One of the highlights of my trip was reaching the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. This tidal island becomes cut off from the mainland twice a day when the tide washes over the only road that accesses it. Drivers, cyclists and walkers alike can still reach this hidden gem when the low tide exposes the causeway leading to it and I’d definitely recommend doing so. Wading birds can be seen all across the causeway with curlews aplenty searching for food amongst the shallow water. Stalls selling locally produced jam and honey, homegrown fruit and baked treats can be found outside some of the houses leading into the village and custom was certainly not in short supply.
Lindisfarne Castle sits neatly overlooking the shore
Whilst the castle and its architecture are of course fascinating I always find myself drawn to the natural aspects of an area. Just beyond the castle grounds is an area of rockpools bursting with life. Limpets, anemones, hermit crabs - the list of creatures and the colours they bring is endless.
Some rocks were home to what look like the sea version of woodlice - chitons. These tough looking molluscs use a tongue-like structure called a radula to scrape algae off the rocks which is actually one of the hardest and most wear resistant biomineralized tissues known to date!
A common sight on the pebbly shore of Holy Island - stacks of rocks carefully balanced, defying the gailing wind
By the time I reached the Scottish border, the official end point of my walk, it was hard to believe that it was all over. I’d completed my walk! What had seemed like an impossible task a couple of months prior was finished and I’d had an absolute blast doing it. I won’t pretend it was all rosy - some days my shoulders and legs felt like they couldn’t take many more stretches of long rucksack walks but it’s strange how as soon as you start putting one foot in front of the other it slowly starts to get easier. Add in some birds to watch, a butterfly flitting past or even just a pretty shell and things get even more enjoyable.
The time to switch off from the modern world and enjoy a slower pace of life has been a soul-affirming experience and something I’ll definitely make sure to fit into my usual life a lot more often.
This trip has really highlighted to me the importance of actually getting out there and visiting our coastal regions in person. Being aware of the significance our oceans bring to the planet is one thing but being able to see it, hear it, smell it gives such a deeper connection and appreciation. With the ongoing development of the England Coast Path, a 2,700 mile trail around the entirety of the English coastline, I hope that everyone can have access to the wonders these regions hold. Only when people care about something will they want to protect and preserve it.