A good photograph is knowing where to stand - Ansel Adams

Lindisfarne Castle
Monday, 21 September 2009 21:24

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Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Castle, and indeed the rest of Holy Island, is only accessible via a causeway at low tide. It is perhaps this fact as much as any other that lends the site so much of it's mystique. Certainly it's location, perched precariously atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the North Sea makes the castle alluringly photogenic, but the fact you are on a tidal island is always close to your thoughts. Especially if travelling back on foot, you'll have to be aware of the times of the tides lest you be stranded until the next low water. To some, it is perhaps an unwelcome reminder of the old adage that time and tide wait for no man, and nowhere is it truer than Holy Island; for there are no alternative crossings available. In an age where most of us have become so isolated from nature, I think it will do none of us any harm to have our 'busy schedules' at the mercy of the seas for a few hours.

The causeway itself is around 3 miles long, and is closed from 2 hours before high tide until 2 hours after. Tide times are printed in local newspapers and are displayed at each end of the causeway. Additionally, tide tables can be obtained at Northumberland Life. If planning to walk across to the island, be aware that there is quite a long walk from the head of the causeway to the castle, so you should have a good idea of your capabilities before setting out, and give yourself plenty of time. Don't attempt the crossing by any other route as the sands can be treacherous, though guided walks are apparently available.

Public transport to and from the island is available, though make sure you check the bus timetable beforehand. Buses do not run every day, and there are a few surprises as to what days the buses don't run! The nearest taxi service is in Berwick upon Tweed, and although they will pick up at Holy Island, you'll be charged for the milage out from Berwick. This ran to about £25 each way when I last checked.

Lindisfarne Castle

The castle's island status makes photography challenging. If you are looking for a high tide shot, this will obviously mean spending a few hours there at minimum, and possibly even spending the night. Once the tide is high enough to be in shot, your retreat back across the causeway to the mainland will be blocked by the sea. This presents no problem in all honesty; the island has many pubs and cafes to pass the time in once you have your shots in the bag. Accomodation on the island can be expensive though, and can fill up quickly in the summer, so make sure you book ahead of time if you decide to spend the night.

As to equipment, you'll need all the standard fare for a coastal location, and a good solid tripod should probably be considered essential. If you want to slow your exposures to capture motion in the sea, you either have to time your visit to coincide with sunset or sunrise, or else pack a neutral density filter. As usual, a polariser will help give your skies a boost, and will probably be worth packing.

You should note that also in the area are the equally impressive coastal castles of Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh Castle. My last trip encompassed both of these sites, and if you are making the journey I'd strongly recommend you visit them both also. All three of these sites can be reached via the A1 from Newcastle or Berwick-upon-tweed, with all of these areas being serviced in the summer months by the 505 and/or 501 buses from both Newcastle and Berwick-upon-tweed.

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I am on a constant lookout for new and interesting locations. If you know of a potentially photogenic location you'd like to see included in the guide, please let me know.