Thursday 25 July 2019

A Day Trip to The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

There will be a fair few people who will be shouting "I told you!" as they are reading this and in all honesty I can understand why. So many friends have been telling me for years to visit The Holy Island of Lindisfarne yet for some reason I've been ignoring them.

A Day Trip to The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

If I'm being brutally honest, the reason we had never made the day trip to Holy Island before was that I thought that there wouldn't be much on the island to occupy us for the day. When you ask people to explain why they love it so much you tend to get told about the castle and the priory, and I was always left thinking "and ...?" - I just wasn't sure that was enough to tempt us over.

But this year, having spent every Summer ignoring all the pleas for us to visit Lindisfarne, we decided to give it a go, and we discovered something very different to what I had imagined! Here's how to plan a day trip to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and why, when everyone is telling you that you must visit, you probably should!

Day Trip to The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Travelling to Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne is a tidal island just off the coast of Northumberland located between Bamburgh and Berwick on Tweed, accessed by a causeway the road to the island is effected by the tide meaning that twice a day it is impossible to access the island as the access road gets completely submerged in water. The tide times vary wildly from day to day and sometimes the crossing times would make it impossible to give yourself enough time to really enjoy a proper day trip. Checking the crossing times issued by Northumberland County Council before you travel is essential, a trip is best enjoyed when you can travel over early enough in the morning to get a good start and travel back in the late afternoon or early evening before it gets dark.

Our day trip was planned with military precision with the crossing times set for 10:00 in the morning and a return by time of 18:30 and, with a sunny day on the forecast, it seemed like the perfect time to finally tick Holy Island off the North East adventure list.

Day Trip to Holy Island of Lindisfarne

The drive up to the causeway was beautiful, choosing to take the scenic route via our favourite villages in Northumberland, the car journey was a real treat and in no time at all we were on the road across to the island, giggling like children at the thought of driving on the special road. No matter your age there is something very magical about journeying over the sea to Holy Island.

The main car park of the island was easy to find and located just off the causeway, costing £5.00 for the whole day. If you are making the trip my number one tip has to be to ensure that you have cash for the car park with you, we didn't so our experience started with us frantically dashing about trying to find some change.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Pilgrims Coffee

On the whole the foodie scene on Lindisfarne isn't much to write home about. The island is screaming for a destination restaurant and the food trucks that we saw dotted around the tourist hotspots did make me feel a little sad. There is, however, one place that is well worth a visit when you day trip to Holy Island in fact it was so good we visited twice in one day.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne - Pilgrims Coffee

Pilgrims Coffee hasn't been on the island that long but they have already established themselves as one of the best spots in Northumberland to get a cup of coffee. With their beans ground in a yurt next to the coffee shop, their lattes are absolutely incredible and I would happily drive over to the island just for another sip of their coffee - that's how great it is.

At peak times Pilgrims Coffee gets very busy with pretty long queues at the counter but if you happen to visit on a beautiful sunny day like we did it's worth knowing that there's a decent size outside area to sit in or, alternatively, there are a fair few tables spread across the three floors of the building.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne - Pilgrims

We had told ourselves we were just going to stop for a drink but as soon as I saw the treats at the counter I couldn't resist getting some food to share and on our morning visit we wolfed down a slab of coffee cake which was followed by a delicious almond scone in the afternoon.

I'm pretty sure it's impossible to go to Holy Island and not enjoy multiple trips to Pilgrims Coffee.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne - Pilgrims Coffee and Cake

Lindisfarne Priory

Lindisfarne Priory is one of the most spectacular sights on Holy Island and really is a beautiful place to explore. Owned by English Heritage and the original home to the Lindisfarne Gospels, the site has the most incredible history.  From the Monks who lived on Holy Island to the Viking invasions - there are plenty of stories to be told.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne - Priory

Although the Priory is in ruins, the rooms of the Priory can still easily be identified and it's so impressive how much of the building stands today. The rainbow arch is one of the most incredible features of the Priory and amazingly has survived despite the tower above it collapsing over 200 years ago.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne - Lindisfarne PrioryOf course some of us (and we definitely fall into this category) prefer mooching about over historical tours and we really loved wandering round beautiful old buildings, appreciating all of the intricate carvings, exquisite brickwork and admiring the spectacular scenery.

Holy Island - Lindisfarne Priory

Simon and I would never claim to be history buffs and we spent the majority of our time just ambling round the Priory capturing its beauty on camera, it really is the photographers dream.
Holy Island - Lindisfarne Priory

Lindisfarne Mead

You can't go to Holy Island without trying some of their famous Lindisfarne Mead! Fermented from honey, the Mead is unique to the island and apparently 200,000 visitors from around the world flock to Lindisfarne to try the Mead every year.

