Lindesfarne from afar

Published 20 February 2022

A glimpse of that Holy of Islands, Lindesfarne.

When I was in the early stages of planning our Northumberland Coast Path trip, one of the things I quite like the idea of was taking a day out of the walk and visiting Lindesfarne, also known as Holy Island. Alas it wasn’t possible. I was walking the trail with my friend Tal, and he – unfortunately – could only spare six days. Five for walking and one for travel. Five’s the minimum a normal person needs to walk the trail as far as I am concerned. So there wasn’t time for Lindesfarne.

To be honest, even if he’d had an extra day to spare, I probably would have changed the itinerary so we walked for six days rather than five. It would have been more relaxing. So there still wasn’t time.

There was the option of going after we’d finished the NCP. But my plan there was to carry on up the coast and walk the Berwickshire Coastal Path.

For a brief period, Lindesfarne was back on the cards. For during 2021 there was a point when the Scottish Government banned residents of the City of Manchester and the City of Salford from visiting Scotland. Yes, an actual ban. In the heady days of 2022 this sounds quite surreal, but due to high Covid rates in those two cities, residents were banned from crossing the border into Scotland.

Now I don’t live in either of those two cities, but I do live in Greater Manchester and throughout Covid-19 we’ve consistently had some of the highest rates of Covid in the country. Still do. And for a while I genuinely feared the Scottish Government would ban all residents of the county from going into Scotland. Which would have prevented by Berwickshire Coastal Path plan.

Now okay, I have absolutely no idea how anyone in the Scottish Borders was supposed to know I was from Greater Manchester had that happened. It’s not like there were roving police patrols. I could have slipped over the border completely undetected. It would have been really easy. But just in case I started looking to see if I could visit Holy Island instead.

As it happened, the Scottish Government got rid of its impracticable, unenforceable plan before the trip. So again Lindesfarne got cast aside.

It’s a shame. I would have like to have gone. I’m not religious but places like Lindesfarne have something about them. Something special. Almost magical. Everything about it said “visit me.”

It’s not the end of the world. I’m sure I’ll get there one day. It would just have been nice to do it whilst walking past it. I don’t regret the decision. I’m not going to beat myself up about it. But if I had my time again – and, importantly, circumstances allowed – I would have gone to Lindesfarne.

Instead I had to make do with viewing it from afar. From the mainland. A nice view, but not quite the same. I took some photographs of it. And every now and then I look at it and wistfully think back to that day. The day when I was so near to Holy Island. But also so far.

Oh well. Some day. Some day indeed.

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