• A bit from me...
  • Spaceman seen on holy island?
  • Crossman Hall
  • HM Coastguard
  • Lindisfarne Castle
  • First signs of spring around the island
  • Lindisfarne NNR
  • News from Ford & Etal
  • From our United Reformed Church
  • From our Parish Church
  • Holy Week and Easter services 
  • St Mary's notices
  • Pilgrimage to the Island
'St Cuthbert's Island'
(at full tide)
A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

'St Cuthbert's Island

Dear *|MMERGE3|* ,

Welcome to our March newsletter on a day of countrywide disruption as the bitter winds sweep across from the siberian plains. And as snow obscures my window I wonder if the island electrical services will stay in tact long enough to complete our newsletter.

NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL: Firstly, having made a few trips to the mainland recently I notice that the highways department seem to be honouring the request made on our behalf, by our County Councillor, for regular causeway sweeping. So thank you to our Parish Council, NCC and Roderick Lawrie. 'Part-one' of the plan is working - now let's get the road safe for ourselves and our visitors!

HOLY ISLAND VILLAGE (entry): Work continues along part of the 'beautiful tree-lined avenue' into the village. Even in the midst of a blizzard the workmen persist perhaps driven to get the pathway and verges clear in time for the fast-approaching Eastertide. And there certainly will be throngs of pilgrims and other visitors continuously passing their building site.

'THE VACANCY': The Holy Island Parish is now without a vicar. Until the Bishop appoints a new one a period of interregnum exists. Our Church Warden assumes responsibility for the running of the church reporting to and guided by our 'Area Dean'. The PCC is currently describing the situation to be faced by an incumbent in the form of a 'Parish Plan' to assist the Bishop and potential applicants. Please note that in all parish matters, in the first instance you should contact: Sam Quilty (Churchwarden) E-mail: or phone : 07933925450 .

For those considering visiting the island over the holiday period you may well be interested in  'Pilgrimage To The Islands' to be held in our new village hall on Easter Saturday 2018. This is programmed to be an all-day, cultural event celebrating a healthy mix of art. film, music, nature and tradition of the north east coastline, industry and heritage. Click here for information

We hope you will enjoy our March newsletter and look forward to getting in touch again in April.

In the meantime we wish you a reflective and Happy Easter. 

Geoff Porter
Editor (SitEzine)


Whilst photographing "things" on the Island I thought at first that the builders had, for a joke, erected a dummy climbing a scaffold pole.

On closer examination at home and enlarged, what I thought was a NASA spaceman looks to be a meteorological station relating to the building works.

Shame that it wasn't ET !

Mike and Jane

ED: Thanks for getting in touch Mike. We've been walking past this on most days and never noticed - as have thousands of others since maintenance work commenced. As I grow older I seem to be increasingly looking without seeing...


I must start with a slice of humble pie.

I forgot to acknowledge the generosity of International Company Tree Locate, based in Belford, specialists in artificial trees, plants and flowers.  Company principals the Nesbitt Brothers, donated a selection of trees, plants and flowers to the hall, in memory of their father Roger Nesbitt.

The shrubbery and plants greatly improved the character and atmosphere of the hall. The Trustees thank the Nesbitt Family for their generosity.

Dedication of the Crossman Hall - Reminder

The Crossman Family will attend the dedication of the hall at 14:00 on Friday 23 March. The Trustees invite all Islanders to the afternoon celebration and enjoy a drink, a tea or coffee and a bun.

Coffee Morning

The first Coffee Morning of the year will be held on 2 April, Easter Monday. Any items for the stalls can be handed in at the Oasis Café or left at the hall on Easter Sunday when the tables will be set up.

Pilgrimage to the Island

This first Major event of 2018 will be held in the Hall on Easter Saturday.

The Hall will provide a venue for a unique cultural event. The day will see two headline performances from the regions most respected artists. The evening will see a solo performance by former Mercury Prize nominee Kathryn Williams, who found inspiration among the greats such as Silvia Plath and Nick Drake.

Kathryn Tickell, the world's foremost exponent of the Northumbrian pipes. Composer, performer and very successful recording artists, has played with many well-known musicians, will play with her long-time collaborator Amy Thatcher.

A major feature of the day is the live soundtrack played to black & white film of the Islands and the Farnes', as well as vintage film of North Sea fishing and ship building on the Tyne, the music is composed and performed by Hector Gannet.

A range of other music included jazz from the talented trio 'In Other Words' will be staged in the Hall during the day.

