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The Happy Wanderer(s) – Day 5

We woke up to cloudy, gray skies and light drizzle – typical English weather – but nothing could dampen my enthusiasm for today’s adventure. We were going to explore Holy Island of Lindisfarne!

holy island

According to the official website, “In 635AD St. Aidan came from Iona and chose to found his monastery on Lindisfarne. The Christian message flourished here and spread throughout the world.  However Holy Island is not only a centre of pilgrimage. Its tranquility, spirituality and scenic beauty attracts a multitude of visitors to its shores every year. Undoubtedly, it is the jewel in the crown of Northumbria.”


Holy Island is linked to the mainland by a long causeway. Twice each day the tide sweeps in from the North Sea and covers the road.  But during daily low tides, the causeway clears of water and “safe crossing times” are calculated so that visitors can reach the island by car.  Nevertheless, travelers should remain vigilant if crossing near the extremeties…hence the warning sign above.


The tide is going out in this photo and it is perfectly safe to drive across the causeway at this time.  However, if the tide is coming in and has reached the causeway before you…


….you may become one of the many tourists that have to be rescued from their cars every year!

Pilgrim's Way

For those who may chose to embrace this crossing as a holy pilgrimage, there is the Pilgrim Way – A clearly marked route that links the mainland to the island across the sands and mud.


David and I chose to drive across the causeway and paused to read about some of the history of Lindisfarne before walking towards the interior of the island.


As we left the parking lot and made our way down a public footpath, we came upon this pastoral sight – Lindisfarne Castle – perched upon a natural rock outcropping. Quite breathtaking!

Flowers on the wall

Continuing down the lane, we were greeted by these beautiful flowers – Red Valerian – growing in the moss atop on of the many stones walls.


David – waiting for me to catch up and join him on the journey.


We were just one of many tourists making our way down the lane to the castle.


You don’t see this everyday!


My husband at the kissing gate but he failed to pay the toll.  Too many people…no kisses today!


Looking up at the castle walls and the arrow slots (or loops).


Entering the castle through the portcullis.


The dining room – notice the domed, but very low ceiling.


One end of the kitchen.


Small work area but quite a view from the window!


Ducking to get through the low doorways.


One of the bed chambers – beautiful barley-twist spindles on the bed, side table and candlesticks.


I believe this was a music and sitting room.


Out on the bailey and taking a look at the marvelous view….


….out over the bay and towards the priory ruins, situated at the upper left of the photo.


On our way to the lime kilns, we came across dozens of these lovely creatures…much bigger than the ones back home!


Another beautiful snail  – carrying his home on it’s back!


The lime kilns at Castle Point on Holy Island are among the largest, most complex and best preserved lime kilns in Northumberland.

These kilns produced quick lime for a variety of uses such agricultural fertilizer, mortar for buildings and whitewash.


David…peering out from inside the kilns.


Hiking on the castle field and sharing the view with dozens of sheep that wander freely across the island…


…while trying to avoid the hundreds of calling cards that they left behind!


The backside of the castle as viewed from the entrance to the Gertrude Jekyll gardens.


Thank you, Gertrude, for the natural beauty that you created and left behind for all to share in.


A wet and cold day in early June, but the gardens were still lovely.


Looking at plants that are new to me and definitely do not grow in Minnesota!


Heading back towards the town square with a view of the priory ruins in the background.


Another view of the priory…sitting in this same location since 635 AD. Amazing!


Retracing our route past the line of poles that mark the Pilgrim Way and back to our B&B before we head out for dinner in Beal.


The wine menu at The Barn in Beal.


Starting out with a small appetizer – venison pate’ served with Barn Chutney and endive.  Very rich and yummy!


David’s trio of lamb with vegetables in demi-glace’.


I’m not sure why I’m looking so doubtful…


…the seared pork medallions with baby vegetables and blood orange jelly was scrumptious!


After a full day of hiking and a delicious and satisfying meal, it was quite a relief to arrive back to our room for some much needed rest. 

Tomorrow was going to be another busy day!



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Filed under England, My Travels, Scotland

The Happy Wanderer(s) – Day 4

After a wonderful and deliciously filling English breakfast – farm-fresh eggs, sausage, beans, bacon, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes – 

carraw bkfst

it was time to say goodbye to the proprietors of Carraw B&B, Kevin & Leah, pack our few bags and head east towards the coast.

map day 4We would eventually head north to Beal (point D on the map), but before going there, we would spend the morning at Aydon Castle (point B) and the afternoon on the beach in Seaham (point C).


