• A bit from me...
  • Holy Island Causeway: user safety
  • Beacon Brauhaus
  • Peregrini Lindisfarne landscape partnership
  • Holy Island village hall rebuilding appeal
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • Where have all our swallows gone?
  • Natural England Lindisfarne NNR
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • From the community of Aidan and Hilda
  • From the Vicarage
  • Pause for thought

From: HI Station Officer Ryan Douglas

A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

Dear Friend of Lindisfarne,

Welcome to our September issue of Sitezine and as I write the glorious weather in northeast England continues on.

As another summer bank holiday weekend passes with our car parks filled to bursting point, I wonder if you were amongst the 650,000 visitors who passed our doors; slept in our hotels and B&Bs; called on our heritage monuments; ate in our cafes and restaurants; perhaps you bought some local produce: fudge, Pilgrims coffee, mead from the winery, strawberries, potatoes, honey from Coombes farm (see right) ...; walked the dunes and huge expanse of near-deserted beaches. Maybe you worshipped in our churches or tarried awhile on one of our public benches in quiet reflection.

Whatever it was you did here we hope you enjoyed yourselves. Thank you for coming - we look forward to seeing you again next year?

Ezine: Our ezine page ( should now be up-to-date with 12 months of back issues:

Website: Did you manage to follow up on our link to the Blyth 'North Sea Tall Ships Regatta 2016' - . Very well done to all involved in organising the event and the sponsors who made it all possible. My fingers were crossed that in the culminating race to Gothenburg, Sweden, some of that magnificent fleet sail near the island on their way out. Sadly the winds were not favourable.

Knowing the pressure that some of my colleagues have been under, I am delighted to provide information from St Mary's, The HI Village Hall, Lindisfarne Castle, HI Bird Expert, The Community of Aidan and Hilda, The Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership, Ford & Etal Estates, Natural England and our 'Pause for Thought' feature. We particularly welcome a report from amongst our younger ranks Marcus who writes about his new, island-brewed product!

Wishing you a healthy and happy start to autumn until we get in touch again on 1st October.

God Bless - Geoff Porter

PS: The 'Yorkshire Post' ( reader Malcolm Bentley ) has sent a link  click here . I hope none will regard the newsletter as taking a political stance. Our sympathy extends to all sides who become embroiled in conflict.


PROGRESSSS!!: Contract for causeway works commencing October - approx. unbelievably one hectare of saltmarsh to be relocated as part of conservation consent---circa £25k of work jointly supervised by county and English Nature - progress !!!! I can only apologise for standing back two years ago but at the time thought leaving all parties to sort it out was best solution - hindsight has proven you probably can have too much consultation - I can only pray it forms if not a total solution then a step in the right direction - thank you all for your patience and support and to both county parish residents and EN officers whom have all contributed and worked together to get us here.

Douglas Watkin
Northumberland County Council

ED: Well done Doug! Perhaps the problem in leaving it with 'parties' to solve was that none of the parties live here on the island and have to cope with the situation daily. Hopefully, in their 'consultation' will have listened to the economic solutions offered by some of those eco-minded folk living here. We will be watching with interest...


'Lindisfarne's' Ray Laidlaw with 'Lady Eleanor' beer

As many of the readers will have probably heard, I have recently set up a little brewery at Pilgrims Coffee House called Beacon Brauhaus.

The idea came about early last year after I started working for Andrew again. Seeing him roasting his own coffee beans inspired me to create something myself.

I remember sitting at the Crown and Anchor over a pint one night when the revelation hit. I had the idea of maybe starting to make my own cheese to be used at the cafe, however, I don't really know the first thing about cheese and I'm not even particularly fond of it. Upon taking a swig of beer, I looked at the glass and thought to myself: "I do like (understatement) beer, however!".

In that moment, the idea for the brewery was born. Over the following few weeks I looked into the process and shortly after that ordered my first homebrew kit.

