In June I visited Iona for the first time. Iona (a remote island in the Inner Hebrides) is where St Columba set up shop in 563 to convert the locals (Picts, back then) to Christianity.
In August I made it a double by visiting the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland. St Aidan was sent there from Iona in 634 to establish a priory and convert the locals (Angles, maybe) to Christianity.
I’m not the slightest bit religious, so these pilgrimages are historical only. The two coming together was just coincidence.
Lindisfarne had been on the wish list for a year or so, since I started visiting Newcastle regularly for work.
Dr D’s August holiday coincided with a suitable tide, so off we went.
Tide? Ah, yes. The island is only accessible by foot or car at low tide, by means of a causeway.
It’s less than 2 hours by car from Fife, assuming it is possible to avoid the rush hour carnage around Edinburgh. A 9.30am departure achieved that and got us there for the causeway opening at 11.30am.
So we did the tour of the castle, took in the ruins of the priory and went into the parish church which stands on the site these days.
The castle is unusual and certainly a highlight.
Did we feel moved, or even vaguely spiritual?
Well, perhaps Dr D did but then she is religious. I was more interested in trying one of the crab sandwiches on sale everywhere. I blame the sea air.
The island is unique, so setting aside (temporarily) my cynicism, I’m glad we went.
ⓒ iain taylor 2016