The Holy Island of Lindisfarne is one of those strange, mythical places that until relatively recently I knew very little about. Of course I'd heard of the Lindisfarne Gospel (as a long time illuminated manuscript fanatic) but honestly I knew little else about this distant place.
A good friend of mine recommended visiting Holy Island and sang its praises as an amazing place to visit. Also, after watching the fantastic TV series 'Vikings' I gained a little more basic knowledge about Lindisfarne and its role in history. A few documentaries later and a bit more basic reading later and my appetite was suitably wetted.
Nothing had in actuality quite prepared me for Lindisfarne. I wasn't expecting what this incredible place had to offer or how it would make me feel. It was honestly nothing short of magical. And in reality, I cant wholly explain why.
The approach across the miles of causeway was in itself an unusual experience and felt like the beginning of an adventure. Knowing that the times of the tide are crucial and how quickly the causeway is lost to the sea there was a mixture of fear and excitement about it all.
The landscape itself was increasingly breathtaking the further from the mainland you go. This incredible swathe of low land which looks as though it could be washed away in an instant. Sand that goes on for miles, but you know it wont be that way for long. And there it was, on a mound of land erupting from the sea, Lindisfarne Castle. Everywhere around heather and wildflowers dance in the breeze and the grass which is pale as straw seems to sway with the sea. The sandy shores seem reflected in the buttery stone of the old ruins of the Priory which the Vikings plundered centuries ago.
I can't deny that Holy Island had a special feeling. Ancient, deep rooted, celtic. At the edge of England and the farthest North I've ever travelled in the UK I felt strangely at home. This rugged coast line is not something a landlocked Nottinghamshire lass gets to see very often, and it was just perfection.
And to top it all off, as with most great places people have lived, there was a lovely graveyard. Perched behind the Priory ruins surrounding the quaint little church sit many graves of varying age. Looking out to the sea almost surrounding it I never fail to see some beautifully poetic, hopelessly romantic aspect about being beside the sea for all eternity.
Seaside graves are always interesting. 'Lost at sea' 'Died in a great storm' 'Shipwrecked' are often some of the untimely deaths recorded, and generally stones decorated with anchors and ships pepper the cemeteries, showing the importance of the sea to these people, in life, and death.
My only regrets regarding Lindisfarne are that I did not visit this otherworldly place sooner, and that I did not get to spend more time in it on this occasion (down to the timing of the tide unfortunately). Lindisfarne was one of those rare places that before you have even left, you're planning your return. I desperately hope to make it back to Holy Island in 2019 and explore more of this breathtaking place.
For me The Holy Island of Lindisfarne felt like my own little Summerisle, only, I'm no Sergent Howie ...