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Lindisfarne Causeway

Located in the county of Northumberland, in the extreme Northeast corner of England, just a few miles south of the border with Scotland, it lies a tidal island known as Holy Island, also called Lindisfarne. Twice a day the ancient path to the island disappears with the tides, leaving the Holy Island of Lindisfarne out to sea. Each year there are many reports of people 'risking it' and having to be rescued from one of the raised safety points on the causeway. 

It’s a historic small island located in the west North Sea, 2 mi (3 km) from the English Northumberland that access is by a paved metalled causeway, called Lindisfarne Causeway, which is covered by the North Sea twice in every 24 hour period. This stunning and remote island is home to Lindisfarne Castle and Priory and is surrounded by breath-taking coastal scenery. It gets 650,000 visitors from all over the world every year.

  

It’s said to be the England's greatest secret. The drive is definitely worth it. A drive not to be missed! The modern causeway that is cut off twice a day by the tides, is about a mile long. The causeway was constructed in the mid-1950s. Until then—for 1,300 years—the Pilgrims Way footpath, marked with a line of upright poles, was the only access to the island. To avoid skidding on this slippery road, drive more slowly, to avoid having to brake suddenly when needed. In general, operate the vehicle controls slowly. In case of dense fog, turn on your headlights and your fog lights front and rear (if available).

There are many excellent photo opportunities. The route is exposed so this ride may suit older children and is best done in dry and settled weather. Do not travel this road in severe weather conditions. It is also strictly forbidden to park on the pavement. When this paved sandbar that’s flooded twice a day at high tide isn’t submerged, this narrow causeway is a slippery stretch indeed and especially treacherous on two wheels. On summers, expect high traffic along the way. Anyone who thinks they or someone else is in danger should call 999 immediately and ask for the coastguard.

  

Located within the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve, at the mouth of the River Tweed on the east coast, the Island has some fascinating history. The journey will stay in your memory forever. The tides can rise suddenly, so pay attention to the posted tidal notices. There are elevated safety refuge boxes along the path in case of mistiming, and there are also local guides to help visitors get it right. Anyways each year there are many reports of people 'risking it' and having to be rescued from one of the raised safety points on the causeway. Their cars aren't as lucky though and are generally ruined, so the lesson here is don't take risks!

The route demands 100% concentration. This road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. It's not just the actual causeway that is covered by the sea. Parts of the road leading along the shore from a point only a little north of the main village car park are also submerged by the tide. When the tide is in, this effectively becomes a place that is best explored on foot. The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. The causeway is becoming a regular scene for dramatic rescue operations by boat crews from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, because car drivers are not reading the tide tables. None of those who are caught out are locals, it's always people who are visiting the area. It’s certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation.

  

Remember the road floods twice daily with incoming tides and as the tides go out slippery seaweed is left all over it. The causeway is closed two hours before high tide and until three hours after. Make sure you check the tide tables. At high tide the road lies under 1.5 - 4 metres of water. Holy Island’s importance as a religious centre dates from AD 635, when the ecclesiastic St. Aidan established a church and monastery there with the aim of converting the Northumbrians.

Today the causeway attracts thousands of visitors a year to watch the twice daily uncovering of the causeway as it miraculously appears from the sea during the ebbing tide. Be sure to check for safe crossing timeson the causeway's notice board before journeying to Holy Island. Don't forget your camera with lots of film/memory, fully charged batteries and an empty memory card! Vehicles can only cross the causeway when the tide is open. Opening times vary significantly every day and you should familiarise yourself with the causeway opening times for the day of your visit! Unless you 'stop-over' (from when the causeway closes until it opens again) you could find yourself having to leave within 7 hours of getting here. Consequently, you may be forced to limit your 'day on Lindisfarne' to activities 'around the village'.

 

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