance to avoid disappointment. Explore your guide to Places Stay in Holy Island...

Shopping and Supermarkets
Shopping on Holy Island consists mainly of Gift Shops and galleries. If it's groceries you are after then you will have to head on to the mainland. St Aidan's Winery is definitely worth visiting for it's world famous Lindisfarne Mead (you can even get a free sample) along with their nice range of local produce, beers and wines and gift shop. For Supermarkets you will need to go to Berwick to the North or Alnwick to the South, both are easily accessed from the A1. Other Shops on Holy Island include:

The Burning Light Shop and Gallery Marygate, Holy Island, Northumberland
The National Trust Shop Marygate, Holy Island, Northumberland
Celtic Crafts Marygate, Holy Island, Northumberland
St Aidan's Winery Lindisfarne Limited, Prior Lane, Holy Island, Northumberland
Village Store Fenkle Street, Holy Island, Northumberland

Holy Island Post Office, Marygate, Holy Island, Northumberland
Village Hall - Currently not in use due to refurbishments being required.
Public Toilets are located in the coach park. Between March and October there are also public toilets available next to the Village Hall in the centre of the Village.
St Cuthbert's Centre - United Reformed Church

Places and Attractions Nearby

Have we missed something? Can you recommend an attraction, restaurant or accommodation? Or maybe you have a business you would like to be included? Let us know.

Useful and Interesting Links
St Cuthbert's Centre - United Reformed Church