• A bit from me...
  • Holy Island Causeway: user safety
  • Holy Island village hall rebuilding appeal
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • Exotic visitors brighten the island Spring
  • Natural England Lindisfarne NNR
  • The "new" Berwickshire and Northumberland marine nature partnership
  • Shoot for the 2017 visitor guide cover
  • Guided walks celebrate ten years of coastal path
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • From the community of Aidan and Hilda
  • From the Vicarage
  • Pause for thought
A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

Dear !*NAME*!,

Welcome to our June issue of Sitezine.

Following a hot and sunny May the dull skies are with us as I write after a very wet day yesterday. But with the weekend upon us it is becoming much drier and things feels on the up-and-up once more. Our Swallows have returned safe and sound and are busily rebuilding over the front door. Summer is definitely on the way...

Those who visited last weekend may well have been surprised by an island wedding going off with a traditional bang as the newly-weds led their guests out of the churchyard beneath a 'shotgun arch'. You might have passed the 'Oasis Cafe' and noticed the two bright-red, London buses on hire to take the party off-island for afternoon celebrations. What a pity that our new village hall couldn't be ready in time to host it as its first village event.

If you stayed over, you might well have enjoyed the professional performance of the wedding choir, 'Weighton Waytes', in St.Mary's. Well done musical director, Carole Readman, I look forward to next year. Thank you so much to church warden, Mark, who, on behalf of the PCC fascilitated a memorable event. And it has to be said that, whilst wedding flower arrangements are always superb, never have I seen the fronded chancel arch looking more beautiful.

LINDISFARNE ON LINDISFARNE!! Michael has written with details of the Holy Island Festival. Being Holy Island, obviously the headline act must be the group 'Lindisfarne' who will be appearing at the new village hall (Crossman Hall) on 25th June. And there's lots of other worthy performances to suit most tastes taking place during the festival weekend.

Quite unexpectedly and out of the blue, Paul, who is on sick leave, sent in his reflections on "The funny thing about faith". You are missed, Paul, and we sincerley hope this is a sign that you are now on the road to recovery. For a vastly different reason we are again without an input from Rachel who is on sabbatical leave and expects to be back during early Autumn. We look forward to you both returning - with fully-charged batteries! Thank you to all who are helping to keep our churches alive during their absence particularly 'Canon Kate' who has once again stepped so ably into the breech. This month she has again sent in another thought-provoking article, 'what do the angels sing?

Regular author, Elspeth includes a host of forthcoming events which might also enhance your holiday in 'North Northumberland'. Checkout 'Airship Northstar' and steampunk and dieselpunk. Whatever they are it must be worth a look! I remember when we first came to the island and Birdman, my friend the late John Collins, pointed out that our 'Straight Lonnen' had held the British bird record for the largest number of bird types seen in a single day. Ian Kerr's article is as always topical with 'Exotic visitors brighten the island Spring '. From the castle, Nick reports on even more work underway to protect it from the elements. Mhairi talks about the seasonal work on the nature reserve and has included a picture of children from Lowick and (our) Holy Island school lending a hand. Ray's article, perhaps, is another 'pause for thought' reminding us of our own falibility. David, recounts the tortuous pathway followed by the village hall committee which led to our unbelievably-fabulous new "Crossman Hall". After all the hard work I'm sure that the equipping of the kitchen isn't going to take long to overcome.

Finally, I make no apology for re-publishing Claire's Summer events programme together with "Shoot for the 2017" which gives readers information on how they might get their photo on the front of next year's Northumberland visitor guide - and pick up £150.00 in doing so! I also include dates for walkers' diaries "Guided coastal path walks" with Iain Robson.

We hope you enjoy our newsletter and look forward to getting in touch again next month.

God Bless - Geoff Porter

PS: Many overseas readers may well have heard that a nationwide referendum is being held on Thursday, 23rd June to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union. Feelings seem to range between acute and apathy - possibly because, of neccessity, information from either side is sparse and seems full of spin. Readers have reminded me in the past that our newsletter must remain apolitical. But I will say: whichever way your feelings, reasoning  or inclinations persuade you I urge you not to sit on the fence. Take that step and VOTE!!


Causeway and Road were discussed under 'matters arising' at the meeting of our Parish Council on Monday 16th May 2016. It was reported that, at Dougie Watkin's suggestion, PC councillors had attended the 'NCC Area Meeting' on May 9th which presented an opportunity to raise and discuss the problem with relevant council departments.

Whilst the finer detail has not yet been agreed it is understood that to deter sea water from lying on the road surface: drainage ditches are to be dug on either side of the road between the Snook and the Bridge.

