• A bit from me...
  • Crossman Hall
  • HM Coastguard
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • Remember when winters were winters?
  • Peregrini Lindisfarne
  • Lindisfarne NNR
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • From our Parish Church
  • St Mary's notices

'St Mary's altar at Christmas' (under)

A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

'St Mary's at Christmas

 Dear *|MMERGE3|* ,

As this is our first newsletter in 2018, on behalf of all our writers, may we wish you a very happy 'New Year'. Particular thanks if you were one of the many who took the time to send us your seasonal greetings...

Sadly, our vicar, Rev Professor Dr Paul Collins, has now retired and left to live in the south of the country. Paul's brief time with us will be remembered for many things - probably characterised by the substantial refurbishment work on the church structure, the vicarage-office and his organisational skills in the Holy Island Festival. However, amongst others he was involved in our school, the new Village Hall and a trustee of our community development. We are so grateful for everything you've done Paul. Enjoy your retirement - you will be missed!

But the community has to move on and under the guidance of the Archdeacon and Area Dean, preparation for the selection of a new 'Vicar of Holy Island' is now underway. Churchwarden Sam Quilty, on behalf of the PCC, will now oversee all church matters during what is termed 'The Vacancy' period. Her contact email appears later in the newsletter.

Indeed, since we last wrote, I would be surprised if visitors to our church had noticed any differences. This is largely due to the organisational skills of Sam and local groups of helpers. Definitely worthy of mention was the fabulous adornment of the church for Christmas; our Carol Service; 'Carols in the Square'; Midnight Mass and by no means least church cleaning!

In the cover of all this, the Crown & Anchor is now under new management. Kyle Luke now hands this responsibility over to Paul Davidson. Welcome to Paul who kicks off by including a Sunday Dinner on his menu - roast beef, Yorkshire puddings roast potatoes, loads of veg wonderful...

NORTHUMBERLAND COUNCIL (Highways): Still no work has been carried out on the Causeway and making it worse all the potholes seem to be joining up... Please take care when using this tidal road particularly when the tide has just ebbed clear of the road surface and particularly if you value the underside of your vehicle and the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

HOLY ISLAND VILLAGE (entry): At the moment, as you leave the car park for the village, substantial building works are underway. As I write there's a digger outside my window . Whilst I'm sure the contractors are doing their best, there is often thick mud and an obscured pavement. Work is likely to continue well into the year.

Weather-wise it feels like the mildest Spring but remember that we're barely out of January. There's plenty of time for it to change for the worse. And many are convinced that we could really need a long cold snap to kill off all those bugs. But at the moment I can wash the car without losing my fingers to frostbite and it will be keeping down the central heating bill...

We hope you will enjoy this month's rendition of our newsletter and look forward to getting in touch again in March.

Geoff Porter
Editor (SitEzine)


Aye well that's another one gone. I hope you all enjoyed the Christmas and New Year.

It is good to note that at the end of our financial year, the hall generated sufficient funds to meet our Annual Running costs. Well done to all involved.

Bookings for 2018 are encouraging and it looks like the new hall, like its predecessor, will become a popular venue.

Dedication of Crossman Hall

Circumstances conspired to delay the formal opening of Holy Islands new Village Hall in 2017. Barring unforeseen circumstances, a date has now been set for the formal naming; Friday 23 March 2018 at 14:00. The Causeway will be open from 09:00 until 16:40.

The Hall will be dedicated by the late Lady Rose's daughter-in-law Jane Crossman supported by her daughters Alice & Sophia accompanied by Lady Rose's daughter Emma.

The event begins at 14:00 in the main hall with a series of short opening remarks. Guests will then be invited to view the hall and developing facilities followed by light refreshments.

This small ceremony acknowledges the many that made this community project possible and in particular to Lady Rose who helped drive this community project forward.

Time Gone By

The first major event of the 2018 will feature the Island in a combination of vintage Black & White film and live music by Hector Gannet.

This event was premiered at the Low Light, North Shields Fish Quay last year and was well received by the audience of locals.

