Turn Right At Liverpool And Keep Walking – Day 78 The Pilgrim’s Way , Across The Causeway To Lindisfarne – 17th September 2018

A shortish walk this week. I am on holiday in Northumberland near Bamburgh, the ancient capital of Northumbria, which stretched North of England to  the South of Scotland. North of the Humber in effect. It is the place where Christianity was introduced to England by Aidan, an Irish monk who died in 651. He travelled much around the Kingdom spreading the gospels, but spent time on Lindisfarne praying and meditating. In 651, just a fortnight before he died on 31 August, he was in his cell on the Isle, and saw a pagan army attacking the city of Bamburgh with fire. He prayed and the winds miraculously changed, saving the city. Which is why he is now the patron saint of Firefighters.

In 635, King Oswald gave the Isle of Lindisfarne to Aidan, for a monastery and therefore since then the crossing across the tidal sands to Holy Island has become a route of pilgrimage. The road to the island was not built until 1954, and up to that point it was difficult to get there.

Because the Synod Of Whitby in 664 decided inter alia the date of Easter (the first Sunday after a full moon after 21 March) you can always walk across the sands on Good Friday morning. The tides just work that way. Isn’t the moon great

The Synod also settled that we follow the Roman church, rather than the Celtic one influenced by Iona

Finally it decided on the style of Monks haircuts.

Busy time.

Walking across the sands is special, and despite all my visits since 1971 I have never taken that route, so I wanted to experience that route. I joined an organised walk, run by Patrick from Footsteps ( http://footstepsnorthumberland.co.uk/walks ) and I highly recommend taking one of his walks, he knows his stuff

Our group is around 6 and the weather is good, the great thing is we get to take our shoes off and walk barefoot. The water is still warm (which for Northumberland is a minor miracle!)


So let’s have a look at some of the sights




The first thing new to me, which I hadn’t realised is that a river (The South Low) flows into the bay at this point. I should have, as there is a bridge over the water here, but if you are in a car you don’t give thought to it. It is to deep to comfortably ford, so we also take the bridge across (which is tricky as the drivers coming over the causeway are surprisingly tetchy and impatient.)

In the distance, on the sandbanks is a colony of seals, they are barking, it sounds like a howling gale. There are over a thousand so the noise is long and continuous and provides a backdrop to our walk


It is extremely peaceful making the walk, much different from the Morecambe Bay crossing, both in terms of numbers but also it is much more alive here. Seabirds fly around us, shells abound in the sands for them to feast upon, and we are in sight of the destination, although it is deceptive in its distance – 3 miles each way.

On the island we make our way to a The Pilgrims Coffee House that roasts its own beans (being hipsters it is in a Yurt)  as well as makes excellent cakes (not having a sweet tooth I opt for a Kedgeree toasties, which although delicious does repeat on me for the next few days)


Patrick takes us to places I didnt know about on Lindisfarne – A Fitzroy Barometer


Fitzroy was Captain of The Beagle, and one of the first metereologists, he had these barometers placed at ports to aid “forecasts” a word of his coinage.

After his five year voyage on the Beagle he married one Mary Henrietta O’Brien. This came as a great shock to Darwin as he had not once mentioned his long engagement to her.

Lindisfarne is still a fishing village, and I always love looking at the lobster pots by the shore


Of course, more famous than Aidan, is St Cuthbert who lived on Lindisfarne


When he died, his body was carried to Durham, which forms the route of the other great Pilgrim’s path from Lindisfarne. Recent excavations on the Island have found the remains of an old church, which could be where he worshipped.

I love Lindisfarne, and our tour of the Island is over too quickly, and it’s time to return back over the causeway, we make faster progress back, as the rain is threatening, however it stays fine, as it does for most of my week in Northumberland

It’s a special place, you feel that you have left the modern world. One day I will return and stay when the tide is in and we are cut off. I’ll avoid the Kedgeree though


I’ll leave you with a picture of what the causeway looks like when the tide is in, this was two days later in high winds, at the same time as I set off over the path.


Copyright 2018 Allan P Russell

Author: allanprussell

Big houses in the Heatons and others that take my interest.

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