So far as the salt marsh adjacent to the roadside between the Snook and Chare Ends is concerned, HIPC will attend a 'Causeway Meeting' in the next couple of weeks to have further discussions with appropriate senior NCC management and decide upon a plan - and hopefully agree time scales.


It began more than 15 years ago and although there are several jobs to be completed, rather than hang about until all is ship shape and Bristol fashion, the hall is ready for use.

It is worth remembering as we enter a new stage of community activity on the Island that the new hall is not just for use today, it will also provide for our children, grandchildren and for generations to come.
The project began in 2001.  Independently the Trustees and Community raised over £300,000.  Along the road to realising our dream we lost several supporters each who worked tirelessly to see this vital project completed.   The new Crossman Hall stands in tribute to them all.

There has already  been a mention that The Crossman Hall is ready for use and that Lindisfarne, the group, will be first to perform in the hall on BBC Radio 2. I expect the successful building of a new gathering place on this small Island will be picked up by other media as we prepare for an official opening.

It's good to remember the milestones of our mammoth task which was organised in three stages.  At every stage we have jumped, tapped danced and hula hooped through various processes and procedures to achieve our goal.  It's fair to say we have all become Hula Hoop aficionados, just ask us to give you a demonstration!

Here's a brief synopsis of the road we have travelled.

Stage 1. Acquire consent to demolish, jump through a range of bureaucratic hoops; appoint a demolition contractor and consultant Archaeologist.

Stage 2. Seek financial support from grant aiding bodies. Involve University of Newcastle in planning exercise.  Hold a competition to appoint Architects & appoint a successful Practice. Survey Islanders of how they would like to use the new build and discuss with the Architect. Jump through more bureaucratic hoops. Arrange a geotechnical ground survey and appoint an Archaeologist.  Acquire Planning consent to install foundations and services.  Hold competitive tender for Principal building contractor. Planning Consent was secured, but all works still had to be approved by the County Archaeologist.

Stage 3. Leading up to the third phase, we bid for help from the Big Lottery Fund (BLF). After a long three stage project evaluation, the BLF granted the project a substantial award.  With finance secured the full Team of Professional advisors came on board; Structural Engineers; O&M Specialists & Quantity Surveyor and of course our friendly Consultant Archaeologist.  A group of contractors were invited to bid for the construction work and MT Richardson was awarded the job and has delivered a great work, the proof is there for all to see.  However, we still had to wade through those bureaucratic hoops. But it's done now.

Incredibly the job has come in under budget, according to the Quantity Surveyor, by £34,000, which is no mean feat on a project of this stage, scale and complexity.  The Trustees were of course delighted and we immediately flagged up an application to use a 'variation' to spend some of that underspend on providing the kitchen/bar area.

Disappointingly, although we are below the total award made to the project by the BLF, there is resistance to permit a variation of unspent funds to provide the vital small kitchen and bar area. As we are so very nearly finished but currently without a kitchen, that leaves us limited in what we can use the hall for. The saying, don't spoil the ship for a hapeth of tar springs to mind.

Enough of my moaning;  We've got a great building that will work for most needs, but just remember when you come for a pie & pea supper, to warm the pie at home and fill your flask.

Again, thank you all, near and far, for your generous support and encouragement.

David (May)


The Lindisfarne Story Band will christen the brand new, state-of-the-art £1million village hall to top this year's Holy Island Festival.

The group - including Lindisfarne founding drummer Ray Laidlaw and frontman Billy Mitchell - will play the new hall's first-ever gig on Saturday June 25.

Although the Tyneside 1970s folk-rock outfit took their name from the historic island off the Northumberland coast, they never played there professionally - but they did rehearse in the old village hall. Now, 45 years on, the band will perform their smash hit 1971 album Fog on the Tyne at the hall where it was born.

The group - also comprising Tom Mitchell on guitar and piano, Michael Bailey on bass, Mark Anderson on guitars and Rachael Bailey on violin and accordion - will play the entire Fog on the Tyne album in sequence.

The seminal LP, which was the biggest selling UK album of 1972, features anthems like Meet Me on the Corner and the title track Fog on the Tyne - the song that got the group banned by the BBC. The 90-minute show will be topped and tailed with other classic hits including Run for Home, Lady Eleanor and Clear White Light.

The photoshoot for Fog on the Tyne was done on the island and the inner LP sleeve featured scenes and characters the band knew well from their stays there, including the Britannia B&B and the former Northumberland Arms, now the Ship Inn.

Ray said: "We've never forgotten our roots. I've had friends on Holy Island for 50 years and some of them are still there. Others have been away and returned. That's the power of Holy Island - it draws you back. In the very early days of the group we spent a lot of time there. Our most successful album Fog on the Tyne was born on Holy Island and now we are bringing it back home.

