Friday, November 10, 2006

Visit to Lindisfarne, The Holy Isle

When we go on a trip somewhere, we usually avoid the visitors’ centres and tend to wander around the towns, villages and countryside, enjoying the atmosphere, scenery, wildlife and buildings. Another highlight is, of course, the ‘eating out’.


Starting out from Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, we decided to take the shorter route across country, rather then heading for Newcastle and up the A1.

We stopped off in Hawick and enjoyed one of our favourite dog walks (with Henry) around the lovely park next to the river. The trees were beautiful at this time of year and the sun was shining.

Even Henry (normally a fractious and intolerant individual when it comes to other canines) managed to greet another dog without incident. Although the newcomer does look surprised by Henry’s rather inept social skills.

We arrived at the causeway to Lindisfarne and (having noted the tide times carefully) crossed by car.

Having reached Holy Isle, we couldn’t resist stopping almost immediately to walk along the margins of the fields and mud flats around the shore. There were some wading birds and gulls in evidence and I read that North Atlantic Grey Seals and Common Seals can sometimes be seen. A woman and two small boys were enjoying a picnic on the beach – hard to believe in November!

Henry got another walk during which we all managed at some point to fall down the deep and unexpected channels in the grassy margin.
We parked up in the visitors’ car park in Marygate (the village that you arrive in at the end of the causeway) and were gratified to be informed by another visitor that the ‘Pay and Display’ ticket machine was out of order: £2 saved!


As Rob (my husband) and I are both vegetarians, this can often be a slightly depressing affair. Our lunch on Lindisfarne at The Ship Inn provided the not unusual choice of pasta, vegetable curry and mushroom stroganoff. A portion of the plate was taken up with ‘salad garnish’ of lettuce, tomato and cucumber. I had the mushroom stroganoff, which was quite tasty, consisting of button mushrooms in a creamy, well-flavoured sauce, served with pilau rice and dusted liberally with paprika. Rob had the Thai vegetable curry and rice, served with the extraneous salad garnish, but also a poppadom and small pots of mango chutney and raita. The extras were a nice touch, but let down by the insipid curry. Although the service was efficient, neither of us enjoyed the experience. Only the main bar area was open at this time of year; the proper dining area being curtained off. The small round tables provided, had stools rather than chairs, and, in the busy bar area, we felt uncomfortable and unable to relax. We didn’t stay for dessert. Our two main courses with one coke and half a pint of cider cost around £19.

Afternoon Tea

There are a number of shops including gift and craft shops, two pubs, several cafés, and plenty of self-catering and B&B accommodation on the Island. There was also a centre offering mead tastings and (no doubt) mead buyings, but we didn’t indulge. After just a few minutes wandering around the pretty village,

we spotted Café Bean Goose and it looked so nice that we couldn’t resist going in for a cake and hot chocolate. We sat at a lone table in the same room as the ‘cake table’.

I noticed that the proprietor had sensibly added a convex mirror at the entrance to the room so that no unauthorised cake gobbling could take place. The cakes were delicious and were surely home made. I had a beautifully light chocolate sponge cake with chocolate butter icing; Rob opted for the mincemeat tart decorated with splodges of thick, white icing. The two waitresses were friendly, and although obviously busy, spared the time to chat. We sorely wished that we had come across this place before jumping into the first pub that came in sight. The lunch menu included the intriguing ‘mock crab’, which, if memory serves, was a cheese and tomato tart made with a local cheese. We left feeling relaxed and contented.

Priory, Harbour and Castle

On the edge of Marygate is Lindisfarne Priory, the ruins of a Benedictine Priory built in the late 11th century.

We headed down to the harbour with its picturesque upturned boats, recycled into fishermen’s huts,

and distant views of the castle on its volcanic mound.

We had thought about stopping off at IKEA in Gateshead on the way home, but couldn’t face the thought of the traffic after visiting such a beautiful, quiet island, and instead headed back across country and arrived home just as the sun was setting.
If you want to find out more about Lindisfarne, the following link is recommended:-
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