Holy Island hotels
Cut off from the rest of the world twice a day by the tides, Holy Island is a tranquil, unspoiled sanctuary unaffected by the march of time. It attracts around 650,000 visitors each year, yet has a population of hundreds.
As its name might suggest, the island – where the Lindisfarne Gospels were written in around the year 700 – is still a site of religious importance and a place of pilgrimage. Book one of our Holy Island hotels and discover the wealth of beauty and history this fascinating place has to offer.
The island is connected to the Northumberland mainland by a paved causeway, and it is imperative that you check safe crossing times before you set off and leave.
One of the most important centres of Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England, Lindisfarne Priory was founded by the Irish monk St Aidan in 635. It became the base for Christian evangelising in the north of England, and one of northern England’s most important saints, Saint Cuthbert, was a monk and bishop here. The Lindisfarne Gospels, which are among the world’s most precious books, were created at the priory. The building is now a ruin, but its dramatic rainbow arch still stands despite the tower above it collapsing more than 200 years ago. The gospels are held at the British Library, but there is a facsimile copy in the heritage centre.
Built in the 16th century by Henry VIII to defend the harbour, Lindisfarne Castle was turned into a holiday home by the founder of Country Life magazine in Edwardian times. The rooms remain largely unchanged. There’s plenty to explore, including an impressive entrance hall and furniture and fittings in the distinctive style of Sir Edwin Lutyens, the architect who revamped the interior. The castle also offers stunning views of the Northumberland coast. The colourful gardens are filled with sweet peas, hollyhocks, chrysanthemums and gladioli, as well as herbs and vegetables.
Holy Island is home to a wide range of wildlife, and part of it has been designated the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. It attracts birds from thousands of miles away, and internationally important species of wildfowl and wading birds spend the winter here. Look out for pale-bellied Brent geese flying in from Svalbard, pink-footed geese, wigeon and bar-tailed godwits, as well as grey and common seals.
Eating and drinking
For British classics, including sea trout, lobsters and oysters caught on the island, head to the Bean Goose, a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner. The restaurant adheres to Slow Food principles and has won awards for its eco-friendly efforts.
Pilgrims Coffee roasts its own Fairtrade coffee, and serves homemade light lunches, home-baked cakes and scones, including gluten-free options, ice cream milkshakes and herbal teas. A TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner, the café has a log fire and a garden and is dog-friendly. Pub classics, light lunches and a kids’ menu are served at the Crown and Anchor, which is also dog-friendly.
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