Nordic Walk Pilgrims Causeway to Holy Island
Sat 16th July 2016
The Barn at Beal had very kindly allowed us to park in their car park for the day and asked that we buy something from their café! Do the Nordic Nuts need an excuse for tea, cake or scones? No we don’t!
The weather started dry and not too cold so we took the opportunity to have our coffee outside, Ruth and Debbie were waiting (im)patiently for the cheese scones to come out of the oven. The speed they moved at when they were ready was unprecedented!
Once everyone had arrived, finished their refreshments I handed poles out to those who needed to borrow them.
I introduced myself and volunteers to the group. Most of the group were regular Nordic Nuts but we welcomed a new member, Gordon, to our happy group.
We headed off towards the Causeway with Martin at the front. As always with this group there was a lot of chat, laughter and mickey taking.
At the start of the causeway the group split, one group went over the bridge to avoid the water, meanwhile Gordon, Anne and me decided to go plodging. Anne waited for me and Gordon to check the depth of the water, she watched us go to knee deep and decided to move further up. Gordon crossed and we watched his boots bobbing behind him.
Once we were in bare feet we could see the richness of the mudflats. The surface was covered in tiny dark specks. Looking closely these were a minute sea snail called Hydrobia, a very important food item for the large flocks of ducks and wading birds that arrive in autumn. As well as the fine green strands of filamentous algae we could see another plant which looked like a broad leafed grass, just a few inches long. This is a vital part of the ecosystem and is called Zostera, otherwise known as sea grass. It is an important food for birds and also provides shelter for young fish when the tide is in. It is not an algae like seaweed, but a flowering plant. There are two species here, one reproducing by underground stems (rhizomes) and the other by seed and is an annual. Lugworm casts were everywhere and there were large quantities of cockle shells. Some of the shells had a small hole in them made by dog whelks which predate them. Occasional small shore crabs scuttled along and there were a few winkles for those who like to eat sea snails.
Once the group came back together everyone went at their own pace.
There was a constant background noise that sounded like wind howling in a boat’s rigging. As we got closer to Lindisfarne we could see the “mermaids” singing. There was a large rookery of several hundred seals. These were mostly the larger Grey seal which give birth around November on the Farnes.
The sand quickly gave way to a very thin layer of mud which was very slippy, it was like walking on an icy pavement. The going underfoot now regularly changed from mud to sand to large areas of sand under shallow water. Anne was the first to slip over fortunately it was only her knee which ended up on the ground.
The next issue to impede our progress was an area of mud flats with lots of deep holes filled with black water. Step forward Jean to slip spectacularly in the black muddy water, she was laughing so hard she couldn’t get up. Russell tried to be a gentleman and help her up but Steve was shouting “get out of the way I’m trying to take a photo” worse for Jean they were videoing her misfortune.
Thankfully we reached the end of the causeway without any further incidents.
We reached Holy Island and most of us headed to Pilgrim’s Café for lunch. We had 1½ hours on the island to have lunch/explore and visit the mead shop.
We had been lucky with the weather up to this point but as we all expected the weather changed and it started raining, waterproofs donned we headed back along the causeway. As we joined the causeway a heron watched us from the other side of the road: perhaps was an immature bird but it was probably just that it didn’t recognise our group as human.
Martyn got back first as he was hoping for a cheese scone – he was lucky on his third attempt of the day.
We didn’t hang around at the end of the walk as we were soaking but some of the group headed to the Lindisfarne Inn for a drink.
I really hope you enjoyed this unusual walk. For clarification the distance measured 8.97miles.
Our next walk is Warkworth to Amble (and back) on 24th July and is around 5 miles.
Thank you for coming along on this walk and thank you to Ruth and Martin for your help and hard work in making this a great day.
See you soon