Fast forward a little less than a year, Andrew told me that he agreed to supply a bespoke beer for the Holy Island festival. That's when things started to get serious. I needed my brewery license and of course the beer and a name for it. The latter was  an easy pick as I had just come up with a very tasty elderflower blonde and I was already toying with the idea of naming one of my brews 'Lady Eleanor' after the Lindisfarne song. So that was settled. All that was left was waiting for the approval of the brewery to come through and it did so just in the nick of time for me to get the beer brewed, bottled and labelled. In fact, Andrew and I were still sticking the last labels onto the bottles about 20 minutes before they were meant to go on sale for the interval during the Lindisfarne gig. It was a very close call but it all paid off in the end. The feedback I received was outstanding and further motivated me to get my business established. 

Beacon Brauhaus is still in its infancy but progress is being made every day and I am delighted with the results so far.


The Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership are excited to announce the winners of their Landscape Photography Project.

Earlier this year, four photography workshops were held in iconic locations across north Northumberland and helped local people develop skills using their Digital SLR camera. The efforts were then showcased in an exhibition held during the Holy Island Festival with over 400 visitors voting for their favourite picture.

First prize went to Martin Lefevre with a stunning photo of Cheswick Sands; second prize to Phillip Hanson with an atmospheric black and white image of an up turned boat at Holy Island harbour and third prize was awarded to Alison Woolley for her image of the moon during sunset at Cheswick Sands. Prizes included vouchers and professional prints of the photographs shown in the exhibition.

Brenda Stanton, Chair of the Peregrini Lindisfarne Board said "The photography project has not only shown off the beautiful landscape across north Northumberland but highlights the talent of local people who took part on this exciting project"

Helen Griffiths, Peregrini Programme Manager also said "as part of our creative arts project, the photography workshops and exhibition was an opportunity for local people to get out into this iconic landscape and capture it in all its glory. These images will help develop a visual archive of the Peregrini area and contribute to interpretation for other Peregrini projects"

Anyone interested in getting involved in other creative arts projects being delivered can visit:

David Suggett // Phone: 01668 213086.


(from: John and Linda Marrin)

There have been several encouraging responses from national fund providers. But we would rather that the Lottery allowed the Trustees to use the under-spend on fitting out the kitchen and serving area. The discussion continues.

You may recall that that there were concerns regarding the floor covering in the main hall. Following  discussion with the Contractor and our Advisors, a site meeting was arranged with the supplier and manufacturer of the lino.
At that meeting and following a detailed inspection by the manufacturer it was agreed that the flooring did not meet the required standard and a large section would be lifted and replaced other smaller areas would be rectified.
The work was carried out a short time ago and it appears to me that the flooring is now satisfactory but the Professionals need to inspect and approve the work before it is signed off.

BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS: The village hall book stall, generously hosted by the Oasis Café,  has had a busy summer and there is a danger that they will run out of articles to sell for hall funds.
Please check and if you have any spare books, games, puzzles left by visitors. If so gather them up and drop them off at the Oasis. They will help raise funds to meet annual running costs. Thank you.

Commercial use of hall
Several expressions of interest from 'commercial uses', have been noted, for example; a farmers market or a sales table at coffee mornings It became clear that we needed to clarify the attitude of HMRC and The Charity Commissioner. Information received indicates that providing our charity benefits from their fees by helping to meet annual running costs etc. Limited commercial activities can be considered.

A draft document Village Hall Hires Charges and Term & Conditions - 2016
This is in preparation and will be presented for discussion, amendment and approval at the next Trustee meeting.
When approved it will be published on the Hall web site, the most important section in this document will confirm that the long standing arrangements for use of the hall by Islanders will show little change.

Memorial Bench for Tinko and Clive
A number of donations have been received and are being held in a dedicated account until the target is achieved and an appropriate bench is acquired. Thank you for your generosity.