Black & white film footage will feature of the Island; then clips remembering shipbuilding on the Tyne and 'Harvest of the Deep' showcasing the NE fishing industry and finally 'Causeway to the Island', revealing days from the Islands past. All accompanied by live music commissioned for and played by the Hector Gannett Band.

This is a great opportunity to look back on days of hard work at the sea and the emerging visitor business on the Island.  The date; Easter Saturday. MORE DETAILS & TIMES TO BE ANNOUNCED LATER.

Yoga Class

You will recall we attempted to establish a regular Pilates/Yoga class last year, but it appears that the Teacher Julia Waters was unable to provide for a regular class.

At Christmas Rachel O'C established contact with Trudy Morrison, Border Yoga. Trudy is able to run a monthly class in the hall. She specialises in Yoga with classes last 90 minutes or so and needs 8 - 10 participants to run a viable course. She can start a monthly class on request. The monthly fee would be in the region of 8.00.

If you are interested please let me know ASAP and classes could begin in late February/early March.

As we approach the new season, please remember we always welcome donations of books & games etc., for use on our charity table at Coffee Mornings. Thank you.

Finally it is pleasing to report that the recreational facilities in the hall proved to be very popular during the Christmas & New Year Holidays. As the hall facilities grow in future we hope to provide additional fitness equipment.



Earlier in my Newsletter I promised more information on the Easter Saturday Event.

Well it's turning into a bit of a block buster! and further news and times to come, but for now an early warning to consider booking when tickets are released. As well as the previously announced programme, the Hall will provide a venue for:

Northumbrian piper and composer Kathryn Tickell will perform with her long-time collaborator Amy Thatcher (accordion & clog dancing). The pair will perform evocative slow airs moving seamlessly into rapid fire jigs and reels. A very special evening is in store from this sparkling duo.
This special event will feature Kathryn Williams an English singer-songwriter who has released 14 albums to date. She has written & arranged for a multitude of artists and was nominated for the 2000 Mercury Prize.

More to information to come in next month's newsletter.



We are recruiting!

HM Coastguard is recruiting for Holy Island, Berwick and Eyemouth Teams.

The teams form part of the 3,500-strong Coastguard Rescue Service, whose 360 teams provide a 24/7 emergency response to search and rescue incidents around the UK coastline. Prospective recruits must be aged 18 or over and will undergo medical screening and be subject to Disclosure and Barring Service checks. Martin Lowe, senior coastal operations officer, said: "The demanding nature of some duties performed by a Coastguard Rescue Officer (CRO) requires a reasonable standard of health and fitness, although pre-existing medical conditions do not necessarily exclude membership. Dealing with occasional traumatic incidents can also have an emotional impact." Trainees will learn various skills leading to proficiency in a range of competencies, such as rope rescue, search techniques, water rescue, first aid, radio communications and helicopter operations.

Working closely with other emergency services and maritime search and rescue resources, teams can be called out to a variety of incidents, including cliff rescues, vulnerable person searches, people stranded by the tide or at risk of drowning, small craft in difficulties and found explosive ordnance. Martin said: "We expect a high level of commitment from all our team members, both in terms of regular attendance at training sessions and response to incidents. "Coastguard rescue teams are on-call on a 24-hours basis, which means making sacrifices in their personal lives. We also encourage employers to allow CROs to leave the workplace to attend incidents, when necessary. "They should live within reasonable travelling distance from the coast or their local Coastguard station, with own transport being essential." The Coastguard Rescue Service also plays a key role in preventing loss of life at sea by providing safety talks to youngsters and community groups and undertaking coastal patrols.

Full training will be given so no experience is needed but recruits must live or work within 20 minutes of one of the stations.

To apply please email and one of the area management team will be in touch or contact the teams on their facebook pages. Applications close at the end of February.

Holy Island Coastguard:

I have now been apart of Holy Island Coastguard for 10 years, 9 years leading the team as Station Officer, however this sadly will be my last year.