Setting our GPS for Aydon Castle, we were immediately redirected off of the main road and onto a lovely one-track lane. The first time I traveled to England, I was terrified of these tiny lanes and feared that I would perish in a head-on crash!  But this was now my third time traipsing across the English countryside and I was not daunted in the least.  David, however, sat in the passenger’s seat with eyes as big as half dollars!


Within half an hour, the road opened up and before us sat Aydon Castle – one of the finest and most unaltered examples of a 13th century English manor house. Set in a beautiful and secluded Northumberland woodland, it was originally built as an undefended residence, but almost immediately fortified on the outbreak of Anglo-Scottish warfare.


Here I am, taking a look at the outer fortified walls of the castle. They’re definitely showing signs of age, but I guess that’s to be expected – they’re over 700 years old!


Entering through the outer gates of the castle and amazed that many of the buildings are still intact.


David in the inner courtyard.


The manor house is on the left and the servant’s quarters and barn, on the right.


My favorite part of the estate – the orchard!


Another view of the orchard and manor house (not taken by me).


Walking around the perimeter of the grounds and listening to the sound of the river below.


Can you guess what this hole in the wall is for?

Here’s a hint:  inside the building, this is where the bathroom’s located.  You got it right…this is the sewer…leading out of the castle and down to the river below. Ugh!


Inside the great hall of the main manor house.


Can you imagine trying to stay warm with just one fireplace in each room? Brrr!


The kitchen area with a fireplace that filled the far wall.


One of the many sleeping chambers.


Up on the rampart walk that surrounds the inner courtyard.


I was increasingly intrigued by the plant life that had found a way to survive (without soil) in the tiny nooks and crannies on the castle walls and along the ramparts.  These were some kind of petite violet, growing in a bed of moss. Beautiful!P1060520

A new seedling that’s just beginning to take hold.

After a couple of hours at Aydon Castle, the weather has begun to change (for the worse).  Time to get back in the car and head to the coast – Seaham – a sea glass mecca.


My favorite beach for picking sea glass – once the site of a Victorian-era glass factory.  After years of dumping slag glass into the ocean, beautiful orbs and smooth discs of multi-colored sea glass now dot Seaham’s pebbled shores.


Looking to the north towards Sunderland. Lots of gravel to search through…lots of sea glass waiting to be found!


It’s just like picking agates along the shores of Lake Superior…except there’s tea and scones waiting for us when we’re done here!


Bending down to pick up a lovely piece of sea glass.


This aqua beauty is a keeper!


I found another amazing piece…this one deserves to be photographed!


An amazing English “multi” that will make a lovely piece of jewelry one day.


Introducing David to my English friend, Robert, and his dog, Lucy.


Interesting caves…waiting to be explored!


David – my spelunker – checking out the inside of one of the many sandstone caves.

DSC00010Some of the multi-colored pieces that we found in one afternoon.


Feeling very content with our little stash of sea glass, we headed back to our peppy VW and headed north towards Beal. 


Our route took us through a number of historical coastal towns.  Looking out over the North Sea was the beautiful Warkworth Castle.

Not wanting to pass up another historical ruin, we decided to make a U-turn to take a closer look at this ancient building…


…only to discover that our VW was capable of time travel!


A few miles further north and we found ourselves, once again, on a single-track lane…this time contending with cows that were in no hurry to go anywhere!


With the weather getting foggier and the rain falling in earnest, this sign was a welcome sight!


Fenham Farm Bed & Breakfast – a lovely oasis on this rainy and foggy day.


Heading to the main house to check in to our room – the Sandpiper – formally the cow byre!


Rustic and modern – all at the same time!


Camera tucked inside my jacket, we take one last walk to the beach before the day is done.


David’s ready to head out too!


These guys obviously don’t get much company…they were quite taken with our presence.


Looking out over Foulwork Burn…hoping to get a glimpse of Holy Island through the haze.


There it is….Holy Island and the Lindisfarne Priory…waiting to be enjoyed on the morrow!




Filed under England, My Travels, Scotland