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Guided Walks on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne

 

Holy Island in Northumberland is a nature reserve of international importance for its bird and plant life. It also has a rich history being the “cradle of Christianity” for pagan Northumbria.  There is always something interesting to see here and these walks, led by an experienced local guide, will introduce you to the many facets of life on Holy Island. 

 

Privately booked walks are available all year round.   They can be tailored to your groups requirements.  So if you are looking for a tour guide or walks leader get in touch.


We have a page on Trip Advisor.  Read what other people thought of their walk or add a review of your own by clicking the link at the top of the page.

 


Staying on Holy Island?  Why not try massage therapy to relax and ease aches and pains. Visit www.holyislandholistics.co.uk  

 


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2016 has proven to be a good year once again for Holy Island Hikes.  We're known to quite a few travel agents now who keep rebooking us.  And we sometimes see the same faces coming back for more!  As well as larger groups we see a lot of small family groups and we try to keep the pricing structure affordable for them.  We've had some very favourable reviews on Trip Advisor and also in one group's church magazine.


Summer was a long time coming with rather a cold spring.  This did affect insect numbers with not so many cinnebar caterpillars on the ragwort in the sand dunes in the summer.  It did not seem to affect the show of spring or summer flowers though.  The purple orchids carpeted the dunes in June and the marsh helleborine likewise in July.  The very rare lindisfarne helleborine did not seem so robust this year though.  Our late summer grass of parnassus was as splendid as ever.




We had our usual birds over the summer though not in large numbers.  The little tern which breeds on sites near the island had quite a struggle with the poor weather and its numbers country wide are worrying.  Autumn was exceptional for migrating birds with some new and rare species arriving.  I managed to see the white's thrush but not the siberian accentor!


There is no doubt that Northumberland in general and Holy Island in particular is becoming an ever more popular tourist destination.  I led a lot of pilgrims way walks in the early summer.  It really is a "must do once in a lifetime" experience and was made extra special on some walks this year by a young common seal (born in June) spending a lot of time greeting visitors at the bridge on the causeway.  In the latter part of the summer harbour and sand dune walks predominated.  With two groups I tried another version of the harbour walk which included the castle and this proved very successful.  I led walks for the Holy Island Festival in June and the Lindisfarne Festival in September - both very enjoyable events for locals and visitors alike.





Now its time to look forward to a new year and I've already got some bookings for summer 2017. One is a sensory walk for the blind so I'm really looking forward to the challenge.  I always try to adapt the walks to your requirements.  All in all its been a successful year and I've met lots of lovely people from all round the world.  I want more of the same for 2017.


Mary Gunn

December 2016


The Lindisfarne Festival:  September 1st - 4th




The second Lindisfarne Festival took place at the beginning of September in a barley field at Beal shore overlooking the sands across to Holy Island.  It was a great success with everyone having a good time - even better than last year.  Good music, good food, good drink, good company and good therapies! 

The organisers asked me to do a guided walk for the festival after seeing me doing one for the Holy Island Festival in June.

The site is positioned perfectly for walking the pilgrims way.  From the festival site its just a short walk down to the shore then to follow the poles across the sea bed to Holy Island, at low tide of course before its covered in water!  This follows the path taken by the saints and pilgrims to the celtic priory which was such a centre of excellence in the eighth century.  There's a tremendous feeling of openness and space out there with much to see and experience en route.  I was pointing out wildlife including the young seal shown with the festival site in the background. I explained landscape features as well as telling some local tales of whats happened when people don't treat this area with the respect it demands.  Walking barefoot enhances the experience but you need to carry your shoes for the beginning and end of the walk.  This walk is moderate and is suitable for people of average fitness. 


The walk was a very pleasant way to finish a tremendous weekend.  The walkers were very impressed with the whole experience. Plans are already afoot for a repeat next year! 



Mary Gunn, October 2016







12th November 2014

The Pilgrims Way - is it safe?


Summer is well and truly over with rain, wind and mist the norm.  But what a summer with many more people taking the opportunity to walk around Holy Island and escape the crowds.  This is the way to enjoy the real beauty of the island.  


This year I have been asked to lead groups on The Pilgrims Way walk more often than previously.  And I have noticed many more people walking the pilgrims way on their own.  This walk which goes over the sand from the mainland at Beal to the island was the route travelled by pilgrims visiting the celtic priory in the 8th century.  It was marked by stones then but is today marked by poles.  The encrusting barnacles on the poles show that they are normally underwater.  On a clear sunny day at the right state of tide this is a wonderful walk with a real sense of isolation in the middle of it.  But is it safe to walk on the sea bed?  


The official line is that you should not walk the pilgrims way without a local guide.  But many people are doing this.  Berwick tourist information are getting a record number of queries and giving them my number.  Some of the comments they're getting are quite facetious such as "We don't need a guide", "its not dangerous", "the water's only knee deep when the tide comes in".  The truth is that you would be out of your depth at the poles at high tide and there is a very strong tide that runs between the island and the mainland so swimming is out.  The real threat is that the tide swirls round the poles as it comes in and you could end up in the situation that whichever way you walked you were always going into deeper water.  Add to this a sea fret rolling in - you can see neither poles nor land - and you could be in a very nasty situation.


In the 1950's the pilgrims way was used by locals on foot and by car.  A couple died when their car broke down.  They left their car and became disoriented in the dark with a rising tide.  The man's body was found close to the car and the woman's weeks later on the other side of the island.  A local walking in after wildfowling got caught in the mist and was rescued chest deep in water by horse and cart after firing off his gun to attract attention.  The pilgrims way has been very little used since then -until now.


Our volunteer coastguards are often called out to cars that have driven into the north sea at the bridge on the causeway.  The drivers have failed to understand that you cant argue with the sea.  With the increasing casual use of the pilgrims way I fear their first call out to the pilgrims way is not far off.  But without the protection of a car will they reach you in time. 

Mary Gunn