As I now work and live in Yorkshire I can no longer dedicate the time required. My final day as Station Officer will be on the 1st of July 2018. To which, I am not looking forward to, as I have really enjoyed my time with the Coastguard on Holy Island.

The current team move into 2018 in a great position with a new Coastguard Station that is to be built on the Island during 2018/2019.

My last task to complete before I depart this year is to raise of compliment from 7 Coastguard Rescue Officers to 9. So please give it real thought about joining up! Your Country and Holy Islands needs YOU!

Ryan Douglas
Station Officer


The New Year brings us ever closer to the end of the works at the Castle, and although there will still be some scaffolding being dismantled in the summer, we are getting the internal spaces back (along with the main access road) in early March ahead of opening on 1st April. This means it all of our focus is on that process - getting essential materials back into the Castle and getting ready to welcome the public.

We aren't returning the Castle collection back to the building until next winter to allow plaster and ultimately paintwork to have time to cure and dry. This then gave us the prospect of opening with an empty castle; something even the staunchest advocate of Lutyens' work may have struggled with! As it happens though we had been in discussions with the artist Anya Gallaccio about doing something with the empty space to have as our main offer to visitors in the absence of the usual contents, so it was nice to have this finally go public last week. We aren't quite sure of the exact details yet (as I type on the 22nd January we should know in the next few days) but the brief was to link the artwork back to the Castle, its story, and the conservation project. Anya has come up with an installation that will play on the transitional phase the Castle is in - somewhere between a closed building site and a Lutyens holiday home - and also the relationship it has with the Jekyll Garden; especially the colour scheme Gertrude used over there to such effect. The installation will be open to the public on 5th May so for the first month or so the Castle will indeed be empty (a rare thing indeed) but we will be telling the story of the work that has gone on here over the period we have been closed.

In terms of what is going on there now the main story is linked to the above mention of the handover. The interior rooms are the main focus and that is just as well given the freezing temperatures we have had over the turn of the year. Little or no lime work has been possible due to the risk of frost but before Christmas - in a balmy week where temperatures reached 10?C - the contractors were able to apply the external finish to the south elevation gatehouse (more commonly known as the 'Loo with a View'). Inside the final skims have been being applied to the rooms and final electrical fittings - such as faceplates and ceiling roses - are being added. During this work the new fire alarm system will be all connected up; the system has been running alongside the old one having been installed during the 'opening up' period at the start of the project (which seems ages ago). On that note we have been replacing old wiring with MICC (fire-resistant) cabling throughout the building and have been installing compartmentation in cable and pipe runs to help stop fires happening. As we found during an exercise with Fire Service and Coast Guard last summer, it will be tough to effectively fight a fire at the Castle so we'd be better off not having one in the first place!

I am still hoping to have a couple more visits to the Castle before we reopen but given the amount of work going on it is tricky to find any times when the contractors are not there. If I don't get any organised in February then I will aim to hold a couple of open days in March once we have the rooms back.

Some of you may have noticed that the NT shop in the village is getting a bit of attention at the moment; that is because Mel is very excited to be having a full refit carried out. This will see the main counter moved and the back window opened up for the first time in ages. We're hoping to be open for February half term week so do pop in if you get a chance.

Best wishes

Lindisfarne Castle @NTLindisfarne
01289 389244 (press 1, then 1903)


We seem to be having a very topsy-turvy winter. So far it has alternated between short spells of extreme cold with hard frost followed almost immediately by days when temperatures have occasionally crept up towards double figures, making it almost spring-like.

With these sudden swings in temperatures and heavy winter clothing being donned and then shed in fast succession, it's little wonder that so many folk around the island seem to be suffering for flu and coughs and colds. It's not the ideal way, I'm sure you'll agree, to greet the first dark weeks of 2018.

I really prefer winter to feel like winter so those short periods with hard frosts, frozen ground and the Rocket Field pools and the Lough briefly iced over are the ones which always encourage me to leave the warmth of the cottage.