Since my last article things have progressed somewhat on the Castle Project front, and actually things are moving so quickly that I am writing as fast as I can before anything else happens to make this piece suddenly out of date.

The main headline though, as many of you will already be aware, is that we have taken the not inconsiderable decision to close the Castle to the public for the duration of the works, which must be complete by March 2018. That means that along with the two planned closed winters of 2016/7 and 2017/8, there will be no access to the interior of the building during the 2017 season. While this is a big decision for all concerned, there was never really a viable alternative given the nature of the building and its location. Our architects did draw up plans to phase the work but ultimate this required it to be trimmed back to fit the cut off time of March 2018, which meant some crucial bits of work had to be prioritised over others. This was not an option as we don't want to do anything like a project of this scale again anytime soon. The timeline then (at time of writing) looks like this; August/September - tender of works submitted by contractors, September - chosen contractor appointed, late October/early November - packing and removal of Castle contents, mid-November - handover to contractor.

The main item on my mind at the moment is that removals job coming up in a couple of months. We need to have a good sort out of what is in here and then begin carefully packing and documenting the historic collection before it can be removed into storage ahead of the work. Around about half a dozen items - including a couple of bespoke bits of Lutyens furniture - are too large to be removed, so are having to be left in the Castle and protected in situ. Along with these few items, many of the features in the rooms are to be protected by us and the contractor before work can begin such as columns and arches, fireplaces, floors, doors, wood panelling and more. To carry out this work we are being helped out by a team of volunteers who will be doing most of the packing and documentation but we have also had to bring in one of our joiners from the Wallington Estate as many of the 100-year old mantelpieces and shelves also need to be carefully removed and taken into storage.

In terms of things starting to change on site visually, I doubt we will really start to notice anything until later in the year once the building is handed over and a lot will depend on the work programme the successful contractor decides on. There will of course be scaffolding visible at some point soon but the general consensus there seems that a phased approach will be taken - so that sections of the building will be scaffolded in turn as the work progresses. There will be some sort of building compound near the Castle gate but quite how that will look we don't know at this stage although I am hoping to have some sort of staffed information point in place in that area for the 2017 season too. Access along the road north of the Castle will not of course be affected being a public right of way, but the road up to the main entrance will be part of the building site.

I think that's all I have for now, but please give me a bell if you have any questions or require more detailed information.

Lindisfarne Castle  // @NTLindisfarne // 01289 389903


It's a question which has been on many island lips this summer: Why are there so few Swallows around the village and the island in general?

Even around prime breeding sites, such as the fishing sheds at the beach, far fewer birds have been flying around and breeding this year. Elsewhere, some regular nest sites have not been used at all or in spots where I'd normally expect three or four pairs only a couple have been nesting.

It's certainly not just confined to the island. Everywhere across the region the picture is the same with far fewer pairs than normal.  Recently, while ringing a brood at the stables near the beach, I got into conversation with a farmer from the Yorkshire Dales who told a similar story about the lack of Swallows back home this year.

The answer seems to be that far fewer Swallows than normal returned to Britain this spring from their wintering areas in South Africa. Bad weather conditions, leading to a very large number of birds perishing en route, is the most likely explanation. Those which did return then faced a very cool April and early May and a subsequent  shortage of flying insect food just at the stage where they needed it most to built themselves up again after the rigours of the a journey of 9,000 or 10,000 miles.

In July I told the story of the Swallow I ringed as a nestling in 2011 in Tommy and Beatha's garage in Lewins Lane which was found dead in the spring near the Crown & Anchor. This bird which had just completed its fifth return trip to the island, covering well over 100,000 miles in its life just on migration, probably succumbed to starvation. I fear that's a fate that was probably suffered by many more which did actually manage to return.

Having monitored and ringed Swallows on the island now for 15 years, I can say that it's the poorest season during that period with breeding pairs down by half. However, that's just the bad news. Those Swallows which did make it back and survived the weather of spring went on to breed. Not just that, they also seem to have been very successful.

