Seafarer’s to Holy Island

Coastal Retreats Blog 1 August 2019

Shelley Franklin won a £100 Coastal Retreats voucher in July’s 24 hours with… guest blog competition for her review of her stay at Seafarer’s and trip to Holy Island.

We’d checked the tide timetables, the weather forecast was good, so today we were going to Holy Island. The causeway wasn’t due to clear until 11.45am, so we had a lazy lie-in and a late breakfast at Seafarer’s, our lovely holiday cottage close to the harbour in Seahouses. Then we jumped into the car to drive up the A1 and across the causeway to the island.

First, coffee and scones at First Class Food, a friendly family-owned cafe cum post office. Duly fortified, we walked out to Lindisfarne Castle, the iconic 16th century fortress perched on the south east end of the island. We listened to a talk outlining the castle’s history and the work that’s being done to conserve the building for the future. The guide showed us some wall paintings uncovered during the restoration work, probably painted in the 1600s by one of the soldiers based there to pass the time and brighten the place up!  

Lindisfarne Castle
Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island

Next stop was the ‘Summer Garden’ designed by Gertrude Jekyll in 1911 for the owner, who used the castle as a holiday home. The walled garden can be seen from the castle’s windows and terraces and stood out like a brightly coloured patchwork quilt in the surrounding fields. It was full of colour and buzzing with bees and Painted Lady butterflies. National Trust volunteers were hard at work tending the gardens and answering visitors’ questions.

Painted lady butterflies
Painted lady butterflies on Holy Island

We walked on around the Nature Reserve and stopped at a hide overlooking The Lough to see what we could see. At first glance, not a lot! But sitting quietly for 20 minutes or so brought its rewards. A pair of swans with six cygnets, a moorhen amongst the reeds, swallows skimming over the water, a lapwing taking off from the field beyond the lake, and a deer briefly startled from its cover in the long grass.

Swans at Holy Island
Swans and cygnets at Holy Island

The path eventually led us back to the village, still with time to visit the Priory. After a look at the exhibition on the priory’s history, we explored the ruins. The colours of the stones were vibrant in the late afternoon sunshine and there was a lovely sense of peace and calm about the place.

Lindisfarne Priory
Lindisfarne Priory

Our final stop was the Lookout Tower, an old coastguard tower that has been renovated and now provides visitors with a 360° view over the Priory and the rest of the island. A great place to review what we had seen through the day and to reflect on the lives of the people who have lived here over the centuries.

After a memorable day, we headed back to Seahouses. What shall we do about dinner? There are lots of options for eating out in the town and the kitchen in Seafarer’s is fully equipped to cook up a delicious meal. But today, tired out from our exploration of Holy Island, we decided to have pizza at the cottage and put our feet up for the rest of the day!  

Shelley Franklin

How to enter August’s guest blog competition

Email your entry in no more than 500 words, with 24 hours with… in the subject line, to by midnight on August 31. For more details plus the terms and conditions, see here.

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