Friday, 21 October 2011

HOLY ISLAND

Visitors heading in a northerly direction up the coast of Northumberland from Seahouses and Bamburgh, via the nature reserves of Budle Bay and Ross Back Sands, part of the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, will be treated to the beguiling sight of Holy Island topped with Lindisfarne Castle growing ever larger in their field of vision. Visits to the island have to be carefully timed, as it is accessible only by a causeway and only at low tide. The castle, a Tudor fort built in 1550, sits so naturally on its cone of rock that it almost seems an extension of the rock itself. The famous architect Edwin Lutyens restored the original ruined castle in 1902, converting it into a private house. The property is now run by the National Trust.

Down below lie the red sandstone ruins of Lindisfarne Priory, run by English Heritage. There was originally a monastery founded by the monk Aidan, but this was destroyed by the Danes in the 9th century. The British Library houses a relic from this time: the Lindisfarne Gospels, a magnificent example of English Celtic art. Work on the Priory began in 1093. There is a little village on the island with a cluster of cottages, a handful of shops and a couple of pubs. So all in all it is worth braving the causeway to come over here as there is plenty to see and it makes a fascinating day out.

Map of the area.

'Holy Island' photo (c) 2010, Chris Parker - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

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