From the nests I've been able to monitor, pairs which have bred have raised healthy broods and by July many youngsters were evident around the village.  Some pairs then went on to start second families, indicated by fresh clutches of eggs in some nests from which young had successfully fledged.

It's always difficult to know if the same adults are involved in these second clutches and broods because Swallows will quickly take over empty or vacant nests simply to save themselves the trouble of building new ones. By the time you are reading this many of those later broods will also have fledged to add to the number of Swallows around the village, a welcome sight for us all.

Many regular readers may recall that in 2014 I wrote about the discovery on the island of the first recorded instance in Northumberland of Swallows using a natural nest site as opposed to the usual locations in a huge range of buildings and other man-made structures.

That nest, just six or seven feet above the high water mark, was found by George Moody when he was out gathering shellfish. It was tucked away in a sheltered crevice in the boulder clay sea bank near Emmanuel Head. That year it fledged three young. Rather surprisingly, the nest survived the winter of 2014-15 and was again used by Swallows last year. However the nest became waterlogged during heavy rain and young which were still naked and blind perished.

Even more amazingly for such a vulnerable site, the nest survived another winter and was used again this year, not by Swallows but by a pair of Pied Wagtails. They fledged a very healthy brood of four young.  I wonder if the nest can survive yet another winter.

Populations of Swallows, like many other small migratory birds, tend to fluctuate widely and I think we'll just have to write 2016 off as one of those years when numbers were low. That could all quickly change with a couple of successful breeding season and, just as importantly, favourable conditions while they are migrating to and from South Africa.


This time of year is always seen as a transition period as we are now saying farewell to our shorebirds who make journey's to their wintering grounds in various parts of the world including Africa and the Antarctic. In the next few months we will start to welcome back ducks, geese and waders returning to the Reserve in large flocks.

We had a successful shorebird season and thanks must go in particular to our excellent volunteers as well as  shorebird wardens Alex, James and George who did a great job this year. We also had visiting trainees from Natural England's Nurturing Skill traineeship that helped out for a week on the Shorebird project. It was great to be able to give them a difference experience on different type of habitat than they were used to as they normally work at Derbyshire Dales NNR. Thanks to the public for recognising the importance of this work and putting dogs on leads etc. Last week we also attended a Little Tern Networking meeting where we heard about other colonies around the country.

This year you may have noticed a different design of sign on the Reserve. Over the summer month's signs were placed throughout the dunes on the Reserve to give visitors information about ground nesting birds such as lapwing, skylark and meadow pipit.  Ground nesting birds nest at ground level and often you won't know you are near their nest until they shoot up and away or start calling. In addition to the sign we also fenced off a small area with temporary fencing just to give them a small area free from disturbance.

We have had a few events recently which have been really well received. Our Seal Safari was a great opportunity to show visitors one of the Reserves great spectacles. We were able to set up telescopes and binoculars to give a great view of the seals on the flats and they really did perform! We also had a yoga event on the North Shore which was a great way to merge the tranquillity of the Reserve with some quiet contemplation.

Every year the MarClim project with the help of NE staff survey the Rocky Shore on the Reserve this year it was done on the 21st of August. The data collected feeds into a national dataset which over time can tell us about species shifts and we have some excellent pictures on the blog.

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

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

NEWS FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

2nd - 5th September - Retirement sale, 10am-4pm - in the Horseshoe Forge, Ford Village.  (NB The Forge is NOT closing).  Antiques, collectables, vintage - hundreds of items at massive discounts of 50% and more! Enquiries 01890 820521 or 0759 698 7080.   Please note that Antiques & Collectors Fairs previously scheduled to take place in Etal Village Hall on 18th September & 27th November have now been cancelled.

