Lindisfarne, Holy Island as the sun went down on a Saturday late afternoon in January. I don’t think I ever experienced such peace. A silence fell across the place, looking out over the water towards the mainland. I’m not religious. I wouldn’t even dare to consider myself spiritual, but there was something quite special about that moment. No traffic noise, no kids shouting, not even the sound of sea birds to disturb the tranquility of that place and time.
Click here to view the photo album of my trip: Lindisfarne. January 2017.
I put Lindisfarne on my 40 at 40 list because I’d seen photos of the scenery, the castle, the views. I wanted to go and see this for myself. There was no other reason than that. I know of St. Cuthbert, I know of the significance of the place, but that’s not what it was about for me.
Friday evening I spoke to CS about taking a road trip. I looked at the tidal times for crossing the causeway and it was clear from midday until 8pm. Providence? Perhaps. We set off Saturday morning aiming to arrive after midday. I think now that it would have been cool to arrive earlier and see the causeway under water, watch the sea give way to tarmac, and our path clear. The day was unnaturally warm for January, cloudy but dry. Perfect conditions for exploring.
I’m told that Holy Island is ‘manic’ in the summer; that we’d have been swimming in tourists. We were pleased we’d come when it was quiet. Our walk around the island, past the (closed) castle, along the rocky shore, into the lime kilns and along the lonely coast was disturbed by just a handful of people. I loved that. I don’t like places ‘ruined by tourists’ (the irony of that statement is not lost on me) or to have to dodge around people or tolerate noisy children. Especially somewhere like that. I think going in the summer would have been a dismal experience, even with bright sunshine and warmer temperatures. Experiences are impaired by those also experiencing.
We completed our circuit of the island, getting lost and disorientated by the dunes at one point, and then headed back towards the village and the Priory – which was also sadly closing just as we arrived.
But then I suppose that’s the issue with spontaneous trips. No planning, just going off and doing. You’re not always going to get it right. Although to tell you the truth, I’d rather do it my way than be thrust into expected patterns of behaviour.
We stopped at the Manor House Hotel for a quick bite before going up to the lookout tower to watch the sun set. It was a fitting way to end the day. No noise, no people, no words said, just a shared moment. Calm, peace, solitude. Looking out over the water you could feel the significance of the islands.