"I remember the old village hall fondly and when I was up on the island on holiday recently for my 40th wedding anniversary, I saw the new village hall almost complete and contacted the Holy Island Festival to see if we could be the first band to play there. We're thrilled to be doing it - it's completing the circle."

Rhythm and brews

Island businesses including the Crown and Anchor, the Ship Inn, Pilgrims Café, and Oasis Café actively support the event. A bespoke festival ale - appropriately called Lady Eleanor - is being created especially for the occasion. Venues will host other musicians from the region too including Anna and Martha Raine, Jenny Lascelles, The Pastures, Pons Aelius, Small Hall Band, To the Blue, Treble in Mind and the Tweed River Jazzmen. There will be dance performances from Anthony Lo-Guidice and Lizzie Koltz.

Meanwhile The Unthanks - who have just won the prestigious BBC Radio Two Folk Awards album of the year with their Mount the Air release - will headline the festival bill on Sunday night at St. Mary's Church.

David O'Connor, trustee of the Holy Island Village Hall, said: "We are delighted that Lindisfarne will play the first concert at the new hall as part of this year's Holy Island Festival. This is a fulsome and exciting tribute to the island community who have worked hard to rebuild their hall."

The new Crossman Hall is named after the Crossman family, owners of the Island and long-time supporters of the Island. Lady Rose Crossman MBE gifted the land for the hall to the trustees. The rebuilding appeal received a substantial grant from the Big Lottery Fund, supported by local donations and generous benefactors from near and far. The old hall was closed for safety reasons in 2005 and demolished in 2007.

Before its closure, the hall was used by the Mothers Union, knitting circle and keep-fit clubs, as well as for billiards, bowls, boxing and dances. Most of these are expected to re-start when the new centre formally opens, along with a book exchange, health clinics, youth club and a choral society.

The new hall will also be used by the parish council, Fishermen's Society, Holy Island Development Forum and Development Trust, plus tourists and pilgrims.

This year the Holy Island Festival is partnering with the Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership. The Heritage Lottery funded project is being delivered over the next two years and aims to increase awareness of the north Northumberland coastline, its beautiful natural and built heritage and provides a number of volunteer and education opportunities.

As part of the festival, the partnership will deliver a range of cultural and natural heritage activities which link to some of the projects being completed as part of the scheme. This will include showcasing the Community Geology, Archaeology and Archive projects. Members of the landscape photography project, being delivered by Emma Rothera of and a resident on Holy Island, will also be exhibiting photographs in the Window on Wild Lindisfarne building. Festival-goers will vote for their favourite photos with the winners receiving prizes.

Newcastle-based Let's Circus - the resident professional circus of the North East - will showcase their acclaimed family show on both Saturday and Sunday and amateur youth partner Circus Central will provide workshops for the young and young-at-heart to try their skills such as trapeze, juggling and acrobatics in the black-and-white big top The Magpie.

Chair of the Holy Island Festival group Reverend Dr Paul Collins said: "Celebrations in 2013 for the Lindisfarne Gospels identified an interest in more events for visitors, islanders and residents across Northumberland and the Borders.

"Last year's inaugural summer festival celebrated four days of performing arts including music, singing, dancing, circus and theatre, offering something for everyone. We are really excited at this year's great line-up and we hope the festival will become an annual event."

Anne Graham:  07790 675 849
Michael Hamilton:  07976 365 776


The project has been ticking over nicely in the background for a few months now since the major works in the winter came to an end, but in the last few weeks things have intensified again at the Castle. Those of you who have been this way recently may have noticed a scaffold tower on the Upper Battery - this is so masons can get at the south wall of the western building where they have hacked out, filled, pinned, pointed, and rendered the wall. This is the same treatment given to the adjacent south west facing wall (part of the Upper Gallery bay window) and means we now have a much larger surface area which, on the outside at least, has been fully restored. We have also done work to the unusually high (5 foot) parapet above this wall. All of this is to ensure the structure is breathable so we can run plaster trials on the inside face and this should all happen later in June and be evaluated later in the year.

One relatively new item to report is that the part of the work which will be repairing of existing windows in the Castle will now include the reintroduction of opening windows in some areas. This will allow ventilation to be brought to some areas of the Castle which get little or none at the moment and is also a more controllable way of getting air into the building than having big doors standing open all day. Our glazing specialist is going to be fitting one of these openers to the Kitchen window range soon so we can test it out, along with all the other trial works.