4th September - Etal Horticultural Show, Etal Showground.  Gates open 12 noon, marquee opens 2pm.  Admission £3.00, children free, parking free.  Exhibition of vegetables, flowers, industrial, walking sticks and children's classes.  Attractions on the field include chainsaw carving display, Coldstream Pipe Band, children's sports, companion dod show, carousel, bouncy castle, rodeo copetition, archery, craft stalls, vintage vehicles, heavy horses, beer tent, car boot sale, refreshments. 

10th September - Live Music at Etal Village Hall, Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith.   
Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith play traditional and original folksong of the British Isles. They tell stories of hardship, joy, struggle and celebration held together with driving banjo and guitar arrangements and close vocal harmonies.

They have been heavily influenced by the songs and singers of East Anglia, where they both grew up, but their music also reflects the diversity of voices within the folk and acoustic world. They weave traditional English folksong with Irish, Scottish and American tunes, and their own compositions draw on many different styles.

The songs on their new album have been picked up from sessions, singarounds, gigs, recordings and learned from friends. The stories are varied but there is a common thread of political struggle and resistance, and the decline of the industries that were the backbone of England for many generations.

As usual, tickets are £12 and can be booked in advance by emailing or telephone 01890 820566.  Doors will open at 7.30pm and the music starts at 8pm

10th-17th September - Art Exhibition, Heatherslaw (in 'the Poultry Shed' opposite the Cornmill).  Lowick Art Group return for the 3rd year with their display of art works, open daily 11am-4pm; free admission.

18th September - Farmers Market, Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre, 10am-4pm.

18th September-30th October -  Wildlife Photography Exhibition by Ron McCombe in 'the Poultry Shed' opposite Heatherslaw Cornmill.  Open daily 10am-4pm until 30th September; 11am-4pm during October.

Lady Waterford Hall:
Until 17th September the artists' display cabinet will feature work by the talented Sue Shaw of Ewetree Crafts who makes amazing needle felt pictures and  objects - anything from cute animals to dinasaours, fruit to musical instruments and much more besides.  Needle felting is a technique that uses a special barbed needle that is pushed into wool fibres which presses them down and blends them.  Pieces take between a day and two weeks to make and most of the fleece is sourced from Yorkshire and Northumberland.

From 18th September until 30th October the popular Bright Seed Textiles returns with a variety of cards by Jane Jackson.


Last month a man walked all the way from the West country to Holy Island. He had been inspired to do this by Rachel Joyce's award-winning first novel 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry'. Harold confined himself to a suburban house where he attempted and shared nothing. But when a woman named Queenie, who had worked in his office department twenty years before,  informed him she was dying of cancer in a Berwick Upon Tweed Care Home he sent her a card saying 'I am walking to Berwick. Stay alive until I arrive'. The long, blistered walk introduced him to people, himself and a vision for life.

I, too, have been inspired by this book and I am on my way to Berwick in the Autumn. The process of moving to temporary and then longer term accommodation is difficult, so, inspired by this book, l have turned this process into a kind of pilgrimage.

Last month also Håkon Borgenvik, the new leader of our dispersed Community in Norway, arrived on the island after walking St. Cuthbert's Way with members of his previous parish of Holem and his present parish Flekkerøya.

You may recall that Flekkeroya is an island with links to Holy Island - five of its young men stole away in a boat when Hitler invaded and landed on Lindisfarne which welcomed them.

Flekkeroya is part of the revival area. Most of its two and a half thousand inhabitants attend a church. Hakon is vicar. His friend Torbjorn is a gardener and poet. Some of his prayer poems have been translated into English such as this fragment that he sent me:

Jesus Christ, you were before everything was created
You made everything by your word
You made us
Let the power of God overshadow our ego
Let the Spirit of God live in us
that we may follow you in all things.

Although our new Open Gate Wardens Kevin and Lesley Downham do not officially start until October 1. They will be in and out this month as my house here is adapted for their use.

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

FROM THE VICARAGE Revd Dr Paul Collins

How can we begin to say anything about something which is both invisible and intangible?

But this is what those who believe in God attempt to do all the time.

