Monday, 8 May 2017

Day 48 Berwick-upon-Tweed to Holy Island and Back

3rd May 2017

Lindisfarne or Holy Island
Certianly the shortest day in terms of distance travelled and a section of route that should have been tagged on to another day. But Holy Island is not an easy place to reach by bus. Not only does the service run on only two days a week for much of the year, but the timetable is different every day, varying according to the tides.  The island is accessible from the mainland only by means of a lengthy causeway, that disappears under water twice a day as the tide comes in.  The bus service attempts to cater for visitors to the island as well as locals going shopping in Berwick and the need to give each group of potential passengers an appropriate length of time at their destination means that each of the two daily journeys can run at one of seven different times. Here is the Spring 2017 timetable
To plan my journey I had to establish the date I was travelling - May 3rd; then look up journeys in the columns headed "C" (for the outward leg) and "F" for the return (1230 ex-Berwick and 1705 from the island). If I'd gone the following week it would have been "A" and "C"  or 0905 and 1305!  The bus runs down the A1 from Berwick to Beal, where it turns off and follows a B road to the coast. At the end of the B road it enters the causeway, which is single track in places and part-covered in drifting sand. It all gives a feeling not so much of "around the edge"  as "over" it.

There were 8 of us on the bus from Berwick and, on arrival, another 6 waiting for the bus back. At
View through the bus window on the causeway
the end of the day the bus from Berwick arrived with six on (although not the same six that had gone in earlier!) and we took 10 back, including two passengers who hadn't travelled out with us.  Given that this is the only bus service to the island and the next nearest bus stop is five miles away I found this interesting to say the least.

My time on the island passed very quickly. A pub lunch - including an expensive, but obligatory crab sandwich (the island supports a handful of local fishermen); a look around the heritage centre, which manages to fill several rooms with a story of the island's history that basically goes - "a lot of monks came here and founded a monastery but then were forced to leave after the Vikings invaded. Not a lot has happened since."
Views from Holy Island

A walk onto the high ground above the ruined monastery to enjoy the views back towards the Northumberland coast and then back to the bus stop in good time to avoid being stranded for three days!

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