Lindisfarne: Holy Island
Off the coast of England lies a little island, abundant in nature and brimming with history, vulnerable to the whims of the rise and fall of the tide surrounding it.
You might not have heard of Lindisfarne, but if you've watched the show Vikings, you've certainly seen it... remember the island of monks where Athelstan was from? Not the best episode to bring up.
Also known as the "Holy Island," one primary appeal of this isle is the three-mile pilgrimage that adventurers take along its narrow causeway called "Pilgrim's Way." Every year, thousands of hikers trek from the Northumberland mainland to the island which is accessible only twice a day when the tide has receded. When twilight approaches, you'll see desperate walkers swiftly wading through the water to reach the mainland so as to escape the prospect of being engulfed by the rising tide.
In truth, it may not be the most exciting island, but if you're partial to history and you're already in the area of Northumberland or Edinburgh, Lindisfarne is worth a visit.
When you first arrive on the island, you'll enter Lindisfarne Village, a tranquil little village with quiet lanes and an evident slow pace of life. The village has a number of coffee shops and pubs for you to choose from, as well as a few inns should you decide to spend a night or two on the island. I suggest stopping into the Copper Kettle Tearooms for a spot of tea and a stack of scones smothered with clotted cream.
Built by monks nearly 1400 years ago, the Lindisfarne Priory was the original home of the brilliant work of art that is the Lindisfarne Gospels, now showcased at the British Library in London. Marvel at the ruins of the Lindisfarne Priory, exploring its magnificent arches, acquainting yourself with its rich history of Christianity and monks and Viking raids. The priory also offers grand views of the picturesque Northumberland coast across the water.
Dating back to the 16th century, Lindisfarne Castle is the most striking and iconic site on the island. The impressive views that the castle provides are sure to leave you in awe. It's a steep climb up the volcanic mound to reach the castle, but you could opt to take the Lindisfarne Shuttle that travels between the village and the castle every twenty minutes. Just beyond the castle is a structure called the Lime Kilns which leaves evidence of Lindisfarne's industrial history.
The castle is currently closed for restoration but is set to reopen in April of 2018.
St. Aidan's Winery
Home to the renowned Lindisfarne Mead, St. Aidan's Winery is located in the village center. You can visit their showroom and sample their mead, often referred to as "the drink of the gods." Bring home a bottle of their mead and some smoked cheese and biscuits for the journey back.
Take a scenic walk along the island's circular trail which leads you past the priory and up to the castle. The trail's length is about 1.5 miles and takes between 20-40 minutes depending on the speed of your gait. For a walking map and detailed directions, visit the National Trust website here.