When we speak we often do so by referring to something other than we are speaking about to convey our meaning: she's a night owl or he's a road hog - these are metaphors. And we use metaphor to speak of the divine: 'The Lord is my shepherd', and Jesus says of himself: 'I am the true vine', 'I am the bread of life'. These phrases suggest something about what we think God is like or what we understand of Jesus. But what about 'God', the divine, the Other? Are there metaphors which express what we seek to mean by using these words?

The best metaphor for me is music: music has the power to evoke memories and places and feelings. Music is written in the form of musical notation - but music is something which happens, is performed and heard and experienced and lived. Music affects me profoundly. In performance there is the physicality of singing or playing an instrument - as a solo or as a choir or orchestra: and there is the physical experience of apprehending the performance - hearing, sensing, feeling. Yet music in another sense is invisible and intangible: it is here and then gone; it moves me, but I cannot take hold of it, I cannot store the experience - it has to be lived. So for me music, at least some music, sometimes, is a metaphor for 'God'. And when that moment of being taken out of myself happens it is sublime, and most often it is beyond words. It has impacted upon me and changed me: I am different because of this moment, this experience, this 'otherness'.

The work of various composers can be more or less guaranteed to have such an effect upon me. One such composer is Herbert Howells (1892-1983). He was an organist as well as a composer and some of the music he wrote was to be performed in particular places. One set of his compositions is entitled Collegium Regale - these pieces were written to be performed in King's College, Cambridge. They include settings of the texts for Morning and Evening Prayer and the Holy Communion. In several of the pieces the word 'glory' occurs: 'Glory be to the Father...' and 'glory everlasting' - the chords which he produced to express this single word in these pieces are for me the best metaphor for the divine glory that I have ever encountered. I would go as far as to say that these pieces have a sacramental quality ... they are the outward and experiential expression of the reality to which they point; they produce in the moment an experience which is sublime.

The reality of this experience is summed up in the words of R S Thomas is his poem Pilgrimages:

He is such a fast
God, always before us
and leaving as we arrive.

Are there moments and metaphors which suggest the sublime and the divine for you?

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

PAUSE FOR THOUGHT Revd Canon Kate Tristram


We, the people of Holy Island, are hospitable.  We offer our guests all of two ways to get on to the Island.  EITHER you walk the Pilgrims' Way, 2 miles across the sands: your feet will be wet and muddy, your leg muscles tired out by the soft sand, your nose will be red from the sun or your ears will drop off in the wind, and your heart may be pounding because the tide is nearer than you thought.  OR you can drive along the causeway.  You will be met by welcoming notices like: 'If the water has reached the causeway DO NOT CROSS.'  The refuge-box stands there as a haven, but also as a warning. The sea is stronger than we are, and the sea always has the last word on Holy Island.

So why don't we build a bridge?  We can't have one (too expensive).  But do we want one?  We say bravely that we like the tides.  We like the way the rest of the globe is cut off from us twice a day.  What would we do if we couldn't tell the funny causeway stories (not the tragic ones)?  What would we do without our unique local water-sport, known as 'racing the tide'?  There is no totally safe way of coming to Holy Island: there is no permanent bridge.

Now let's be serious and take all of this as a parable for life.  Would you choose a life that was always safe?  Even small children, if they find their lives too easy, invent tests and challenges for themselves.  Adults who find life too tame go out and take up a dangerous sport or hobby.  Would you choose a life without the possibility of risk?  That would be a world without courage, for courage can develop only alongside risk.

Would you never have anyone in need?  Then no-one would learn to be sympathetic.

A world without adventure and fortitude, a world without generosity and compassion:

Would it be a better world than the one we have?

Would you like a world without failure?  But, in a pause for thought, is it worth noticing that, however successful we may be, ultimate failure is guaranteed to each one of us?  By all means let us race the tide and win again and again.  But one day the tide will get us, and carry us out to another shore.  And that is a different story.