Things to do on Holy Island
Holy Island, also known as Lindisfarne, is a tiny isle a mile or so off the coast of Northumberland. Its history is one of ancient monks, medieval Christian pilgrims, and Viking raids.
If you’re after things to do on Holy Island, keep reading as we’ll show you around this rather mysterious location. It's only a short drive from our Berwick and Haggerston Castle holiday parks — 13 and 6 miles away respectively!
What’s on Holy Island?
A small but vibrant community live on Holy Island. You’ll get to venture through the quaint little village and admire the craft shops, eateries, and art galleries run by the locals.
Lindisfarne is religiously and historically significant, so no visit would be complete without experiencing the Castle and Priory.
St. Aidan founded this ancient settlement in the 7th century and it was once one of the most important religious centres in England. As you explore the ruins, you’ll see some of the beautiful architecture still standing, such as the ‘rainbow archway’.
From the ruins, you can look out at the sea and spot the Farne Islands. Learn about its rich history through interpretive displays and guided tours.
When you’ve soaked up the local history, pop into the gift shop and museum to check out the collections that include Anglo-Saxon relics and archaeological finds.
Built in the 16th century, Lindisfarne Castle was once used as a coastal defence against Scottish invasion. Since then it’s seen a colourful history, including use as a lookout post for the Royal Navy, a home for lighthouse keepers, and even a holiday home until the 1960s!
Today you can walk around the castle and experience the unusual mixed architecture and winding passages. There’s a craggy garden outside that’s maintained according to the original plans, with wildflowers to enjoy as you sit and take in the stunning surroundings with a picnic.
If you’re an art lover looking for things to do on Holy Island, stop by the Lindisfarne Scriptorium. The island's idyllic setting makes it the perfect destination to enjoy a day of art appreciation! The scriptorium showcases the original work of local artists and craftspeople, all with a religious, spiritual, or natural theme.
You can buy calendars, cards, art books, and prints as a souvenir of your visit — or as the perfect gift for loved ones!
You’ll find it in a quaint building in the main town area along Marygate.
Over the road from the Scriptorium, you’ll find this gorgeous family-run shop, nestled inside a building that dates back to the 1600s. You’ll want your spending money handy again, as this shop is filled with local pieces celebrating Celtic people and their crafts! Choose from books, stained glass pieces, and fine silver and gold jewellery.
Boat trips to the island
When the tide is going down, the sea reveals a causeway; a path from the mainland to the island called ‘Pilgrim’s Way’. While you can cross the causeway by foot or by car, be sure to check the tide as it will put the road out of action for a good few hours.
That’s why we think it’s best to travel in nautical style - by boat! For unique things to do, Holy Island boat trips are an unforgettable way to see the surrounding area.
Billy Shiel's Boat Trips
For a 4.5-hour trip, including two hours on the island itself, you can book with Billy Shiel’s between May and October.
Sailing from Seahouses, you’ll jump aboard Glad Tidings or St Cuthbert (the tour operator’s two boats) and enjoy sailing toward the beautiful island of Lindisfarne. On the way, you’ll have a chance to spot some amazing wildlife! Keep your eyes peeled for grey seals, nesting seabirds, and even dolphins playing in the water.
This trip is perfect for whole families including furry friends. On your way back, revel in the sights of the coast and Bamburgh Castle.
Holy Island walks
As far as things to do on Holy Island go, walks are right up there with the best. Here are some walks for you to consider when you pay a visit:
Upper Foreshore Circular Walk
Distance: 1 mile
Difficulty: easy, slight hills, dog friendly
The shortest of the circular walks, it makes for a relaxed, leisurely stroll, perfect for families with dogs. Make sure you’re wearing comfy shoes for this walk, as it can get a little uneven near the shoreline!
Start at the Chare Ends car park and walk right, out of the village. You’ll come to a bench that overlooks the gorgeous, rugged shoreline and meets where the Pilgrim’s Way connects the isle to the mainland. The path follows along the fenced area and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot lazy seals basking in the sunshine during the summer months, so have your camera handy!
Once you reach a small clearing after around 10 minutes or so, take the path down Lewins Lane and then onto Marygate. You’ll find the car park where you started up ahead.
Lindisfarne Priory and Foreshore Circular Walk
Distance: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: easy to moderate, some steep parts
This circular’s a little longer and takes you past the priory with some steeper areas to navigate.
Exit Chare Ends car park away from the village as before. When you reach the bench this time, follow the narrow path onto the sand and make your way along the rocky area. Eventually, you’ll reach the old lifeboat station building — walk past here to continue your walk, or pop into the museum here.
The path will start moving uphill and you’ll reach a churchyard. Walk through here and you’ll see the church, priory, and a statue of St Aidan. When you’ve marvelled at the historical buildings, continue on to the market square, turn right at the Pilgrim’s coffee shop and you’ll find yourself back in the village!
Holy Island Beach and Castle Circular Walk
Distance: 5 miles
Difficulty: difficult, only for seasoned hikers
Only brave adventurers should try this hike, as you’ll explore rocky, steep terrain and dunes around the perimeter of Holy Island.
You can start at the Chare Ends car park and away from the village. Once you reach the gate showing the tide timetable, you can walk through the dunes and follow the rugged path around to the rocky shoreline, a hidden cove, and Emmanuel Head (which is a white pyramid-shaped mark that stops ships hitting the island).
Follow the cliff tops around the island until you reach the castle. Explore the grounds and continue on the path until you see the village up ahead. Follow the road until Green Lane, and here you’ll find plenty of cafes to stop and refuel yourself after a challenging walk!