Saturday, 2 January 2016

The first day of a new year

We nipped over the border into Northumberland yesterday, 1 January 2016.  The tide times were right to allow us to drive across the causeway to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.  It is also safe to walk across, guided by poles marking the ancient Pilgrim's Way.  You just have to be mindful of the tide times, because twice a day the island is completely cut off from the mainland. 

In 635 AD, St Aidan travelled across from Iona, off the coast of Mull on Scotland's west coast, to found a monastery on Lindisfarne.  It is a tiny island, with a massive history.  
Goodness me, Lindisfarne was a busy place yesterday!  Despite a bitterly cold wind, whipping across the sea from the south east, there were lots of other people walking from the village out to the Castle and along the shore.
Above, you can see the substantial outline of Bamburgh Castle, along the coast a few miles to the south of Lindisfarne.

In this part of the world there is a tradition to use retired fishing boats as sheds and workshops.  The shape of the upturned boats inspired the Spanish architect, Enric Miralles, in the design of the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh.    
These are the ruins of the Benedictine Priory, first built in the late 11th century.
Lindisfarne Castle was built in the sixteenth century and renovated at the start of the last century by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, with a small garden, sited remotely from the castle, and designed by Gertrude Jekyll.
The first time I saw Holy Island was during a train journey north, to Edinburgh.  It was a late afternoon, on a beautiful day.  I looked out of the window and saw the island and tiny castle, sitting just off the coast, surrounded by an almost transparent, soft periwinkle blue sea, and the trace of a light mist.  It was one of the most romantic sights I had ever seen.  Despite the visitors, it is a wild place, with a ten mile coastline, amazing birdlife, sand dunes, the North Sea breaking on its rocky eastern shore.  It has a tiny fishing industry, the ruins of the old priory - lots to see and do.  A good place to visit!

1 comment:

  1. Such an interesting and evocative place, I loved the upturned boats too - their form is so beautiful. A lovely place to visit on a special day x