As well as music, there is an intriguingly titled talk by Dr Audrey Verma - 'The Darker Side of Birding' which gives a perspective between twitchers and their targets as they strive to get another tick on the life list.

Food will be available and the bar open all day.

Yoga for all

Ten or so individuals have expressed an interest in joining a Yoga class. I will pass the information to Trudy Morrison, the tutor and let you all know as soon as I hear back from her.


Just as I finish these notes, I have heard from our Solicitor that we are on the home straight. As always there is some paperwork to work through, but it means before long the rain water drain will be connected to the main sewer. At last. Hurrah!

Don't forget to come to the Hall for the dedication and enjoy a celebration drink.



The start of 2018 thankfully hasn't been a busy one for us. We have responded to two incident in February. Both of these incidents have been medical related, working with both the North East Ambulance Service and the Great North Air Ambulance.

Thus, our main business so far this year has been training. We continue to improve our skills in First Aid working very closely with the Ambulance Service as Co-Responders.

The main focus for the early part of this year will be on recruitment. As one of the busier Coastguard Rescue Teams in Northumberland we responded to 65 incidents last year. To ensure that we have a turn out to each incident we need a variety of personnel all with different availabilities. So if you're aged between 18 and 65, have a passion for helping people, you're a team player and live or working within 20 minutes of the Coastguard Station we are looking for you!!

Ryan Douglas
Senior Maritime Operations Officer


We get the keys to the Castle back in less than a fortnight, so as you can imagine things are growing fairly frenetic from our point of view. Leaving aside the remaining snagging work to be completed up on the hill, we also have the not inconsiderable task of moving our little office out of Elm House and back up the ramp. Thankfully we have some help from the good folk at Shunters but given how much we managed to cram into these two little rooms above the shop, it will still take some doing.

I mentioned last month that we weren't returning the Castle's contents until next winter to allow the lime plaster to cure. Well that wasn't entirely correct; next week I'll be bringing back all the Castle's lighting which is of course needed for our visitor route. We will need a whole induction session with the electricians before we move back in as there have been several changes to the Castle's wiring, not to mention a brand new fire & security alarm system having been installed.

In terms of the conservation works, a big moment happened recently when the East (Lower Battery) scaffold came down. This was an urgent piece of work as its presence prevented the flagstones being lifted to allow drainage works to take place, but the real significance of the dismantling was that for the first time in a year the Lower Battery elevation was uncovered, revealing the new sneck harl finish. Elsewhere on the south elevation the scaffolding has begun to come down, and should be completely gone in the next couple of weeks. Suddenly the Castle will look very lopsided with a huge scaffold on the north and nothing on the south. As I said last month that north scaffold will remain in place until the summer, along with a building compound so the public visiting the Castle will be diverted along a scaffold path around the compound (it will all make sense when you see it!). The present routes to the garden and headland won't be affected.

The next job inside is snagging and a final clean before handover on the 8th March, when we will then move in and do our own clean and prepare for the opening on 1st  April. I have shown a fair few people round while the work has been in progress but now that we are nearly done I thought it would be good to organise an open day on Tuesday 27th March. It is a closed tide so I'll open the doors around 11.00 until about 13.00. If you want to come up please let me know so I have an idea of numbers.

On your way up (if you haven't done so already) it might be worth having a look in at the shop. With all the work going on at the Castle it may have gone under the radar that the shop has had a full refit over winter. It is looking fantastic at the moment, and as Mel gets her Spring stock in it will only get even better. The new layout has the till over by the gable end and the back window - reopened after having been blocked by shelving units for ages - floods light in and allows shoppers to see all the plants that will soon be on offer in the back garden.

Best wishes

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


One of the things I most look forward to at this time of year is the gradual development of spring song and courtship from our regular island birds and the first appearances offshore of seabirds on the move.

On a dull and drizzly morning at the end of January I stepped out into the back garden and heard my first Song Thrush in full and glorious voice high in the Sycamores in the Crossgates car park. The first drifts of snowdrops were out, another very early indication of the coming spring.

You'd imagine one of the bright and sunny dawns we've been enjoying would prompt birds into song. But I've noticed before that it's often the damp and dreary mornings which produce the first songs. Robins and Blue Tits were also singing that morning. Since then I've heard the first tuning up rather than actual songs from Blackbirds and Skylarks.

Song Thrushes, with strident triple notes pouring into the cold air, are still common around the village and the lonnens. That's not the case in many other areas where they have vanished, their numbers nationally having crashed by half in recent decades.