St Aidens Winery is the home of Lindisfarne Mead and their showroom is the perfect place to pick up a bottle or two along with souvenirs or, if you're feeling a little cheeky, there are free samples on the counter allowing you a taste without having to buy a bottle to try at home.

Holy Island - Lindisfarne Mead

The Wilds of Lindisfarne

It's impossible to explore Lindisfarne without ending up with slightly dramatic "wildling" style hair. The North East is pretty well known for its strong winds and the breeze on Holy Island is no exception, a short stroll along the beaches will send your hair crazy within moments but I promise you wont actually care because when it comes to pretty views and wildlife spotting you'll struggle to find anywhere as beautiful.

Holy Island - Beach Walk

When we first arrived on the island we'd been worried that there would be crowds of people everywhere that we went but somehow everyone seemed to disburse as we wandered around and there were moments when we were left completely on our own surrounded by miles and miles of incredible Northumbrian scenery. I guess that's just the magic of the island, there can be a load of visitors in a day yet it feels like it's just you there.

Holy Island - Beach Views

If wild flowers, bird watching and seal spotting are your thing then you are in for a real treat when you visit Holy Island. Although Simon can be somewhat of a reluctant adventurer once he gets out he loves nothing more than seeing wildlife and there as an abundance of creatures on Lindisfarne.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne - Beach Views

We spent ages watching the birds while we munched on our sandwiches, they are so tame on Holy Island that they sit at your feet, making the cutest little faces in the hope you'll drop a crumb or two for them.

The absolute highlight of the day though was spotting some seals just off the shore. I've never seen Simon move across the sand so fast in his mission to get a better look. They were just little heads bobbing in the distance and made us realise, yet again, that we really need to invest in some binoculars and a decent lens for the camera - we were really struggling to get a decent look.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne - Sea Views
My favourite spot of the day was St Cuthberts Island, a tiny remote island a stones throw from Lindisfarne. At low tide you can make the short walk across the beach to the island for brilliant views across the coast and a great vantage point for seal spotting.

If, like us, you appreciate a great view the short climb up to the Lookout Tower is a must - it offers a great 360 view of the island and coastline. The scenery from the hill that it sits on is also very special.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne - Views

Lindisfarne Castle

The other big tourist attraction on the island is Lindisfarne Castle, a 16th century castle perched high on a hill it's a real focal point of the island and is a must visit if you are spending the day on Holy Island. Owned by National Trust the walk to the castle is alongside the pretty harbour of the island and the walk alone makes the castle worth a visit.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne - Lindisfarne Castle

The Castle is currently without most of its furnishings offering visitors the opportunity to explore the empty rooms as well as the "Now You See Me" exhibition.

As National Trust members we were happy to dart in and take a quick look round but both agreed we'd much rather return and explore the Castle properly when it's full again. With admission priced at £9.00 I personally think if you don't have National Trust membership it's probably worth waiting until the castle is back to its full glory before you visit.

Holy Island - Lindisfarne Castle

We both really loved our first visit to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and haven't stopped discussing what a great day we had since our return. We were completely surprised by how easily we filled an entire day there and we're both keen to return as soon as we can to discover more of the magic on the island.

Every time I think I've seen all of the beauty that Northumberland has to offer we visit somewhere new and I lose my head all over again! How lucky we are!

Holy Island - Lindisfarne Northumberland

What you need to know

  • Lindisfarne is a tidal island so it is very important to check for the safe crossing times before going to the island. Tide times change dramatically day by day so please check here before you travel
  • Opening times of attractions and shops can be dependent on tide times so please check before you visit.
  • Lindisfarne Priory is run by English Heritage and costs £7.20 for adults and £4.30 for children
  • Lindisfarne Castle is run by National Trust and costs £9.00 for adults and £4.50 for children

Holy Island - Lindisfarne in Northumberland

Our visit to Lindisfarne Priory was complimentary with our English Heritage Press Passes however they had no involvement with this feature. 


  1. I haven't been to Holy Island since I was about ten!I'll have to put it on my list of places to visit :)
    Laura x

  2. So pleased you finally made it - I completely agree that a destination restaurant is VERY much needed! Hopefully, Pilgrims coffee will lead the way....

  3. Oh Chloe, I was definitely one of those people that would have told you to hurry up and get your butt to Holy Island! I visited when I was 10ish, but I definitely need a return visit, I think I'd definitely appreciate a lot more now as an adult.
    Your photos are amazing and definitely bring back lots of memories. :)



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