Day 279: Marshall Meadows to Holy Island

Distance: 17.70 miles

Ascent: 1396 feet

Weather: Rain In Morning, OVercast with Sunny Spells Afternoon

Accommodation: Jackie’s House, Holy Island (Kindly Offered)


When I woke up, fortunately I felt absolutely fine and there appeared to be no effects from whatever issue/illness hit me briefly yesterday afternoon. Today was going to be a slightly strange day as this evening I was hoping to finish on Holy Island. This island has a tidal causeway (so I know based on my ‘rules’ I don’t have to do it) and today I wouldn’t be able to cross till about 6pm in the evening (this would not be ideal as would be getting dark and cold by time I was across but would just have to put up with that.) I had about 15 miles to get to the causeway so there was no point leaving early. Harriet kindly served a lovely breakfast about 9:15 and then James kindly dropped me back to Meadow Marshall to start the walk again around 10:30.

The forecast was for dry conditions until this evening, but as I set of it looked a bit ominous and within 10 minutes it had started raining and it got moderately heavy so I quickly changed into wet weather set up. The path followed the cliff and around a golf course before dropping into Berwick-upon-Tweed. It was sad it was raining as this was a lovely town with some nice architecture but I couldn’t risk using my camera or phone as it was too wet. There are three very impressive bridges/viaducts across the river here all from very different eras with a stone arch bridge, high brick viaduct and an interesting concrete bridge.

I needed to get supplies for today and tomorrow, so popped into the Asda on the way by. By the time I left the rain had stopped. I joined the promenade in front of Spittal for a while before the path climbed up onto the low slopes by the railway line. It was very easy going from here with some road, some gravel tracks and some grass paths all the way to Goswick.

It was clear when I got to Goswick that I was far to early for the causeway, I would be there about 2 hours earlier than official time hopefully only an hour and a half till I could start crossing. I sat down and ate the pie that Harriet had kindly given me and wow, I thought I didn’t like scotch pies but this was one of the best pies I have ever eaten it was amazing.

I carried on hoping there may be a shelter near the causeway, but just after crossing a sluice gate about a kilometer short of the causeway I came across a bird hide and thought I would sit in here for an hour which would protect me from the wind and likely rain. I decided to start writing up this diary in the bird hide so as not to waste time. This bird hide is not built well, it was swaying so much (half a foot at least in the top corners) and for a very simple reason it has no diagonal braces so essentially for the non-engineers amongst you it is like if you pushed the top corner of a rectangle it would become a parallelogram but one diagonal would make this impossible.

Anyway engineer chat over, I decided to head to the causeway a bit earlier in the hope it might be passable and as I was approaching just before 5pm there was already a car heading across so I was hopeful and starting an hour earlier than expected would be very useful for light and temperature. I set off to cross it about 5pm and it all looked fine if a little covered in water in places. I reached the quaint little refuge hut on stilts which is besides the road for emergencies though probably only used by idiots who drive onto the tidal causeway when it is covered in water. I was really enjoying the walk across the causeway and apart from the wind increasing everything was going well. When I was about ¾ of the way across two ladies (Jackie and Sue) who I had actually seen earlier in the day near Berwick-upon-Tweed overtook me on their bikes and they stopped and asked if I had accommodation and I said no and they kindly offered me floorspace for the night. I was incredibly grateful for this as there were a fair few signs saying about no camping on the island.

As Holy Island is actually outside the scope for my walk due to its tidal causeway, my ‘rules’ only include islands linked by bridges or non-tidal causeways I was not fussed about doing the whole perimeter of the island (I know some people will think this is cheating) and just walked to the main village and looked over to the impressive looking Lindisfarne Castle. I found Jackie’s house and she and her daughter cooked a lovely dinner of roast vegetables and steak which was amazing.

A really nice and simple day actually and though it rained early on the forecast rain for when I would be crossing the causeway did not come so even the weather behaved. Tomorrow fortunately the tide allows for an early crossing off the island.

charles compton