When I'm out and about in those very cold conditions I often find myself remembering the words of the Victorian poet Christina Rossetti about earth being like iron and water like stone. I suppose her poem might have been long forgotten had it not been set to music by Harold Darke in 1911 to provide us with that favourite festive carol "In the Bleak Midwinter."

For the daughter of Italian political exiles in London, Christina certainly caught the spirit of a good old-fashioned British winter. Such winters seem to be a thing of the past, replaced by the monotonous cycle of rain and generally dull and damp conditions.

When they occur, those intensely cold days usually bring other benefits for anyone out and about: wonderfully red dawns and dusks, blue skies, little breeze, great visibility westwards to the white tops of Cheviot and Hedgehope and glassy high tide water on the flats. The general lack of wind means that sound carries well on the still air.

They also show our winter birdlife to best advantage. Standing on the Heugh or down  on the beach at Jenny Bell's, the resident Eiders and wintering Brent Geese show well on the placid water or on the sandbars. In these conditions, the drake Eiders quickly get into courting mode, cooing and displaying to any brown female willing to watch.

Red-throated Divers, slim and pale grey, and noisy, splashing parties of Long-tailed Ducks stand out at great distance in the fine conditions as do the small parties of Slavonian Grebes. These grebes in their black and white winter plumage always look to me to be so small and delicate. It's an illusion as they can cope effortlessly with the roughest sea conditions.

The cold weather has more effect on the Teal and the scattering of Wigeon and other ducks congregated at the Rocket Field. On freezing mornings, many of them will swim around in the small patches which remain free of ice. Their movement keeps the water open. When that fails, they have to move across to the Lough where the ice takes longer to have an effect

Waders using the Rocket Field, particularly the scattering of Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwings and Redshanks, simply move off to the flats to continue their endless quest for food. Some don't bother to go that far and simply flip across the road to the Ouse.

On sunny freezing days I like to get across towards the North Shore. One thing immediately noticeable is the lack of smaller birds on the way. Apart from the resident pair of Stonechats, usually using the fence line or the scattered bushes, along the track towards the old kilns and golf course and a few Reed Buntings the area is very quiet. A few Skylarks and Linnets remain but are usually out of sight scouring the stubble fields for seed.

The last time I walked that way to the North Shore there was one moment of sudden excitement as I crested the last dunes above the ruined building. A young female Peregrine slipped silently from the top of the gable end and raced low towards Snipe Point. Less than half a minute later she returned, turned her head to look at me as she passed, and shot off skimming the dunes out towards the flats. Below the ruin tell-tale patches of white splash and a few scattered wader feathers revealed that she'd be using it as a plucking area and probably a regular look-out post.

My usual reason for visiting the North Shore in mid-winter is to look for Snow Buntings. These sturdy white-patched birds often glean the beach for wind-blown seeds with others doing the same in island fields. Numbers wintering in Britain have fallen dramatically in recent decades because less severe winters just south of their high Arctic breeding range means that they don't need to migrate so far.

In the past big parties were regular but these days I count myself fortunate if I can find a dozen or so. The island has the distinction of having once attracting the biggest gathering of Snow Buntings ever recorded in Northumberland. During the very severe winter of 1948 Richard Perry, author of A Naturalist on Lindisfarne, recorded 5,000.  In these days of instant communications, such a stupendous gathering would attract birders from throughout the country just to enjoy the sheer spectacle. Back then, Perry's sighting was reported in a much simpler form, a postcard to the Hancock Museum in Newcastle.

1,000 Snow Buntings were on the island in December 1962 followed by 80 in 1993 and 2000. Since then numbers have been much smaller. On my visit I found just eight feeding on the tideline. Now that's something which would have given Perry a good laugh!


New poles maintain the way across the Lindisfarne sands

The line of poles marking the walking route to Holy Island have been in place for decades, but recently some of them had gone missing or become loose.  As part of the Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership Scheme, the missing poles have been replaced.

The Peregrini scheme, which is funded by players of the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) arranged for the missing and loose poles to be replaced.