A few Mondays ago we had a major drainage survey which sought to understand where all the drains and pipes were and what sort of condition they were in. We could bash on with works like those mentioned above but if our roofs, gutters, drains and downpipes are not working we'd be in trouble. Cameras were inserted through most of the network of pipes under floors and behind walls, while it felt like most of the Lower Battery had its flagstones lifted. I don't envy the engineers trying to compile all of the information they gathered on the day, but it will certainly make for a comprehensive survey when all said and done.

Plans for later this year and next year are ongoing and hopefully there will be more definite information available on what is happening soon. A lot depends on the tendering process and the work programme that will come out of that. Stay tuned.

At the shop Mel is getting a new plant bench for the back garden, which sounds trivial, but in fact means that she can expand her garden range to include more variety of plants. Given the poor weather and frosts in April it is just as well she has left this until now! Inside there are plenty of promotions going on and with summer due on the Island anytime (!) there will be related stock arriving soon so look out for that.

Lindisfarne Castle
01289 389903


Our lovely island has always had a reputation for attracting rare and exciting migrant birds  and this spring has certainly lived up to expectations, keeping it very firmly on the birdwatching map of northern England.

May is always eagerly anticipated by birders as it's the peak period when species moving from Africa to breeding areas in the Arctic, Scandinavia, the Baltic states, Russia and other parts of northern Europe, regularly pass up the east coast and, hopefully, drop in to feed and rest.

So it's proved this year with two really beautiful species, Red-backed Shrike and Red-spotted Bluethroat, which both breed in Scandinavia. To add to the mix was an extreme rarity from the Mediterranean, a superb male Western Subalpine Warbler. They breed in Italy, Majorca and other Western Mediterranean islands and so this one had strayed far northwards from its usual range.

The male Red-spotted Bluethroat in the Straight Lonnen willow patch. Its fleeting appearances made it extremely difficult to photograph. [ Photograph: Mike Carr]

The male Red-backed Shrike caught during one of its swooping visits to the Vicarage lawn.  [ Photograph: Mike Carr]

Red-backed Shrikes are really handsome creatures. The males have a wonderfully rich chestnut back which provides their name, pinkish-white under-parts and grey crowns. They also have a bold, black bandit's mask as befits a species which, although feeding mainly on large insects, is quite capable of hunting and killing small birds, mammals and reptiles.

A male turned up in one of our regular rarity hotspots, the Vicarage garden, where it remained for two days. It would lurk quietly in the cover of shrubs and then swoop down to the lawn to snatch small insects it had obviously spotted from its perch. It would then flash back into cover to enjoy its tiny meal before repeating the process.

Bluethroats are close relatives of our own familiar Robins except, as the name implies, the throats of the males are blue with a red central spot. The females have white throats and a broad 'necklace' of black. Both sexes have bold white eye-stripes.

Bluethroats always seem to come in two extremes, the bold and confiding and the very shy and skulking. During May a male and a female were on the island. The male was in Robert's rapidly-growing willow patch at the top of the Straight Lonnen. The female spend a couple of days around the first lime kiln near the old golf course at Chare Ends.

Male Bluethroats, if lady readers will forgive me for saying so, are the ones birders prefer to see, simply because they are so striking. But in the usual run of things, this particularly male was extremely shy and very difficult to see. It would come into the open for a few seconds and then vanish again for hours and, obviously, just wouldn't play for photographs.

In contrast, the female at Chare Ends was quite the opposite. She would regularly appear on the high mounds around the kiln and then run down to feed in the damp patch on the path between the dunes and fence, almost oblivious to passers-by. If you stood still on the path she'd often approach fearlessly within a six or seven yards, to the obvious delight of visiting birders and photographers.

Quite often in birdwatching rarities can come in twos. So it proved at Chare Ends. Folks watching the female Bluethroat caught a glimpse of a small warbler feeding in the scattered Hawthorn bushes a few yards away. It proved to be the Subalpine Warbler, a species which turns up perhaps once every couple of years on the island, usually in spring.

This bird appeared rather paler than usual with a pinkish rather than brick-red chest which might be expect in a spring male in full breeding plumage. This immediately led to suspicions that it was a member of the western race which very rarely occurs in Britain. The races can be identified because they have slightly different songs but birds on migration seldom sing so that presented a bit of a problem. Also not many British birders have ever heard them singing.

Back in the cover of the shrubs, the shrike enjoys its insect meal. [ Photograph: Mike Carr]

However, on its second day, this bird did give a brief burst of song. Among those who heard it was a birder who'd listened to them singing in Majorca while on a holiday the previous week. So the identification was finally clinched providing the island and Northumberland in general with another very rare record. I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it again: spring is a wonderful time on the island.


