I love Holy Island [near Berwick-upon-Tweed, AKA Lindisfarne].
I used to live in the area and was a regular visitor then, but I fell in love with it during a visit many years earlier with friends. Over the years, over repeated visits, I keep discovering new places – something still surprising considering the place only covers about 2 square miles.
Last Sunday, we travelled early to catch sunrise at the tidal causeway. The weather was expected to be calm, clear and cold, so we were both wrapped up in several layers. Parking at the causeway carpark, we walked as far as we could across the causeway (photo). Brian set up his tripod & took photos.
There were lots of wading birds around – curlews, oystercatchers, turnstones, plovers, all of them looking very similar in the pale pre-dawn light, despite the size and colour differences. We had a clear sky so when dawn arrived the sky and whole scene brightened quickly. The first cars (shop vans, actually) crossed at about 8:20 returning soon afterwards with maybe the Sunday papers or fresh milk.
We soon took this cue and also crossed onto the island, the first occupants of the main island carpark, where there were some birds at the far end which appeared to be grazing geese until I got my zoom camera out and it turns out they were a flock of poking curlews!
We walked round to the harbour, with its view of the castle and the many boats on & off the water. The main interest here for Brian was the upturned boats featured in the controversial original winner of this year’s Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. While we were in this area, two cars full of people arrived and the occupants set off towards the uncovering rocks to the south, I’d later see them searching in the seaweed presumably gathering mussels into their buckets.
Something caught my eye – a bird trapped inside one of the many lobster creels. It had probably taken the one-way route intended for the lobsters – and the string net was now holding it prisoner. Some sort of thrush I think – maybe a young one. It was still fluttering around so had perhaps been there only a few hours. Using my nail clippers I cut the string and held it open but it didn’t take the hint so Bri had to go in and bodily remove it – it was fine, flew off into the rough grass cover. Phew (with apologies to the owner of the lobster pot).
Around this time they started ringing the bells at the main church near the Abbey, and I was reminded it was Sunday and the island would therefore be full of godbotherers.
Now, we were starting to get hungry (despite the two slices of toast before leaving the house). We chose a place we’d not been inside before, the Pilgrim Coffee House, a lovely place which appeared to only have one table available although apparently there are more upstairs. There was a young couple sitting on the armchairs next to the fire, above which was a notice detailing the free Wi-Fi password (result!). The only other free seats in this main area were on the sofa and while we ordered our cooked breakfast and coffee, a couple of older women came in and decided to sit in front of the fire, and next to (between) the young couple. They then proceeded to confirm all my prejudices about large middle-aged jolly women and talked to the young couple incessantly, as if they’d known them for years, in really loud voices. I now for instance that W2’s son is teaching himself Portuguese because he wants to live in Brazil (goodness knows why, she says, as he’s a talented chef) and she recently has a brain aneurism fixed by them “going up the groin”. W1 used to be in PR (really?!) – did they know what that was, yes says he, I do it for a living, ha. At one point the quieter younger couple interjected (at a suitable breath-take) that they had just got engaged last night – which to me meant they were therefore on a romantic weekend break and therefore could they kindly be left the fuck alone – older women said wow etc but then immediately started talking about themselves again. During this whole time we had no choice to listen, while we ate our delicious massive breakfast and quietly surfed our phones.
Onwards from the café we headed to the Mead shop (it’s the law) and also bagged some free out-of-date apple pie spice.
Walking on the shelly & sludgy muddy beach behind the main chapel we passed lots of Sunday-dressed walkers now released from the church and a few of them had walked across to the little spin-off island with the ruined chapel and massive cross, and were now hugging and singing and taking phone-photos. We managed to avoid this.
Investigating the largish boathouse on this beach I noticed for the first time a couple of orange ceramic plaques which appeared to be telling me that this was a lifeboat station built in 1884 – now a shelter to pigeons, mostly.
After a quick visit to Field Flowers’ grave, we headed back to the carpark. On the way down onto the causeway we saw a kestrel hunting so I stopped and luckily got a good shot of it perching on a small pylon near the road. Back on the causeway we stopped while I took some fairly close video of a feeding curlew (vid to follow).
By this time there was still a couple of hours until sunset but the tide had turned and we’d finished with Lindisfarne so headed down to Bamburgh as Bri was planning to take some beach sunset photos. Now even though we’d been prepared and were both wearing lots of layers, I decided to stay in the car and enjoy the beach from afar while reading my Kindle – so Bri headed to the beach alone.
Time passed quite quickly and the once-clear sky clouded over and provided some OK sunset shots. Bri hung around on the beach for a long time after the normal photographic cut-off but I could still see him standing in the gloom, I presumed he was planning a darker shot. By this time I was reading my Kindle by the torch app from my android phone.
I found out afterwards that Bri was “trapped” on the dark beach by the presence of a mysterious couple of figures. He describes them as being dressed in very long hooded capes and they glided across the rocks almost floating above them, but bizarrely they were dragging two shopping trollies each. They had approached very closely making him uncomfortable, then watched as he packed his camera up then moved away when he came back to the car. Sadly it didn’t occur to him to get some photos of them.