Our last day on St Cuthbert’s Way was a doddle. A short walk along country lanes and through fields and we were at the rail crossing – the last hurdle to the beach and tidal flats. The guidebook, Lindisfarne website and the rail crossing itself all warn that, under no circumstances, should you cross the tracks without first using the signal box to contact the rail operator to find out whether it is safe to cross. On arriving at the tracks it did not seem to me that there was any good reason why you couldn’t use your eyes to see whether it was safe – no train and you can cross, a train and you don’t cross. Far be it from me, however, to not follow safety instructions which, to be fair, were fairly easy to follow. So I picked up the telephone and spoke to the operator who immediately asked me to give him the location of the signal box. I read it out to him, only to be patiently told that “no that’s where I am, not where you are”. We eventually worked it out and were told what already seemed apparent – it was safe to cross.
At the beach we caught up with a couple of guys we had met the previous day who were tackling St Oswald’s Way, which also finishes at Lindisfarne. The four of us headed out on to the causeway together, discussing as we went whether we should cross along the causeway or along the Pilgrim’s Route across the tidal flats. Again the guidebook and Lindisfarne website warned against using the Pilgrim’s Route unless accompanied by a local guide. A few minutes on the causeway dodging the line of cars heading across to the Holy Island and a quick look at the mudflats which appeared to be fairly water free except for the odd puddle, combined with the knowledge that we had plenty of time before the tide switched to incoming and the decision was easy – out on to the Pilgrims Route we went. The mandated local guide requirement seemed a bit over the top as the Pilgrim’s Route was marked by a series of tall poles interrupted every now and then by a safety hut on stilts for any less than cautious pilgrim who does not set aside sufficient leeway for the crossing. The crossing was relaxing with the soft sand a delightful change, albeit that we should probably have worn shorts or rolled up our trousers as the middle section was fairly muddy and slippery. Within the hour and we were stepping up on to the terra firma of Lindisfarne Island.
Once on Lindisfarne we joined the throngs of other tourists enjoying a surprisingly sunny English April day walking the ruins of the Lindisfarne Priory and around Lindisfarne Castle, neither of which were present in St Cuthbert’s day. The Priory ruins date back to 1095 when it was re-established following the period of Viking raids and the castle dates back to the 16th century (although much of what can be seen today is the result of renovations in the early 1900s). Most importantly we had plenty of time for a pint and crab sandwich for lunch followed by scones for afternoon tea before taking the bus to Berwick.
For more information: see our post St Cuthbert’s Way – An Overview.