May 2016

Our shorebird season has kicked off and the Shorebird wardens we introduced last issue have settled into life on the Reserve. The protective fencing and information signs are all up throughout the Reserve and birds are starting to nest. Visitors have been very helpful and many have enjoyed hearing about the birds and how they can help give them a room to breed.  We were even given a helping hand by Lowick and Holy Island 1st schools who helped us to make tern decoys as part of the Northumberland Little Tern Project to be used on the Reserve and elsewhere in the country. The decoys made will even be helping other sites in the project around the country and some will be winging their way to South Cumbria very soon.

We celebrated World Migratory Bird Day on the 8th of May along with 1000's of other people throughout the World. It was great to explore the amazing migration stories that we have on the Reserve such as arctic terns which travel here every year to breed. It is thought that they can travel the equivalent of three trips to the moon in their lifetime! Last weekend we had a Natura2000 walk around the self-guided nature trail where we were able show everyone the habitats and species that make Lindisfarne NNR part of the Natura2000 network of sites. Natura2000 sites cover a staggering 1 million km2 of sites throughout Europe and includes 27,000 protected sites. Last year we launched a new Colouring In and Sketch Book depicting scenes from the Reserve and they are now available at our events as well as at Berwick and Sea houses Tourist Centres .

Common and Arctic terns have come back to the NNR and can often be seen diving and fishing in the shallows. There has also been 100+ Sandwich terns using the North of the Reserve roost and feed prior to breeding elsewhere. The dunes have been alive with skylark and meadow pipits lately and some of our early species of orchid are beginning to flower.

Mhairi Maclauchlan
Reserve Warden, Beal Station,
Tel: 01289 381 470

ED: Mhairi's blog and facebook page can be found at and .


Summer 2016 Events Programme

Jellyfish Walk
The Berwickshire and Northumberland Marine Nature Partnership
Monday 21st July 10.00am - 11.30am 
Beadnell Bay/High Newton-by-the Sea 
Join us on a short walk along the shore to survey stranded jellyfish. Learn about jellyfish ecology, species identification, and how the results help us to understand about the effects of climate change. Family event but participants must be able to walk for about 1km along the shore. Children must be accompanied by an adult. To book your places and to receive your joining instructions please follow this link
Places are limited so book early!
Contact Claire Hedley for enquiries:  Tel: 01670 622 651.

Rocky Shore Safari and Jellyfish Walk
The Berwickshire and Northumberland Marine Nature Partnership
Monday 22nd July 10.00am - 12.30am 
Coldingham Bay, Berwickshire     
Come and explore the wonderful plants and animals of the rocky shore, then join us on a short walk to hunt for stranded jellyfish. Learn about the influence of the daily tides, species identification, jellyfish ecology, and fun facts about the plants and animals living in the marine environment. The shore can be uneven and slippery so please wear sturdy footwear that you don't mind getting a little wet. Family event but children must be accompanied by an adult. To book your places and to receive your joining instructions please follow this link  
Places are limited so book early!
Contact Claire Hedley for enquiries:  Tel: 01670 622 651.

Rocky Shore Safari
The Berwickshire and Northumberland Marine Nature Partnership
Friday 5th August 10.00am - 11.30am
Come and explore the wonderful plants and animals of the rocky shore with a guided tour from Claire Hedley, the Berwickshire and Northumberland Marine Nature Partnership Manager. Learn about the influence of the daily tides, species identification, and discover fun facts about the different plants and animals living in the marine environment. The shore can be uneven and slippery so please wear sturdy footwear that you don't mind getting a little wet. Family event but children must be accompanied by an adult. To book your places and to receive your joining instructions please follow this link
Places are limited so book early!
Contact Claire Hedley for enquiries:  Tel: 01670 622 651.

Rocky Shore Bioblitz
The Berwickshire and Northumberland Marine Nature Partnership
Northumberland Wildlife Trust - Living Seas
Newcastle University - Capturing Our Coast
Monday 19th September 10.00am - 12.00 noon 
Join us on a rocky shore recording bonanza! This is an exciting opportunity to learn about marine plants, animals and survey skills. Beadnell is one of the most diverse rocky shores in Europe, so we should find plenty of interesting species. Open to all levels of knowledge but participants should be 16yrs or older. The shore can be uneven and slippery so please wear sturdy footwear that you don't mind getting a little wet. Recording equipment will be provided, but please feel free to bring your own ID guides if you have them. To book your places and to receive your joining instructions please follow this link
Places are limited so book early!
Contact Claire Hedley for enquiries:  Tel: 01670 622 651.


The Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership is holding a photographic competition this summer to find an image for the cover of their 2017 Visitor Guide.

