Spiritual Tourist: Two-stop Weekend in Northumbria

During our tenure here in Scotland, we’ve wanted to take in more than just the cliches  of Scottish and English culture like bagpipes, pubs and castles.  We also wanted to enter into the spiritual landscape both present and past. Recently we undertook a pilgrimage -on wheels- to one of the island’s more obviously named sites,  ‘Holy Island’ or Lindesfarne. This is the terminus of St. Cuthbert’s Way, a path that crosses from Melrose Abbey to the island and takes about a week to walk. IMG_0317

The path ends rather dramatically by requiring one of cross a tidal causeway which disappears at high tide! You can choose to cross on the road or for the brave, the mudflats guided by poles sticking out of the mud. Hubs did the entire St. Cuthbert’s way several years ago with his Dad and did the mudflat crossing. He claims that it was not as fun as it sounds.

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Causeway at low tide to Lindesfarne

The island has a very cute village with the old priory -in ruin- which stands on the site of St. Aiden and St. Cuthbert’s monastery founded in 635 AD.

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The ruin of priory church built c 1150.

Lindesfarne Castle, with its striking profile alone on the windswept point, was built on a volcanic mound in 1570 with some stones from the destroyed Priory. DSC_0305

We stayed at the lovely Crown and Anchor Inn in a simple room. And found good shelter from the rain at Pilgrim’s Coffee taking a break from being photographer…

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Upsidedown boat houses!! Sheds really….

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Our second stop on our spiritual tour was the Northumbrian Celtic Community This is a retreat center of sorts offering various courses and quiet getaways. This weekend was a quiet time of solitude or community depending on your preference.  We were greeted warmly by our hosts and shown around the grounds and to our room on the cloister courtyard. We participated in several of the group liturgical times during the weekend (morning, midday, evening prayer, compline)

The meals were eaten in community around a large table and we met folks from all around the country.  The highlight of the weekend was Saturday evening compline held in a rustic chapel in the woods with a roaring fire in the stove and candles flickering in the night. A delightful quiet worshipful time. Everything about the weekend was very simple and slow. And with little cell service, a much needed break from technology of the internet sort.

The community is situated on a working farm with beautiful scenery all around..

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….including some of the scents and aromas that come with farm life!

The northumbrian coastline is a mostly quiet place as its a bit far for the southern England crowd and overlooked by the Scots to the north. Lots to explore so we will be back someday soon!

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