Walking the Pilgrim's Way to Holy Island
Ever since 635, when King Oswald gave the Holy Island of Lindisfarne to St. Aidan to establish his monastery, the island has been a place of pilgrimage. The road was not constructed until 1954 and until then the vertical poles were the only indicators of the safe route between the mainland and island. The sight of the poles stretching across the sand and mud is one of the most iconic views in Northumberland and to walk the route away from the road and follow in the footsteps of our medieval ancestors is a wonderful experience.
Walking across the Pilgrim's route onto Holy Island is a very different walking experience and unlike any other walk in Northumberland.
Advice for walking the Pilgrim's Route safely:
- Most importantly - you must work around the tide times so check the safe crossing times for the road first, basically the middle of the safe crossing times gives you low tide time.
- It takes about two hours to walk to the Island from the Causeway
- Ideally set off two hours before low tide – walking with the outgoing tide rather the rising tide.
- The Pilgrims route is about three miles long.
- Do not attempt to cross at dusk or in poor weather conditions
- Please do not attempt to cross the causeway at any other time. It is dangerous as the tide comes in very rapidly.
- Ideal footwear – barefoot or walking boots that you don’t mind getting very muddy. Wellington boots can be worn, but you might lose one in the mud!
- Tides and condition mean that the condition underfoot varies considerably – it can be very slippery in places. A good stick can be useful.
- Route – walking from Beal to Holy Island it is best to walk over the road bridge – being careful of the traffic. At the layby on the right-hand side (if you are looking towards the island) head out directly towards the first pole on the east side of the river and follow to the Island.
- If you don’t feel confident about walking across the sands you can always walk beside the road but please note it can be very busy and traffic is fast.
- Remember people have crossed to and from the island along this route for centuries – if you follow these tips it will be one of the best walking experiences you will ever have.
If you are not confident about walking the Pilgrim's Way alone there are professional walk leaders who lead guided walks across the mud:
A trip on the Holy Island Hopper service is the ideal way to make your walk across the Pilgrim's Way easier. Park on the Island and catch the Holy Island Hopper back to the start of the caueway or use it to reach the Island from the A1 at Beal where it connects with Arriva X18 and X15.