The winner will not only have their image on the front cover of 50,000 2017 Northumberland Coast visitor guides but will also receive £150 to spend at Stait Photo in Morpeth. Stait photo has kindly provided canvas prints of their image for the runners-up prizes.

Photos submitted can be of virtually anything, but to be eligible, the photo must have been taken within the Northumberland Coast AONB in 2016. The closing date for entries is the 3rd October 2016.

Paul Larkin, editor of the Johnston Press Northumberland titles, Northumberland Gazette, Berwick Advertiser, Morpeth Herald and News Post Leader, said: "We are proud to continue our association with this competition and are looking forward to seeing this year's entries.

"We find that beautiful images generate enormous interest on social media and we encourage all photographers to get out, explore the coast and keep an eye open for a special image for the front page of the Northumberland Coast Visitor Guide."

Jane Coltman, Image Manager for Johnston Press Northumberland titles said: "I'm excited to be involved in the judging process for this competition. I was impressed by the range and quality of the images submitted last year and I can't wait to see the fantastic photos that I know will be submitted from people who, like me, love the Northumberland coast. "

The image on the front of the current Visitor Guide (shown here) was taken by Emma Rothera, a photographer who lives and works on Holy Island. Ken Stait who runs Stait Photo in Morpeth and Hexham is sponsoring the competition and is also a judge said "We had quite a few sunrise photos to judge last year but the simplicity and serenity of this photograph set it apart. We are delighted to be involved in this year's competition."

Images need to be submitted in an electronic format and be of a high enough resolution to be used on the cover of the guide. More advice, previous visitor guide covers and the full set of rules are on the AONB website URL removed by AONB .


The Northumberland Coast Path is ten years old this July and as part of the celebrations there will be a guided walk along the entire length of the path.

Each Friday between the 1st July and 5th August, Iain Robson will lead a walk along a section of the path in the company of a coastal expert, maybe a botanist, geologist, ranger or birdwatcher. You can choose to do one section or them all, it's up to you.

Each walk will be led by Iain from the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership who originally developed the route with colleagues from Northumberland County Council.

The concept of a continuous path was realised through a European Union Interreg project called 'The North Sea Trail' which provided funding to implement the trail on the ground. The Northumberland section was one of 27 coastal paths in seven different countries around the North Sea. The 62 mile walking trail from Cresswell to Berwick-upon-Tweed was officially opened on a glorious summer's day on 17th July 2006 in Boulmer. Since then the path, which passes through some of the finest coastal scenery in Europe, has attracted thousands of walkers from around the world.

Cllr John Woodman, Chair of the AONB Partnership said "Walkers undertaking a long-distance route such as the Northumberland Coast Path are good for the local economy. Because they are travelling-light, they buy everything that they need along the way: other than the money they spend in local businesses and their footprints in the sand, they leave nothing behind. But they take away memories of a landscape, a heritage and a welcome that is collectively unsurpassed."

Organiser Iain Robson said "The Northumberland coast has an excellent bus service which runs parallel to the coast path. To encourage walkers to leave their cars at home, the start time for walk coincides with the arrival of a bus and we will return to our starting point by bus. The second stage will be promoted as part of the national 'Catch the Bus' week."

As well as the guided walks, there is a new website for the path - and a new passport scheme for walkers.

The guided walks are free to join but booking is essential as places are limited.  Details of each stage and information on booking your place are as follows:

Stage 1 1st July Cresswell to Warkworth 10.5 miles (5 hours)
Start: 09:20 Cresswell Ices to coincide with the arrival of the Arriva No.1 from Ashington (change here from Newcastle)

Stage 2 8th July Warkworth to Craster 13 miles (6.5 hours)
Start 09:30 Warkworth Market Cross to coincide with the arrival of the X18 from Alnwick and Newcastle.

Stage 3 15th July Craster to Seahouses 9.5 miles (5 hours)
Start 09:30 Craster TIC to coincide with the arrival of the 418 from Alnwick and X18 from Belford/Seahouses

Stage 4 22nd July Seahouses to Belford 10.5 miles (5 1/2 hours)
Start 10:05 Seahouses TIC to coincide with the arrival of the Travelsure 418 from Alnwick and Belford

Stage 5 29th July Belford to Fenwick 7 miles (4 hours)
Start 1030 Belford Market Cross to coincide with the arrival of the X15 from Alnwick/Newcastle or the Travelsure 418 from the Coast.

Stage 6 5th August Fenwick to Berwick-upon-Tweed 12 miles (6 hours)
Start 1035 Fenwick A1 Bus Stop to coincide with the arrival of the X15 from Alnwick/Newcastle

Booking is essential: Book your place by email to or by calling the AONB Partnership on 01670 620306.