Ever since 635, when King Oswald gave the Holy Island of Lindisfarne to St Aidan to establish his monastery, the island has been a place of pilgrimage. The road was not constructed until 1954 and until then the vertical poles were the only indicators of the safe route between the mainland and island.

Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North East, said: "The sight of the poles stretching across the sand and mud is one of the most iconic views in Northumberland and to walk the route away from the road and follow in the footsteps of our medieval ancestors is a wonderful experience. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, walkers and pilgrims to Holy island will have a complete set of poles to guide their way across the sands."

Local fencing contractor Eddie Furnace was tasked with the job of replacing the poles. Eddie said "This is one of the more unusual jobs we've been asked to do and it wasn't without its challenges. As well as the typical January weather, the poles sit in a mixture of mud and sand which is very wet and the holes for the replacement poles were filling up as quickly as we dug them. The boggy conditions also meant that we had to carry the poles in by hand as the quad-bike would've got stuck in the mud.

"The whole area is really important for birds and is designated as a National Nature Reserve so we had to work closely with the reserve staff to make sure the birds weren't unduly disturbed.

"The replacements are rough larch poles from a local woodland, so they look like the existing poles and should last a long time."

Brenda Stanton, Chair of the Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership said "More and more people are walking the Pilgrim's Way to reach Holy Island every year. Whether you're reaching the end of a long walk on St. Cuthbert's Way or just walking over to the Island, to take of your boots and squelch barefoot across the mud is a wonderful experience.

"When it was suggested that Peregrini Lindisfarne could replace the missing poles as part of our Sacred Corridor project, we jumped at the chance. As well as the replacement poles a new seat will be soon installed on the Island, at the end of the Pilgrim's Way which, as well as a place to put your boots back on, will be a place to sit a while and reflect on your own pilgrimage."

Information on safely walking the Pilgrim's Way can be found the Northumberand Coast AONB Partnership Website

Iain Robson
Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership
07774 715744


Highlighting Marine Pollution

On 2nd January we returned to work, that morning we received a call to say a young pup, caught in fishing gear was on Ross Sands heading towards Budle Bay.

It was raining and sleeting heavily when I arrived on the deserted beach, I was joined by Steve Dixon a British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) volunteer who arrived with a dive knife and seal carrying bag. We walked towards Budle Bay but after almost 3 miles we couldn't see much and almost turned back. We decided to go just a little further and spotted what appeared to be marine litter on the shore, then we noticed tiny track marks.

The pup lay still and we thought we were too late. As we moved closer she lifted her head, she was badly entangled in a broken lobster pot and the poor thing was exhausted!

Steve held her still, whilst I cut the net from around her neck. She had a deep wound where the rope had cut into her. We decided to lift her to the vets. We carried a handle each as we hauled 19kg of seal pup back across 3 miles of sand, dunes and farmland. Steve drove her to the vets.

She was tube fed and given antibiotics at the vets in Alnwick before being released the same day, as other than her injury she was a very healthy young seal.

Things ended well for this pup but it could have so easily ended differently as it does for other marine animals that become victims of pollution.

During our regular beach cleans, 'ghost fishing' gear is commonly among the offending items, if people can commit to even doing a 2 minute beach clean whenever they visit the beach it can make a difference.

Get in touch if you would like to take part in a beach clean this year. We will also be running outreach events to raise awareness about wildlife on the reserve.

The first events will be 'Meet & Greet' sessions during February half term.

Reserve staff & Volunteers will be in the Window on Wild Lindisfarne with binoculars and wildlife information on:-14th, 15th & 16th February 10:00-12:00.

We will be cleaning the beach at Budle Bay on:-19th February, 10:00-12:00, meeting next to the white railings.

Please contact me at the reserve office for more information.

Annie Ivison
Reserve Warden,
Natural England
Tel: 01289 381 470

NEWS FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre opens again for the 2018 season in February.