I think the reason we've kept our birds is the super abundance of their favourite food, snails, which seem to lurk under every stone and in every damp crevices in our walls and gardens. Thrush "anvils" where they've battered open snail shells on stones are still a common sight around the place.  Elsewhere, the use of slug pellets and other toxic herbicides by gardeners seems to have played its part in ridding areas of pests but at the same time depriving thrushes of their main food supply.

Other island birds are also getting into spring mode. At the Rocket Field, our smallest wintering ducks, Teal, are also in full courtship mood, drakes head-bobbing to females with their continual piping calls. Over the next few weeks we'll be seeing fewer and fewer of them as they begin to move off for their main breeding grounds in Scandinavia, the Baltic States and Russia.

On still morning off the Heugh the Eiders are also courting. Competing drakes are busy surrounding females and trying to impress them with their crooning calls. Further out, scatterings of Long-tailed Duck are also calling and splashing in wild courtship chases. Some of the resident Shags already have their breeding crests and the other day I noticed my first Black-headed Gull back in breeding plumage with a full dark chocolate head.

On the open sea things are happening too. The other day I noticed a sudden gathering of gulls about half a mile offshore. First, half a dozen Herring Gulls began dropping to the surface. Over the next few minutes they were joined by a few Black-headed Gulls and a couple of passing Fulmars. They had obviously discovered a shoal of fish near the surface. Soon a little feeding frenzy was in progress, birds continually and excitedly dropping to snatch at members of shoal who'd ventured too near.

As I watched, two adult Gannets, gleaming white against the grey sea, appeared out of nowhere to home in on the gathering. They were the first I'd noticed this year. Both began to make shallow dives into the midst of the gathering, as if showing the others how it should be done.

The little frenzy was soon over. No doubt the shoal had gone deep out of danger. The birds quickly dispersed leaving the spot quiet again.

Gannets with their six-foot wing span are by far the largest of our seabirds. They are also the most spectacular because of the way they take fish by plunging headlong into the sea, often from heights of sixty or seventy feet. Evolution has reinforced their skulls to cope with the impact of hitting the water at high velocity.

They normally swallow their fish while underwater before rising to the surface. They then have to beat hard to get airborne again to rise and circle ready for their next dive. We occasionally get big feeding frenzies, particularly in late summer, involving scores of Gannets and they are always something really special to watch.

Apart from their black wing tips and ochre yellow heads, the pure white plumage of the Gannets must be the envy of washing powder manufacturers. No other white can match it in terms of purity. It really does make our gulls look dull by comparison.

Song Thrush - one of the island's earliest spring vocalists. [ Andy Mould ]

A few Gannets remain in the North Sea in winter but the vast majority migrates to spend our colder months off West Africa and around the Mediterranean. They start to return to Britain very early, like the two I saw offshore, and these numbers will now increase rapidly over the next few weeks.

Once we are into March long lines of Gannets on the move northwards will become an increasingly common sight out towards the horizon on calm days or perhaps closer inshore when conditions are rough.

Gannets are one of nature's success stories in Britain at a time when the numbers of other seabirds are declining. They are such a common sight off the island between March and October because of our closeness to the world's biggest Gannet colony on the Bass Rock at the mouth of the Firth of Forth where more than 150,000 congregate.

Gannets will travel long distances to fish, particularly when they have hungry young to feed, making continual passages of parties such a familiar sight for us during the summer months. Occasionally in the first hour after a summer dawn I've counted well over a thousand an hour heading back towards the colony after long-distance fishing trips. 

These really are birds worth looking out for from now onwards.


Launch of the Reserve's New Events Programme
(Photos courtesy of Lindisfarne NNR volunteer, ©Ceris Aston)

February may have been cold but it was full steam ahead on the reserve! We undertook beach cleans at the far north of the reserve, Goswick Black Rocks and to the far south at Budle Bay. Half term was busy, as expected on Holy Island, despite the inclement weather. We celebrated our love of birds on Valentine's Day and continued the theme of 'Love Bids' for 4 days. We spent time with around 330 visitors, highlighting the wonderful array of wildlife that inhabit the reserve.

We provided binoculars, telescopes and identification advice for the watching of birds on the Rocket field. Additionally, we enjoyed bird crafts and games designed to educate visitors of all ages about the resident and migratory birds of Lindisfarne. All of the activities were focused on key conservation issues and how visitors can help to support the protection of vulnerable species across the reserve.

