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Sea Kayaking in the Northeast of England

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Holy Island

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Other Trips:- St Abbs Head to Pease Bay...... Berwick to Eyemouth...... River Tweed...... The Farne Islands...... Beadnell to Boulmer...... Boulmer to Amble...... Coquet Island......

Page Contents :- Introduction . . Description . . Access . . Tidal Info . . Natural History . .


Holy Island is a small island lying between Banburgh and Berwick-upon-Tweed, that is linked to the mainland by a tidal causeway, accessible only for about half of each tide. When the tide is rising it comes in very quickly as many motorists have discovered to their cost, so check the tidal crossing information boards at the start of the causeway before crossing.
CROSSING TIMES LINK - Holy Island causeway crossing times

The island is low lying with long sandy beaches and low rocky headlands. A small village is located at the southern end (population about 200) along with the harbour, monastery and castle.
The early Christian monastery was established by St. Aidan in 635 AD and later home of St Cuthbert, as well as the Lindisfarne Gospels. The visitor centre is well worth a visit.
The castle built in 1540 AD, to protect the harbour, is one of the islands dominant features and is built on an outcrop of whin sill overlooking the harbour and facing the sea.

Holy Island is very heavily visited, especially during the summer,( and although you will be going during high tide when most visitors have left), it has resulted in some access restrictions. Please read the following section on access prior to visiting.

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Traffic Restrictions

A new access agreement is being discussed.

For the latest access details please contact either :-
the Canoe England Sea Kayaking Coastal Officer - Ollie Jay - 07941 450064


the Holy Island Harbour Master - Paul Douglas - 07548 675505

Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve Bylaws

A further agreement is in place with English Nature who manages the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. The area of this Reserve covers the entire coastline around Holy Island, from Cheswick Black Rocks (5 kms / 3 miles south of Berwick) to Budle Point. It includes most of Holy Island, all of Holy Island Bay and Budle Bay.

The purpose of the reserve is to protect nesting birds during the breeding season (April to August) The sensitive areas are the north side of Budle Bay, Ross Links, the Wide Opens and Guile Point.

During the winter the reserve is heavily used by migrating and over wintering flocks of waders and wildfowl with the most sensitive area being Fenham Flats.

Holy Island itself is not a significant bird reserve, as visitors walk all over it throughout the year.

The bylaw prohibits the: -

  • Launching of a boat (canoe/kayak) into any part of the reserve
  • Carrying a boat across any part of the foreshore
  • Camping / Bivouacking within the reserve.
  • There is no camping allowed on Holy Island.

    The Access Agreement states: -