Rain fails to dampen spirits of walkers

ONE of the more distant Morpeth Footpath Society walks took place on a recent damp Sunday at the end of our brief Indian Summer.

Fourteen members and guests met at Beal before walking over the causeway to the island which was known as Medcaut in Roman times, but which nowadays is called the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

Walking across the causeway, which is covered by the North Sea twice a day (so imperative to check the safe crossing times), we could see the markers in the misty bay for the 11th Century Pilgrims Path across the sands — the walk to Holy Island is also part of both St Cuthbert’s and St Oswald’s Way long distance walking route.

Arriving at the village we escaped the drizzle and took a short snack stop in a bus shelter before heading through the village, past an impressive display of home grown vegetables for sale by an enterprising villager, towards the imposing Lindisfarne Castle, which is now owned by the National Trust.

The castle was originally used as an Elizabethan fort, but was acquired in 1902 by Edward Hudson, founder of Country Life magazine, who engaged Sir Edwin Luytens to restore the castle the following year.

From the castle we passed Gertrude Jekyll’s Walled Garden before entering the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. It was no longer raining so we stopped for lunch at Emmanuel Head where we watched seals enjoying the calm waters and migratory birds heading south, possibly towards Druridge Bay. In the distant gloom we could see the outline of Bamburgh Castle.

After our lunch stop we returned back towards the village via The Lough, where there is a bird hide, and had a look at the lime kilns before climbing The Heugh, where there are splendid views over the Priory which was, and still is, one of the most important centres of British Christianity.

The Priory was founded in AD 635, but was abandoned by the monks in AD 875 following frequent Viking raids. The monks fled south with St Cuthbert’s remains and founded Durham. The Priory was re-founded in 1082 by the Benedictine Monks who moved back to Durham in 1536 after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Sadly it was then time for us to leave the island and walk back along the causeway before it was covered by the incoming tide. Fourteen of us in the refuge for those who misjudge the tides would have been a tight squeeze.