Janet Waite, my sister, and keen lover of early English History
Today we have a guest post by Janet Waite, a keen adventurer in early English history, who also happens to be my sister! Janet has a passion for archeaology in particular. Today, she will be talking about her trip to the magical island of Lindisfarne, just off the Northumberland coast. It’s over to Jan:
If you ever have ever caught the train, or driven up the A1 from Newcastle to Edinburgh, you will have caught a glimpse of a mystical spit of land out to sea, with an Arthurian castle perched on the headland… this will have been Lindisfarne. I have visited this magical place many times, and as usual, it didn’t disappoint.
Before you visit, it is vital to check the tide times; many an unwary or foolhardy traveller has been marooned by the tide which rushes in and cuts off the causeway, joining the island to the mainland at Beal. The prospect that you could be marooned here for several hours, adds to the other-worldliness of the place. If you wish to experience the tranquillity the island offers, it is also advisable to get there as soon as you can, tide permitting, as this is a very popular haunt in summer.
The Priory at Lindisfarne
So, what is there to see? An ancient Priory – a ruin now, but still washed by the peace and reverence left by the early monks who settled here to escape from the temptations of life. Sadly, they could not escape the onslaught of the Vikings, who announced their arrival in Medieval England in 739AD, with their vicious slaughter. The monks eventually fled, taking the sacred bones of St. Cuthbert with them. There is a Visitor Centre next door with some grave markers – one on particular has a vivid depiction of a Viking raid on it – oh, you can sample mead there too!
The Castle at Lindisfarne
There is the castle, built in the 1500s from the stones of the Priory. It is a gem of a place – an intriguing defence from the outside, a comfortable country home, designed by Sir Edward Lutyens inside, and it has spectacular views of the Northumbrian Coast and the Farne Islands from the battlements. A stone’s throw away is a sheltered haven – a cottage garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll. It must have been a little bit of gardening heaven on this exposed headland.
What else? The village itself, though it can get busy with tourists, hints at an earlier, gentler way of life when the villagers could relish the peace (and maybe frustration?) of being cut off from humanity for eight hours at a time.
A Place to Stay
We stayed at the Lindisfarne Inn at Beal – nice ensuites and you can take dogs!
A Place for Refreshment
We ate at The Barn at Beal – really good food , if not extensive menu on Fri and Sat nights with lovely views out to Lindisfarne.
The wildlife… seals basking on a sandbank, their haunting wails washing over the Priory. Whooping oystercatchers skimming across the bay. Sitting on the headland, suspended in time, I didn’t want to leave, and neither will you.