I’ve come to the conclusion that if you’re in need of some peace and quiet, rest and relaxation or just somewhere to collect your thoughts on a staycation, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne is perhaps the best place in the North East to do just that. With a history dating back to 635AD, this beautiful island is firmly rooted within the ecclesiastical past of this area of the world, making it the ideal destination for those in search of a retreat.
This island gem of Northumberland is not only home to a wealth of history and stunning monuments of the past, but it now houses a wealth of independent businesses and public houses, offering visitors and residents wonderful dining options and the chance to purchase local produce almost anywhere on the island. Surrounding by a beautiful expanse of water and an impressive variety of wildlife, Lindisfarne truly is a special place.
Having visited Holy Island once as a child, I was eager to return and explore the island further. When the opportunity to go on a Northumberland staycation with a good friend arose, I immediately suggested we stray off the beaten track and make our way across the causeway to Holy Island!
Lindisfarne is a tidal island, meaning it can only be accessed at certain times of the day via a causeway that links you to mainland Northumberland. There is something quite exciting and (don’t laugh at me) exhilarating about crossing a causeway that you know in a short while will be completely submerged by the sea!
You can visit this website to see the crossing times deemed safe by experts. Even within this crossing times, the weather can surprise you and heavy rain can make your journey across the causeway slightly more treacherous than you anticipated! Plan ahead and stay alert and once you’ve safely crossed to the island, I promise you that it’ll be worth it.
There is a growing variety of accommodation options in the island ranging from cute little cottages, to B&Bs and public houses such as The Crown and Anchor and The Ship Inn offering weary guests a bed for the night.
Always looking for something different, I trawled the internet for the perfect place to stay on Holy Island and happened upon something so dreamy I couldn’t believe my eyes. The Sanctuary, advertised on Airbnb, is the quaintest wooden cabin located at the end of a lady called Jutta’s garden. Complete with a modern bathroom, kitchenette, bed that sleeps two people and modern conveniences including charging points, The Sanctuary is picture perfect.
Hidden away at the very end of Jutta’s walled garden, behind an array of trees and plants that reminded us of something out of The Secret Garden, The Sanctuary is extremely private and homely. It even has it’s own outdoor dining area, perfect for enjoying warm evenings with a bottle of wine whilst the host’s friendly dogs play in the garden. I really hit the jackpot with this place and would definitely go back! Excellent value for money too.
Once again, my National Trust membership came in extremely handy! Lindisfarne Castle is now maintained by the National Trust and is most certainly worth a visit for the 16th-century history, the peaceful Gertrude Jekyll Garden and the stunning views across the island and the North Sea from the castle itself. Having just reopened after a major conservation project (I heard that the National Trust are keeping the scaffolding up as a pair of birds have nested there!) the castle looks fantastic. When I visited a couple of weeks ago, there was a slightly peculiar art installation (I’m not a huge fan of modern art), but even if this isn’t to your taste, the castle has a great deal to offer visitors.
Just along the island’s coastline lies the remains of Lindisfarne Priory – an iconic landmark that is an impressive 1,400 years old (approx.) and has seen everything from the 8th-century Lindisfarne Gospels, the Viking raids and the development and migration of the cult of St Cuthbert. Conserved by English Heritage, the priory ruins are a true feast for the eyes – most people will recognise the splendour of ‘Rainbow Arch’ from historical TV programmes and postcards. A must visit for curious souls and history buffs alike!
Also visit the Lindisfarne Centre and explore the natural beauty of Holy Island Harbour – a heavenly place to stop for a picnic on your way to the castle from the priory (see above for ultimate picnic inspiration!)
Food and Drink
Ever heard of or drank a cup of Pilgrim’s Coffee? Did you know it came from a gorgeous little coffee house and roastery on Holy Island? Pilgrim’s Coffee House is your place-to-go if you’re in search of a light lunch, snack and cup of coffee made from the best coffee beans on the market.
Picking between eating our evening meal at The Crown and Anchor and The Ship Inn was tricky, but we eventually decided to settle for a pre-dinner pint at the former and dinner at the latter. This ended up being a great choice! After a pint of local amber ale at The Crown and Anchor, we walked a mere two minutes to get to the next pub: The Ship Inn. The pub’s website states that there has been a public house at this site on the island for over 100 years – this, along with the fact that the pub stills its own gin (Holy Island gin) swayed our decision to spend the evening here.
We had a delicious sharing starter of breaded camembert with a tangy berry chutney. My friend then enjoyed some crispy, fresh scampi and I had probably the best steak and ale pie (made from local produce) I’ve ever had. Chunky chips, buttery vegetables and a meaty gravy were just the right accompaniments for the pie. A delicious meal all round!
For any more information about how to enjoy the perfect staycation on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, please get in touch! I’d love to hear about your experiences on the island too.