Heatherslaw Cornmill and Heatherslaw Railway (subject to weather!) will be open on 13th, 14th and 15th February for half-term fun. Heatherslaw Cornmill is also open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11am-2pm throughout the winter and early spring.

Please check for full details.

Appearing at Etal Village Hall Saturday 24th February 2018

Finalists in the BBC Radio 2 Folk awards 2017 as best newcomers, FARA brings together four emerging musicians at the forefront of today's young Scottish folk scene --Jennifer Austin, Kristan Harvey, Jeana Leslie and Catriona Price's three fiddles and a piano -- to produce a fiery sound rooted strongly in their upbringing among the music of Orkney. Releasing their debut album 'Cross the Line' in September of 2016, the band have gone on to appear on some of the great stages of the world including the Royal Albert Hall in London (BBC Radio 2 Folk awards 2017) and Glasgow Royal Concert Hall where they appeared with Cherish the Ladies at Celtic Connections 2017.

"Fara are certainly a quartet to watch. Cross The Line is an ambitious, accomplished and beautiful debut that showcases four musicians' superb and sensitive musicianship and charming vocal harmonies. A delight." - **** Songlines Magazine

Tickets 12 please book and pay in advance.

Contact Steve or Helen on 01890 820566 or email

Payment by cheque to 22, Etal Village, Cornhill-on-Tweed, Northumberland TD12 4TW
or contact as above to arrange payment by BACS

An Evening with Colin Skeath

Etal Village Hall, Saturday 3rd March, 6-7.30pm - hosted by Active 4 Seasons

Come and meet the brains behind the amazing first circumnavigation of UK mainland by open canoe.

Colin Skeath MBE and his nephew Davis are the first and only people to have Canoed around mainland Britain. Completed in the summer of 2017 this was an amazing feat which has not been repeated!

Colin is not new to physical challenge but this trip was increadible and we are honoured to have him available for this special event. Tickets must be booked in advance

Dates for your Diary

Heatherslaw Light Railway opens for the season on 25th March; Lady Waterford Hall and Heatherslaw Cornmill on 26th March and Etal Castle on 30th March.

Louisa Waterford Bicentenary

This April it is 200 years since the birth of Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford and to celebrate there will be an open weekend involving the Lady Waterford Hall, Ford Church and Ford Castle on 14th and 15th April - more news to come next time!

Also, on the evening of 14th April a celebratory Ceilidh and Supper will be held in the Lady Waterford Hall and tickets will be on sale soon in local shops.


At the beginning of 2018 our parish of St Mary's went into Vacancy as Paul our vicar left Holy Island to live in their new home. Although this time may seem unsettling and a period of change and uncertainty it is also a time of discerning, reflection and prayer. We are supported by Rob Kelsey our Area Dean and Archdeacon Peter Robinson through this process and over the next few weeks we will be putting together a Parish Profile which is our opportunity to reflect our parish, our hopes and vision for a new priest. We ask for your thoughts and prayers for those involved in this.

'Farewell Paul and Thank You'
Paul and family pictured as we gathered at the St. Cuthbert Centre for his presentation on Sunday 26th November following him presiding at Eucharist for the last time as our Vicar. - Photo: Thelma Dunne

On a practical note we have retired priests from the Diocese coming to help with Sunday services and locum priests coming to support us from March onwards which will be a valuable support to those involved in daily services and to our parish as we get busy through the year.

Our pattern of services in church will remain the same until locums are in place and we are joined by Archdeacon Peter Robinson from Palm Sunday for Holy Week and Easter.

Should you have any matters of concern, particularly if you wish to arrange a visit to the church, in the first instance please contact me at:

Sam Quilty
Parochial Church Council


( Churchwarden )

Pattern of worship for Sundays
 8am Holy Communion (BCP) 
 10.45amParish Eucharist 
 5.30pm Evensong
Pattern of worship for Weekdays [Winter]
Morning Prayer8amMonday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
Holy Communion8amWednesday and Friday
Evening Prayer5.30pmEvery day



meet our hospice team