For information regarding upcoming Reserve events, contact the Reserve Manager: Annie Ivison  - Reserve Warden, Beal Station

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

NEWS FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

Lady Waterford Hall, Ford

This winter the facilities at Lady Waterford Hall have undergone major refurbishment with a new storage room, a catering-standard kitchen and new toilets, including a fully accessible WC, being installed.  These new features alongside the unique and beautiful main Hall will help to make the building a very desirable venue to hire for events, wedding receptions etc.  Enquiries should be made to

The Hall will re-open daily for the 2018 season from 26th March, with a special celebratory weekend on 14th/15th April to mark 200 years since the birth of Louisa Waterford.  As part of the celebration of the life and legacy of this remarkable woman  the Lady Waterford Hall Trust is running a raffle offering an unique opportunity  -  the chance to win an original Louisa Waterford watercolour sketch (c. 1840) of a young girl. 

Tickets are priced at £1.00 and are available exclusively from Lady Waterford Hall. The raffle will be drawn on 31st October 2018.

Raising funds for the future upkeep and maintenance of the Lady Waterford Hall, Museum and Gallery (Registered Charity no 248898). 

Other attractions at Ford & Etal open for the season as follows:

Hay Farm Heavy Horse Centre:  Tuesdays - Sundays and most bank holiday Mondays from 13th February
Heatherslaw Light Railway: Daily from 25th March
Heatherslaw Cornmill:  Daily from 26th March
Etal Castle:  From 30th March, Wednesdays - Sundays

March Events at Ford & Etal

3rd March:  An Evening with Colin Skeath MBE, Etal Village Hall 6pm.  Tickets in advance

23rd March:  Northumberland Theatre Company present "The Adventures of Johnny Armstrong and other stories"


Celtic Journeys

Celtic Journeys is sponsored by the Community of St. John Baptist, an Episcopal religious order for women in Mendham, New Jersey. Since 1999, these trips have been organized by Sister Margo.

Several times a year she takes groups of fifteen to Ireland, Wales and Cornwall -  and Northumberland, but they like Holy Island so much that they spend their whole time here - apart from a trip to Farne Isles.

I met Sister Margo last Autumn  at one of our hotels. She asked me to talk to them after their arrival meal even though they had jet lag! Last month I met her latest  group. None of them had been before - they just felt drawn to come.

I asked them what they were drawn to. 'The light', several said, 'especially in the afternoon. It has a special, liminal quality'.  Another said 'I want space where I can just be myself'. They decided to have periods of time when they did not talk.

Sometimes I get emails from a would-be tour organizer asking if I can advise them, and I have to reply that I can't be a travel agent. But Sister Margo is happy to advise

Ray Simpson
Founding Guardian


As I write the Island has enjoyed beautiful, clear frosty days with occasional hints of Spring, but, as usual in the UK climate, there is nothing predictable or consistent in our weather at this season of the year.

Throughout March the Christian church walks through the season of Lent, with Easter Sunday falling on April 1st.  The great message of Easter is of God in Christ, with us in death and always pointing us to new life and new hope.  It is a great over-arching theme for all creation and humanity, and for all time, an ultimate hope which offers, in the words of Jesus, 'a peace that passes all understanding'.

However, belief in ultimate truths does not mean that we can avoid living through the seasons of life, and we are constantly reminded that they can be as unpredictable as the weather.   

At this time of year, there are reminders in our gardens, of how shrubs that have been cut to the quick will produce new growth once more, and of how bulbs that inhabit darkness have stored energy to flower again when the time is right.  We cannot predict, or control the seasons of life, but the strength stored up from good relationships and memories can sustain us when we are forced to live through times of uncertainty.

Rachel Poolman


As part of the appointment of a new Vicar for Holy Island the PCC is tasked with producing a 'Parish Profile' which is our opportunity to reflect our parish, our hopes and vision for the future in a document or 'powerpoint presentation' which the PCC will present to Bishop Christine and which will inform all prospective applicants when we begin advertising for a new Vicar.

To reflect a true picture of our parish we will be inviting island residents and regular worshippers at St Mary's to give us feedback through a questionnaire which we will be sending out in the next two weeks in which we would appreciate your thoughts, opinions and ideas.

If you have any concerns or need us to visit please do not hesitate in contacting:

Sam Quilty(Churchwarden) Tel 07933925450 or
Rob Kelsey (Area Dean) Tel 01289 382325.