NEWS FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

June Events at Ford & Etal

5th June, 9.30am-5pm  - Festival of the Heavy Horse at Etal Showground. A spectacular family day out, this event is dedicated solely to the working heavy horse and is unique to the North of England. Visitors can see horses being shown in hand and ridden and, of course, the beautiful driving teams.
In addition attractions include horses working with machinery and traditional crafters and industries including wheelwright and farrier, local food and craft stalls and refreshments.

  • Working horse demos
  • Heritage skills demos
  • Vintage Tractors
  • Vintage Machinery
  • Local Food & Craft Market
  • Main Ring Displays
  • Children's Entertainment
  • Outside Catering & Bar
  • Disabled Access
  • Dogs welcome
  • Free parking

Admission:  £10.00 adults, £7.00 seniors, under 16s free.  Ticket includes admission to Heatherslaw Corn Mill.

June 19th, 9:00am-3pm - Farmers Market - Hay Farm Heavy Horse Center  A farmers market is being held every third Sunday at the Heavy Horse Centre.  Visit to buy fresh locally produced food, gifts and crafts - and visit the horses while you're there.

June 19th, 10am-4pm Antiques & Collectables Auction - Etal Village Hall A perfect opportunity to bid for a bargain!  Trade enquiries:  01289 330828

1st-30th June, Heatherslaw Mill - 'Coast, Castles & Beyond!'
An exhibition by well- known local photographer Jim Gibson will be open throughout the month of June, in the 'poultry shed' opposite Heatherslaw Cornmill.  Free admission; prints, cards etc available to buy.

5th June-9th July - Display of work by Rainbow Quilts at Lady Waterford Hall
The work of talented local crafter Caroline Morrell will be on display - and available to buy - in the Crafters Display Cabinet at Lady Waterford Hall


Bakers delight as Heatherslaw goes Light!
Heatherslaw Mill has added to its flour power by launching a new product specially made for cakes and scones.

Traditionally Heatherslaw Mill has only produced flours for the bread baker but the new flour known as Heatherslaw Light is a traditionally made stoneground flour, lightly sieved to reduce the bran content then given added raising agents for perfect cakes.

Visitors to the mill at Ford & Etal Estates on Bank Holiday Monday were able to try out the new flour after Dave the Miller baked a Victoria sponge cake to awaken people's taste buds.

"The flour when used with good eggs gives an amazing yellow colour to the cake and a lovely light but moist texture," he said.
"The flour is also being used in the tearoom at Heatherslaw for Kathleen's delicious chocolate cakes.
"Until now the mill has only produced flours for the bread baker so this is a really exciting time to make a flour that will appeal to cake and scone makers alike."

The flour is available in 1kg bags exclusively from the mill shop at Heatherslaw.

Steampunk comes to Ford & Etal - 24th to 26th June
Airship Northstar is a full weekend celebration of steampunk, dieselpunk and victoriana created by Impossible Gears, the slightly bonkers creators of Steamtown 2015 - music, laughter, food, drink, jetpack racing, tea duelling, teapot racing, entertainment and general merriment of many sorts - plus a number of attractions and activities unique to the historic and incredibly pretty Ford and Etal Estates.

For those unfamiliar with Steampunk, it is a worldwide subculture of creative people who embrace a combination of science fiction and Victorian style - it involves a whole lot of dressing up, meeting new and interesting people and generally being lovely!

For information and to book tickets visit .


Our trustees in 2015 promised residents that they would not purchase any more properties on the island. But new wardens for the Open Gate (we hope to have news next month) will require a house. So I have offered them, if needs be, the use of my house.

This means that I must find rooms elsewhere, in Berwick or on the island, and my community will pay the rent. If you can help, please let me know.

Many people have to leave the island, perhaps to get a job or go into a care home. We do not find change easy. Research shows that a change of job, partner or house are the three most stressful experiences.

The following saying, however, has helped me. This is the story behind the saying: In 635, the same year that Aidan, a Christian monk from Ireland, brought the Gospel to the English, Aleban, a Christian monk from Iran, brought the Gospel to China. His brothers wove the stories of Jesus into the language and culture of China and wrote these down. Over the centuries their followers became known as 'The Luminous Religion'. But under a later emperor they were persecuted. They hid their writings in caves. In the 1890's a wandering Taoist monk found some grottoes in Dunhuang. They contained Library Caves with 50,000 documents that had been sealed over nine hundred years earlier. Archeologists dug these up and studied them. Among these were sayings that have been published as The Sutras of Jesus.  This is the Sutra that helps me:

The world is like an inn where you stay temporarily.
None of the beds or furniture are really yours.
We will all be gone soon, for no one can stay long in an inn.

