Thursday 11th June (Day 91 of 236)
After a wonderfully relaxing afternoon on the beach the previous day, where I once again failed to learn from many previous experiences and fell asleep in my chair, in the sun, and finished up with a burning face that glowed so much that it could guide ships into port in the dead of night !! However, it felt good to once again awaken naturally without the aid of the alarm clock and to be able to sit in bed with a nice hot cuppa and not have to click watch.
Today was a day that we had waited for, for such a long time, our chance to cross the Causeway that gave access to the very small village community on ‘Holy Island’ or is it ‘Lindisfarne’. The signpost upon crossing says ‘Welcome to Holy Island’ but then almost everything else on the Island is called ‘Lindisfarne’, very confusing !! The ‘safe crossing’ times today were between 13:20 – 21:25, so we had plenty of time, however, we had decided that we would get to the causeway a little earlier, in order to try to get some photo’s of the tide receding. How were we to know at the time that actually those safe crossing times do not accurately reflect the true time of the tides, so even if we had of managed to arrive early we still wouldn’t have witnessed the event as the tide would already have gone out well before, as it happened it was irrelevant anyway, but more about that in a moment or two.
Our first little task of the day was to visit the very handy Marks & Spencer Food store to stock up on Salad provisions !! Shazza has been feeding me this stuff for months now, and at least four meals a week, I am sure that my ears have got bigger and looking a bit floppy (yes, I am talking about my ears !!) and my two front teeth look slightly elongated and worst of all, I keep diving into hedgerows whenever I see the overhead silhouette of a bird of prey, okay I know I am always ‘rabbiting on’ but it’s getting a bit embarrassing now !!
Back at ‘Big Momma’ we got into our usual routine, Shazza in charge of the eatables department and me the beverages, it would be a late lunch but we were sure we could find a nice picnic spot somewhere on the Island.
It was another very warm and sunny day but with a few cotton wool balls in the sky and ‘white horses’ riding the waves out on the sea, so a bit breezier that yesterday but not gale force. We set off with a sense of excitement, so many people had told us how lovely this place was but we needed to see it with our own eyes. We turned off the ‘A1’ onto the only road that would take us to the Causeway and ultimately our destination but were horrified to see a sign on the side of the road that stated ‘ROAD AHEAD CLOSED’ !! Surely not, it couldn’t be, somebody was having a laugh !! We did the only sensible thing we could think of, we kept driving until we could drive no more. We were about the thirtieth vehicle in a stationary queue of traffic and all the while traffic began queuing behind us. We waited for a while but then curiosity got the better of me, I got out and walked to the front of the queue to see what the hold up was. We were still some distance away from the Causeway but in the distance I could see the Island.
The hold up was due to road works !! We were told that we should be permitted to carry on at 13:20, the official start of the ‘safe crossing’ period, it was only 12:30pm !! I returned to Shazza and ‘Wuxly’ and we sat and listened to the radio for a little while until we got bored, there was only one thing to do, eat our picnic !!
The designated time came and went and as every minute ticked away the queue of traffic behind us just kept getting longer until the end of it was out of sight. We started to discuss our options, we had no idea how much longer this delay would be, did we want to waste a valuable day off just sat in a traffic queue, where else could we go ? Several other’s must have had the same discussions as we saw a steady stream of three-point turns in the road, ahead and behind us, and vehicles containing disgruntled faces heading back towards the ‘A1’. I decided to take another wander to the front of the queue, apparently one of the JCB diggers had suffered a hydraulic failure and was in the process of being repaired, once that had been completed they could fill in the hole they had made across the road and open it up to traffic again. We decided to wait just a little longer and our patience paid off as the traffic started moving at around 2pm. The only problem now was the huge amount of people who were going onto what is a rather small Island, lots of cars, motorcycles, Motorhomes and even a steady stream of walkers.
Once across the Causeway it is still quite a fair distance to the car park outside the village but once there it filled up rather quickly. Of course we needed to pay to park but at £4.40 for a ‘All Day’ ticket I thought it was pretty reasonable, not that we had much choice in the matter. We had no planned route or itinerary, it would be just a matter of walk around and see what was on offer. We tried to keep away from the main throng of people, who fortunately headed into the village, we opted to walk towards the Castle.
We walked as far as the main entrance where we saw the usual ‘Information Board’ which told us that if we wanted to go inside the castle we would be relieved of £14 for the privilege !! Although, if we had happened to have been members of the ‘National Trust’ we could have got in for ‘Free’, we decided that all things being equal, there are some things that we can live without. Instead we decided to just meander our way around the shoreline and see what turned up.
The one thing that was constant from the minute we arrived and that was the very strong wind, even with the sun shining the wind carried an icy bite, so we decided to head towards the village where we hoped to find some respite from it. As we climbed back up from the shoreline we got our first glimpse of the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory.
I could have sat on the rocky shoreline for a lot longer but Shazza was feeling the chill and needed to find some warmth, I offered to give her a cuddle…………. we headed towards the village !!
Once again we came across the Priory so decided to take a look, I couldn’t believe it, this was a load of bricks, a ruin, but they wanted £8 to walk around it, we certainly walked around it, but from the outside !!
Now if Lyssa (Adventures of Big Bird Blog) had been the author of this blog, she would have spent hours here, she would have told you a lot about the history of the Island, the Castle and the Priory, unfortunately, you got me, a self-confessed history heathen so if you want to learn more about the history of ‘Holy Island’ you have three choices, you can ‘Google‘ it, come and visit it for yourself or wait for Steve & Lyssa to visit and then read what will be a very detailed and informative account of the history of this place.
We continued our meanderings with a walk through the small but very pretty village before returning to ‘Wuxly’ and making our way back to the mainland.
I am not sure whether it was the long wait sat in the car, the mass of people, or the strong wind that blew constantly, however, after waiting for so long for our day off to align with the safe crossing times I found our long-awaited ‘Holy Island’ a bit of an anti-climax. Sure it was a pretty enough place, but it had all the usual ‘tourist entrapments’ all of which came at a cost !! Had the wind have not had been so strong, had we not have eaten our picnic beforehand, we may well have wandered off to more secluded parts and enjoyed our experience a lot more. We didn’t dislike, or regret, the time we had spent here, it just hadn’t lived up to all the pre-visit hype or expectations, but at least it’s another ‘Must Do’ ticked off our itinerary. Perhaps, and it is only with the gift of hindsight that I can say this, we should have delayed our visit until we had an extended period of time off, a period where we could have gone across in ‘Big Momma’ and found ourselves a nice secluded spot to ‘Wildcamp’, to sit outside on a nice warm summers evening with a BBQ, and of course a nice bottle or two of chilled grape juice, and watch the sun set to the sound of the sea in the background. Now there’s an idea worthy of a bit more serious thought !!…………………………