Holy Week and Easter Services
We are joined by Archdeacon, Peter Robinson, who will lead us from Palm Sunday through Holy Week and Easter.

Sam Quilty
Parochial Church Council


( Churchwarden )

Holy Week and Easter 2018

Saturday 24th March 7.30am Morning Prayer
  8.00am Holy Communion
  5.30pm Evening Prayer
Palm Sunday
Sunday 25th March
8.00am Holy Communion (BCP)
  10.00am Gather for Palm Sunday procession and Coffee at St Cuthbert's URC
  10.30am Liturgy of the Palms and procession to St Mary the Virgin
  10.45am Liturgy of the Passion at St Mary the Virgin
  5.30pm Evening Prayer
Monday of Holy Week
Monda 26th March
7.30am Morning Prayer
  8.00am Holy Communion
  10.00am Holy Week reflections at St Cuthbert's URC
  5.30pm Evening Prayer
Tuesday of Holy Week
Tuesday 27th March
7.30am Morning Prayer
  8.00am Holy Communion (BCP)
  10.00am Holy Week reflections at St Cuthbert's URC
Wednesday of Holy Week
Wednesday 28th March
7.30am Morning Prayer
  8.00am Holy Communion
  10.00am Holy Week reflections at St Cuthbert's URC
  5.30pm Evening Prayer
Maundy Thursday
Thursday 29th March
8.00am Tenebrae
  5.30pm Evening Prayer
until midnight
Eucharist of the Last Supper, Foot washing and Vigil
Good Friday
Friday 30th March
8.00am Tenebrae
12 noon Good Friday reflections
  1.00pm Seven Last Words of Christ
  2.00pm Good Friday liturgy
  3.15pm Hot Cross Buns in St Cuthbert's Centre
  5.30pm Evening Prayer
Holy Saturday
Saturday 31st March
8.00am Tenebrae
  5.30pm Evening Prayer
  8.30pm (tbc) Easter Vigil and Mass
Easter Day
Sunday 1st April
6.15am Dawn service on the Heugh
  8.00am Holy Communion (BCP)
  10.45am Holy Communion
  5.30pm Festival Evensong
Monday 2nd April 7.30am Morning Prayer
  8.00am Holy Communion
  5.30pm Evening Prayer
Note: any revisions to service times are posted on the notice board in the church porch


( Churchwarden )

Church Services until Saturday 24th March

Pattern of worship for Sundays
 8amHoly Communion (BCP) 
 10.45amParish Eucharist 
Pattern of worship for Weekdays
Morning Prayer8amMonday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
Holy Communion8amWednesday and Friday
Evening Prayer5.30pmEvery day



Pilgrimage To The Islands is an event which is being held in Crossman Hall at The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, on Easter Saturday 2018. Celebrating a healthy mix of art. film, music, nature and tradition of the north east coastline, industry and heritage. Please note this cultural event is of very limited capacity.
Confirmed Artists & program to include:
  • *Kathryn Tickell & Amy Thatcher - Northumberland Pipes with Accordian and Clog Dancing.
  • *An intimate solo performance from Kathryn Williams
  • A Nature Walk - Bird and wildlife watching with a local expert (limited places only)
  • The Darker Side of Birding - A talk by Social Scientist Dr Audrey Verma.
  • The Pitmatics - Art inspired by life and work in Ashington, Northumberland.
  • Hector Gannet - Performing their live soundtrack 'Moving North: Coastal' to historic archive local film footage.
  • St James Infirmary - Performs 'How The North Was Won, and Lost'.
  • Sally Wheatley - Johny Brown; Band of Holy Joy, & Gary Chaplin: Quarterlight in collaboration.
  • Keep Breathing - An exquisite acoustic performance by one of Tyneside's best live bands.
  • The Horse Loom - Northumbrian Guitarist, a marriage between British folk music, avant garde guitar playing and punk rock spirit.
  • Ordinaryson - Lush acoustic sounds and melodies from Berwick Upon Tweed
  • In Other Words - a remarkably gifted teenage Jazz trio from Tyneside
  • Coach travel available from Newcastle and Northumberland (selected areas) for full day event.
  • Day tickets on sale now at special price for *limited time only.
  • Locally sourced food & drink will be available.
  • A chance to 'Walk The Pilgrims Route' from the mainland to the island (weather permitting)
  • THIS TICKET LINK includes option of ticket and return travel - limited places only.
* please consider booking as soon as tickets are released.


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