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33. Lindisfarne

start: Spittal, Berwick
distance: 27 miles
OS map: 75

Lindisfarne route mapA coastal route on tracks and bridleways that crosses the causeway onto Holy Island, or Lindisfarne. Because the causeway is covered at high tide, you need to check the tides and allow time to get on and off the island - the tourist office in Berwick should be able to help (phone number on Info page).

On the south side of the Tweed, and opposite the pier in Berwick, is a car park out on the point at (005 521). From here a path leads over grass to the promenade in Spittal. Follow along the front and just at the last house there's a narrow tarred path leading off to the R. This will take you up onto the top of the low cliffs giving good views back towards Berwick. To the S you can pick out Lindisfarne and to its R the outline of Bamburgh Castle.

The grassy track continues for a couple of miles to join a road at Sea House which follows the beach. A mile or so down here brings you to a small car park by an old wartime pill box. Take the track round to the R of this and go through a gate into the nature reserve. Sand dunes are on your L as the track heads SE and past a small lake. Stop at a 'crossroads' by a bridge over the railway after a mile. Because there is a golf course further on it is recommended that you skirt this to avoid any potential problems. It might be possible to head onto the beach and either push for a while or, depending on the tide, find firm sand to cycle on. If that doesn't appeal then you need to cross the bridge and head slightly uphill to Cheswick. When you get there take the L turn which brings you on the road down to the golf course clubhouse.

This road continues down the coast and after a mile and a half you'll reach a caravan site. Follow round to the R and the road turns into a grassy track with sand dunes again to your L. The track turns to the S then E to a bridge over a stream. Go over the bridge and turn L but the path here can get quite boggy as it works its way round the coastline. It leads round to join the road over the causeway to Lindisfarne at a small car park. You can check the tide tables here. If the weather's on your side it's easy to spend some time on the island - there's a castle, priory, shops, pub etc. Try some of the Holy Island mead...but keep an eye on the tides if you do!

It's certainly possible to retrace your steps but if you fancy a change then there's an inland diversion as an option for the way back. It goes via Haggerston Castle - a bit touristy for me but maybe worth a look - and some bridleways. Make sure you've got a decent map because these bridleways aren't used very much and the route isn't always obvious.

Take the main road off the island and carry on to where it meets the main A1 at the Plough Inn. There really isn't much choice here but to cycle on the main road for a mile and a bit to Haggerston Castle. (What looks on the map like a possible route alongside the railway line and into the 'back' of the castle doesn't go - padlocked gates etc...). So, go past the main entrance to the castle - unless you want to go in, that is - and take the 'Picnic Area' turning. There'a a phone box and although a sign says 'residents only' this is, in fact, a public bridleway so go ahead. Turn L just as you come to a high red brick wall. A few yards along here as you come to some cottages on the L go straight ahead looking for a small gate with a blue 'bridleway' sign on it. Go through this, and a couple of others, and following the R edge of a field. At the far end there's another gate that brings you out by a cattle grid.

Look ahead and diagonally over to your L to spot the next gate. The route goes along the L of a field now aiming for a small stone bridge. Cross the bridge, sharp R then sharp L following a track that leads past a windmill and up towards farm buildings. As you reach the buildings take the track to the R going past some cottages on the R. This track goes into a field following the L side to emerge into another field. When we were there, this field had recently been ploughed and sown but the route actually goes straight across the middle of it, through a hedgerow, and straight across the middle of the next field as well to reach a gate with the familiar 'bridleway' sign. Looking ahead you'll see the obvious Ladythorne House - the route passes in front of this and goes up to join the road. Turn R and then L to join the outward route.

jb, galashiels

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