Thursday 30 June 2011

Northumberland - day 6 - Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne dunes

The shelter on Lindisfarne causeway

Walking back on the Pilgrim's route

Paying £3 each allows us to pass through the beaded curtain to look at the exhibits in Lindisfarne Heritage Centre — an interesting film on the first Viking attack in Britain (793 AD) plays out — but not as interesting as the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibit, with its mesmerising film of the strange tools and processes involved in binding books (honestly) — Pilgrims Cafe is closed at 1:30pm, so we head to The Stables instead, just in time to queue behind a large walking group of religious Norwegians — a pair of Scottish ladies discuss spiritual concerns — sat in this sunny walled garden, it finally dawns on me that we are truly on a holy island, and that it has a greater significance to some people than just another tourist destination — with this in mind we head to St Mary's, and become absorbed by the illuminated page of bishops stretching back to St Aidan in 635 AD — a letter of conciliation from Norway in 1993 also hangs on the wall, officially declaring peace between the Vikings and Lindisfarne, 1200 years after the first invasion — on trying the Lindisfarne Mead T declares it to "taste of bees" — walking through the humps and hollows of the dunes, we're amazed at the flora and fauna: common blue butterflies, a swathe of cotton grass beneath a hawthorn, orchids everywhere, purple headed grasses — at The Snook, T possibly spots a Lindisfarne Helleborine — walk through the middle of the low dunes to Snook Point — cross the clean strip of tarmac into the sun — sit in the causeway shelter — follow the poles back to Lindisfarne — mirror-like pools of standing water reflect the clouds — so much further than it looks — Craster kipper supper — I still don't like kippers

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Northumberland - day 5 - north coast

Ross Back Sands

Rain over the Farne Isles

Bamburgh Castle

In bright sunlight we drive to secluded Ross — glorious walk through the farm pasture to rippling dunes — on the way, a truly disdainful look from a farmhand on a quad bike — wide open, endless sandy beach beneath fluffy clouds — Bamburgh Castle, as ever, looms in the distance — walk through the cool, shallow water, avoiding washed up jellyfish — Bamburgh offers few options for a quick lunch — enter, then rapidly depart the Copper Kettle tearooms — settle on takeaway from the deli — the sun disappears — we stroll around Bamburgh Castle, from the cricket green through the dunes littered with chrysalises, marvelling at its size — walk along the magnificent beach wondering why more people don't choose Northumberland over Cornwall — um and ah about snorkelling at Harkess Rocks — eventually we suit up and join the eider ducks in Table Bay, one of the many plunge pools along the rocks — bladder wrack streams from the stones, jellyfish tumble in the seaweed — a shivering escape from the wetsuit — warm up in the car — a couple in the car next to us stare out to the Farne Isles, sharing a bottle of wine in plastic cups while getting down to Bruce Hornsby and the Range — we sit for a while ourselves, watching rain fall over the Farnes

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Northumberland - day 4 - Lindisfarne

Wild flowers on Lindisfarne east coast
Sandham, Lindisfarne
Rippled ledges at Back Skerrs, Lindisfarne

Lazy start, decide to maroon ourselves on the island today — as we leave, six crowded house martins smile from their nest below next door's porch — tasty scone, jam and cream at Pilgrims Cafe — walk along the grassy coastal track scattered with flowers — orchids and burnet moths all over Emmanuel Head — dark green fritillaries waft over the dunes — buckled ledges at Back Skerrs create brilliant rock pools filled with hermit crabs and sea snails — a colourful limpet rotates itself 120˚ — a toy machine gun, squeaky toy and other relics hang from the ceiling of a dry-stone shelter — get lost in the sweltering dunes trying to find the road — pass two unlucky hitchhikers who can't get a lift — more evening photography

Monday 27 June 2011

Northumberland - day 3 - Farne Islands

Boat trip booths at Seahouses
Sea columns of Staple Island

Longstone lighthouse

Brownsman island cottage

Disembarking on Staple Island

Puffin burrows on Staple Island, looking over to Brownsman island

Staple Island, northeast side
Bird life on the cliff edge

Entry to Inner Farne (The Wideopens in the background)
For the birds or the humans?


