The lower castle walls studded with wildflowers and the sheep in the meadow give the Holy Island of Lindisfarne a colorful and lively surrounding.
There are times when we travel across the globe only to be hugely disappointed that the monument of our dreams is covered in scaffolding. The U. S. Capitol building in Washington D.C.? The Trevi Fountain in Rome? Well, this time it was Lindisfarne Castle on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in England. I had admired photos of Lindisfarne Castle online with brilliant colors of sunrise or sunset and high tide surrounding the sky high castle. I had even bought a book on photography in the region.
Fortunately, the castle was reopened to the public on April 1, and I was able to walk the interior. A local shopkeeper told me the scaffolding is much less intrusive than it has been. This old castle gets quite a bit of wind and rain damage from its perch right on the North Sea.
With a footnote that the above true photo was altered in Photoshop, here is my edited image. It helps us to imagine the site without scaffolding. The timing of my visit was 3pm.
How appropriate that I should find sheep grazing on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, since sheep are often used in Bible stories as symbols of the common man in need of a good shepherd. I was able to walk fairly close to this small herd and this one sheep who had wandered off. I must have looked more like a wolf than a shepherd, because the sheep were calling out, “Baaaaah.”
Sheep need to avoid eating this beautiful blue flower, Viper’s Bugloss, that grows wild in England, because its burrs can become lodged in the throat, often creating the need for extraction or even surgery. Burrs aside, the flowers affect the sheep’s liver.
I learned about these beautiful yet troublesome flowers in the Poison Garden of Alnwick Castle, which is also located in Northumberland, on the northeast coast of England.
Lindisfarne, the Holy Island, is isolated from the mainland by the tides for five hours a day, but can be visited during low tide. Most visitors flock to the 16 century castle, which is normally quite picturesque, but is now shrouded in scaffolding as part of its restoration. I found the hike to the castle quite beautiful, along the border of this sheep farm.
Saints Aidan and Cuthbert, both living in the first century, spent time on this island. Saint Aiden was an Irish missionary who founded a monastery here, and St. Cuthbert was a monk who lived as a hermit on Inner Farne and later became bishop of Lindisfarne. (Source: Eyewitness Travel, Great Britain.)
According to the locals, weather in the Scottish Highlands can be described in one of three ways:
A steady mist kept our windshield peppered with tiny drops as we passed the rugged landscape in Glencoe. The vivid green ground cover attests to the fact that most days here are either atmospheric or dramatic with steady precipitation and rapidly changing conditions.
While this region may look like a hiker’s dream, we heard cautionary tales of hikers who grew fatigued on long treks through thin air who treated themselves to a nap, hoping to awaken refreshed. Many hikers who nap succumb to hypothermia.
For some reason, I find this animal hilarious. Drive the Scottish Highlands, and you will meet a Highland Cow, affectionately known as the “Hairy Coo,” by the locals. Their coat is tough enough to withstand nearly constant rain and long, cold winters. The bangs over their eyes may function as sunglasses, but makes them look like survivors of neglect. Moving slowly, they seem docile and not very smart, but who knows what they are thinking?
After a few days of city life, it feels so good to get out in the countryside and see a far different part of Scotland. Heading north across the Firth of Forth (the estuary of the Forth River), we stopped in the coastal town of Elie to stretch our legs. I wasn’t going to risk getting sand in my shoes, but I’m very glad I did take a few steps on to the quiet beach to admire this lovely crescent shoreline.