Overseas Travel

Lindisfarne: We Nearly Got Stranded on Holy Island

Holy Island, aka: Lindisfarne is a fascinating place to visit. But be careful, if you don’t watch the tides, you may get stranded there.

If you’ve never heard of Lindisfarne, or you have but don’t know much about it. Lindisfarne was where the Vikings first invaded England in AD 793. It was a very bloody event, which lead to the death of many monks and the burning of the monastery. This major event was the catalyst to the continued invasion of Vikings into England.

Connected to the mainland of England, by only a thin mixture of sand and mud flats, Lindisfarne spends most of its time separated from the rest of the world, due to the heavy tides which flow in and out cutting the island off for many hours throughout the day, depending on the season.

This means, that last minute decisions to visit the island can either leave you disappointed you couldn’t get across to the visit. Or, if you lost track of time, leave you stranded on the island with no way of getting back to the mainland.

Which nearly happened to my dad and I when travelling there.

We were travelling back from Scotland, on route to Newcastle, when we realised we would be driving right past this iconic island known as Lindisfarne. And, we were in luck.

If we timed the driving perfectly, we discovered; after checking the island tide times, there was a small window of opportunity to which we could make it there and cross, have an hour (maybe) to see the island (which is small anyways), and then cross back safely to the mainland, without getting washed out to sea.

Of course the weather was not working in our favour. We were driving in a terrible storm, and regardless of how accurate the tide times might be, we knew the road would be covered with water in no time, by how rough the sea was in the storm.

It was a close call to be sure.

We crossed the mud flats safely and made it to the island. But then discovered the main castle was closed to the public, probably due to the shocking weather. Which made it very difficult to stand outside and take photos. But I did it anyways – even if it meant raindrops would be captured in my photos. I needed to prove we had made it there.

Lindisfarne Castle
Braving the bad weather for that perfect shot. My camera had a hard time focusing with all the wind and rain. Those sheep don’t seem to mind though.

Stressed out and worried we would be stranded on the island, dad was pressuring me to hurry up and take the damn photo so we could leave LOL.

Time was flashing past so quickly, and we still needed to find the ruins of the burnt monastery, which was never rebuilt after the Viking invasion.

So in the failing light, in a raging storm, driving through some of the narrowest streets I’ve ever seen, and with just an under an hour until the tide would start blocking our way off the island – we searched for the ruins; and found them.

Of course by this stage, panic had set in for dad – so he admired what little ruins remained from the car – whilst I braved the storm once again for that perfect photo, to prove again, I had made it here.

Monastery of Holy Island
Capturing bad weather and raindrops in my photo – the remains of Holy Island’s monastery where the Viking invaded.

Okay, okay – I know I have pushed my luck. Stressed out and feeling nervous, we finally make it to the road which leads you back to the mainland. It looks bad – but there are still cars driving across from the mainland, so we figure we are good to go.

It was scary as hell driving back, I’m not going to lie.

The water was at road level, and with every rough surge of waves from the storm, the road would temporarily disappear from site. Cars were still heading over to the island from the mainland, probably to stay the night – but that didn’t really re-assure us, as were weren’t even halfway across yet, where the oncoming traffic was nearly at their destination.

But we soldiered on, carefully and calmly. And when we hit the last rise, where the road began to wind up the cliff side – we knew we had made it. And not without a second to lose.

As dad kept driving, I looked back at the road we had just crossed. And I couldn’t see it. Not one bit.

The road from Lindisfarne to mainland
What road, there’s no road here! The scary drive back to the mainland. Yes that is the ocean closing in on both sides of the road.

I am a freelance writer and content creator who designs website and manages social media. I also write travel and beauty for www.renaesworld.com.au, and a weekly beauty column for www.bondibeauty.com.au whilst managing my own personal travel and lifestyle blog at www.my-life-journal.com


  • Anisa

    Wow! Glad it all turned out ok. I saw Holy Island from the mainland but we didnt have time to go there unfortunately.

    • travelbugofficial

      Hey, thanks for the comment.
      Oh that’s a shame you didn’t have time. It really was spectacular.. even though the weather was shocking & was a big old rush.. it’s definitely back on my list of things to do, except this time I’ll visit in the summer LOL. And I might get accommodation on the island next time around too.. xx

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