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Things to do outdoors at Lindisfarne Castle

View of the rocky crag and causeway below Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland, taken at low tide
Rocky crag and causeway at low time below Lindisfarne Castle | © National Trust Images/Joe Cornish

With plenty of places to run around and explore, there’s lots to do outside at Northumberland’s Lindisfarne Castle. Explore the colourful walled garden created by Arts and Crafts designer Gertrude Jekyll in the early 20th century, step further back in time to uncover the island’s industrial past at the Castle Point lime kilns and see the island's curious boat sheds.

Autumn wildlife

As the days grow shorter, the winter wildlife begins to arrive. Large flocks of Brent geese circle over the island and settle on the sand flats next to the causeway,creating quite a spectacle. If you're lucky you might spot something rare in one of the trees around the village, as Holy Island is an important stopping off point for birds making their long migration journeys.

Listen out for the sound of the seal's ghostly "singing" drifting across the water from Ros Sands; on a foggy autumnal day to hear this is particularly atmospheric.

In the garden

As the blaze of summer colour begins to fade in the Gertrude Jekyll garden, the dahlias become the stars of the show. A peaceful spot to sit and enjoy the warm days in the sunshine, and watch the queen bumblebees buzzing around the flowers before their winter hibernation.

As autumn arrives, the island takes on a slower - paced, more mellow feeling, with beautiful golden sunsets more than making up for the slipping away of the long summer days.

A sunrise photograph of Lindisfarne from Holy Island harbour with a silhouetted figure and a bench in the foreground
Autumn provides a great chance to enjoy sunrise on Holy Island | © NT/John Millar
Family looking at flowers in the garden below Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland
Exploring the Gertrude Jekyll Garden below Lindisfarne Castle | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Explore the fields and headlands

Outside of the castle, there is a lot to explore. Wander across the field and take a seat amongst the seedheads left over from the summer, listen to the sounds of the sea and perhaps the ghostly 'singing' sound of the seals on Ross Sands drifting over the island.

If the kids need to run off some energy go for a walk around the castle headland where they can skim stones, watch birds and fly kites. With impressive views back towards the castle, the headland is great spot to stop for a picnic.

Discover the boat sheds

Wander around the 15 fascinating boat sheds on the island – there are three by the castle and 12 in the harbour. Originally used for storage, the boats have been repaired and replaced over the years but they remain one of the most popular attractions on the island. Stop by to snap a picture of these famous upturned vessels.

Three upturned boats that have been converted into boatsheds in front of the coast at Lindisfarne Castle at sunset
Boat sheds at Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland | © National Trust Images/Joe Cornish

See the Castle Point lime kilns

Past the castle, 20 minutes’ walk from the car park on Holy Island or a five-minute walk from the gates of the castle site, lies a reminder of Lindisfarne’s surprising industrial past.

The 19th-century lime kilns at Castle Point – once used to turn limestone quarried elsewhere on the island into quicklime – are a Scheduled Ancient Monument. This designation was made in recognition of the national significance of the site. They’re some of the largest examples of their kind anywhere in the country and the largest actively conserved kilns in the area.

Exploring the kilns

You can walk around them, look into the arches at the bottom of the structure to see where the quicklime was extracted and pass under the wagonway which linked the kilns to the harbour.

Follow the path to the top of the kilns and look down into the wide openings to see where the limestone and coal would have been poured. The views from up there are spectacular too.

You can also see the remains of the jetties where coal was imported and where the quicklime exported. Trace the routes of the wagonways that linked the quarry and the jetties to the kilns.

Explore Gertrude Jekyll’s Garden

The Gertrude Jekyll Garden is a small yet perfectly formed jewel in the landscape. This tranquil garden was created by Gertrude ‘Bumps’ Jekyll on the site of a vegetable patch that once provided the castle’s soldiers with food. The garden is slumbering at this time of year, but will be ablaze with colour in the summer. Look out for shoots starting to appear, and the apple trees blossom in late April if the weather is kind.

It’s a peaceful place to sit and admire the view and listen to the bees buzzing from bloom to bloom in the summer, or watch the flocks of wading birds and geese flying past the castle in the autumn, winter and spring months.

If you spot a plant that you love and would like to take home with you to your own garden, the chances are we will have it in the plant section of the shop in the village.

Preserving Jekyll's vision

Jekyll's original planting scheme was restored by the Trust in 2003. With its geometric layout of paths and beds, the garden is always interesting to look round.

The combination of hardy annuals, colourful perennials and heritage vegetables provide glorious sights and scents in the summer and a leafy, sheltered oasis all year round. It's green, sustainable and wildlife friendly.

Lindisfarne Castle seen from the sea, with the remains of wooden posts rising from the sea visible

Discover more at Lindisfarne Castle

Find out when Lindisfarne Castle is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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