Thinning vapours, sunny morn — drive the stunning coastal route to Seahouses — join the queue at Billy Shiel's booth — the surprisingly basic Glad Tidings III departs, we board the slightly less basic Glad Tidings IV — we've never seen so many long lenses in one place — the first puffin dips beneath the water, patches of guillemots scatter — a powerful waft of ammonia as we approach Staple Island — a panorama of grey cubist rocks splattered white — guillemots, shags, kittywakes and other gulls sit on stone shelves making a collective din — bobbing heads of grey seals in Brada bay, Longstone — third in line to dock at Staple Island, beneath a canopy of puffins — bedlam: the human life is as frenetic as the bird life — no quarter is given in securing territory for the best shot — within touching distance, shags pant, preen their fluffy young, arrange the nest, call out — the eyes of sand eels (clamped in the beak of a puffin) glint like a row of sequins — sandy burrows among white flowering sea campion — cross the lumpy Staple Sound to Inner Farne — lushly vegetated rise to old buildings — a flurry of arctic terns swoop to feed their chicks either side of the boardwalk — decorative tail feathers fan as its red beak pecks at my head — sun departs, wind rises — cold, tired and jaded — a black backed gull swoops overhead with a chick hanging from its beak — good take away chips and tea from Neptune's on a wind blown bench overlooking Seahouses harbour

Sunday 26 June 2011

Northumberland - day 2 - Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne Priory
The classic position for photographing Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Castle, Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Isles provide the view from the window seat — wander into the village — a Scottish girl at the NT shop gives her boss short shrift, while remaining impeccably polite — the gruff Post Office owner observes us closely in case we shoplift a map — Pilgrims Cafe offers a great cup of coffee and a selection of birds to try and nibble your cake — 12 noon opening at Lindisfarne Castle — the genius of Lutyen conveyed in door handles and fireplaces — the brilliant, slightly mad, wind indicator created by MacDonald Gill— outside: impressive lime kilns, and a by-the-numbers Gertrude Jekyll walled garden — ravaged by centuries of wind and water, Lindisfarne Priory would not look out of place at Petra — a large group of laughing Filipinos congregate on St Cuthbert's Island — we cross to the tidal island with a boy and his dog — in the evening light, T and I wait for the sun to emerge from behind a cloud to take the classic Joe Cornish shot of the castle — walking home, the apparition of a barn owl

St Cuthbert's Island, Lindisfarne

The standing cross on St Cuthbert's Island
The tidal island of St Cuthbert's seen at high tide from Lindisfarne

Saturday 25 June 2011

Northumberland - day 1 - arriving on Lindisfarne

First sight of Lindisfarne Castle

M3, M25, M1, A1: nine hours on the spine of England to Holy Island, Lindisfarne — countryside soundtrack in the Little Chef toilets — poppies and wildflowers grow on roadwork banks like the long border at Great Dixter — eight lanes, hovering kestrels, continuous farmland — the tarmac causeway parts the orange sand to Lindisfarne — an exodus of ramblers — arrive at the perfectly placed 3 Herring Houses — instant tiredness migraine — T hastily steps out with the camera to capture the warm, late light — a photographer's paradise — fall asleep in the bath listening to the creepy moans of the seals on Long Ridge 

Saturday 11 June 2011

Thorney Island

Crossing the bridge at Thornham Marina

The MOD gate to cross onto Thorney Island

Stanbury Point

Marsh channel

Stepping onto Pilsey Island

Pilsey Island

West coast path returning towards Emsworth

Reed beds in the late evening sun

Emsworth Deckhouses

Emsworth Marina

Park by the (pop-up cafe) scout hut — a path of bridges — The Great Deep creates the island — buzzer entry through the MOD gates — a cresting wave of hawthorns to Stanbury Point — MOD structures in the 'Forbidden Zone' — the constant rasping hum of landing microlights — creeping tide on Pilsey Island — memorial bench with a moving book of remembrance for a Gulf War veteran — serpentine grassy path to Wickor Point — reed beds aglow in the late light — not Potakabins nor loos, but Emsworth Deckhouses

Friday 10 June 2011

Outdoor Photography: Island Journal Pt 14

In Outdoor Photography magazine, Issue 141, July 2011, T writes about St Mary's, Isles of Scilly.

Thursday 9 June 2011

For sale: one remote Scottish island

The island of Taransay in the Outer Hebrides has been the site of many battles over the centuries but, sadly, most people know it purely as the location for the hugely popular BBC TV series Castaway

Over a decade after the BBC moved out, the island is up for sale.  For 
£2 million you could own a windswept patch of rock, bog and sand in the middle of the Atlantic. But before you get your wallet out, be aware that you might enter into a modern day battle with TV presenter Ben Fogle.

In all fairness, Ben has more reason to buy Taransay than most - while he may talk about 'the talc-white sandy beaches and turquoise waters' much of his devotion must surely derive from the fact that the island pretty much launched his TV career. 

Ben has hopes of turning the island into a wildlife reserve, and for that alone he gets my vote.