Ray Simpson
Founding Guardian,
The International Community of Aidan and Hilda


The funny thing about faith ....

A recent survey has demonstrated that in the few years since the last National Census in 2011 there has been a sharp decline in those who self identify as belonging to a religion. The survey reveals that 48% of the UK population now claim to have no religion. Whereas 43% do self identify has having a religion. This is apparently the first time that those with no religion has exceeded those who claim a religious affiliation. While statistically this may be the case the underlying reality may have been more akin to this than many religious leaders have cared to admit. What we are looking at now is a more open and honest response to a question about religion.

As long ago as 1867 Matthew Arnold suggested in his poem On Dover Beach that faith was ebbing away in our society. Indeed he probably wrote the poem in 1851 but was concerned to publish it because of adverse reaction. His understanding may well reflect a much more sceptical population in the nineteenth century than is often assumed.

Institutional religion has become increasingly identified in our minds with sexual abuse, terrorism and violence, outdated ceremonies and perceptions of human relationships. Against such a background it is hardly surprising that there has been a sharp increase among the population of those who reject 'religion'. But perhaps more importantly religion appears to have little or no relation to the realities of life. Yet each of us lives life in the context of a set of values and routines and perhaps goals which give meaning to the lives we live. The things we hold dear shape our lives and the lives of those around us. What informs those values, where do they come from? Are they not a kind of 'faith' even if they have nothing directly to do with any religion?

Most of us have faith in someone ... and in the things and people we hold dear. These things relate to us at a deep level ... a level which we might call the 'soul'. An understanding which suggests that we are spiritual as well physical and mortal beings.

It is easy enough to reject institutional religion as outmoded, irrelevant, and unjust. It is another thing to neglect one's own soul; and to fail to reflect upon one's values ... the things we hold dear. The great religions for all their failings have always invited their adherents to do just that. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is just such an invitation:

I'm not sure that Jesus ever envisaged anything like the churches we have today ... but he does ask us to reflect on what we hold of ultimate importance and value.

Paul Collins (December 2015)
The Vicarage, Holy Island
Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 2RX
Tel. 01289 389 216

PAUSE FOR THOUGHT Revd Canon Kate Tristram


The world is full of strange experiences; here is the story of one.  One Sunday a visitor happened to drop into a country church during the service of Morning Prayer.  It was just a little church, with a congregation of village people and a cracked organ, but they were doing their best.  They sang, 'To Thee all angels cry aloud....holy, holy, holy...'  The visitor couldn't help thinking how great must be the contrast between this struggling act of human worship and the majestic harmonies of the angelic choir.  Then he had his strange experience.  Out of the corner of his eye he saw a faint blue smoke coming up between the chinks of the stone floor.  His first horrified thought was that the church was on fire.  But then it was clear that it was not smoke, but what he called 'a soft haze of a violet colour'   Then 'the luminous blue haze around me was transformed into sudden glory... But the most wonderful thing was that these waves of light were crowded with forms of living creatures...The heavenly hosts drifted through the human congregation, beings of radiant beauty and clothed in shimmering raiment...'  Then the vision faded and the visitor found himself still standing there. The whole experience had taken only a few seconds, and no one else had noticed anything at all.

Clearly that was a very special 'moment of glory'; but very many people have moments when they are aware of a depth of meaning in life or a beauty in it beyond their normal awareness. In some form or other they see the angels.  In some form or other they overhear their song of praise.  Ordinary life offers everybody this experience if they will but take it: to be lost in astonishment or wonder at some lovely landscape, or music or other work of art, or at some hardly believable tale of human goodness or courage.  We feel that here is something huge, altogether bigger than ourselves

If we are given such moments let's treasure them, for this is the beginning of worship. We can use them as pointers towards that coming time when we too shall see and know God better, and join more fully in the worship of heaven.

Holy Island Festival 2016

Friday 24th June
Royal Northern Sinfonia
Saturday 25th June


Featuring 'Lindisfarne' founding drummer Ray Laidlaw and frontman Billy Mitchell with Tom Mitchell on guitar and piano, Michael Bailey on bass, Mark Anderson on guitars and Rachael Bailey on violin and accordion.

Saturday 25th June
Ex Cathedra
Sunday 26th June
Festival Eucharist 10.45am
with the Scholars of St Martin in the Fields
preacher: Very Revd Christopher Dalliston
[Dean of Newcastle Cathedral]
Sunday Evening
Headline Concert: The Unthanks
also performing during the weekend
Pons Aelius
Anna & Martha Raine
The Five Ring Circus
tickets at