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Things to do outdoors at Lindisfarne Castle

A view of three lime kilns on a beachfront with Lindisfarne Castle in the background
Lindisfarne Castle's lime kilns | © National Trust/Paul Stevenson

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.

See the Gertrude Jekyll Garden in full bloom

Ablaze with summer colour and fragrance, Gertrude Jekyll designed it to be at its very best while Edward Hudson was enjoying his holiday home; look out for the dropped wall offering Edward and his visitors to admire the garden.

In July and August particularly, the garden is a riot of colour, with eight varieties of sweet pea filling the garden with a sweet scent and tall crimson hollyhock give height to the garden. Look out for the lavatera and chrysanthemum adorning the pathways, laid out by Lutyens. During September, gladioli and sedum add to the spectacle.

Girl running in Gertrude Jekyll's garden at Lindisfarne Castle, Northumberland
Girl running in Gertrude Jekyll's garden | © National Trust Images/Annapurna Mellor

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 tulops and daffodils, 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 beginning to wake up at this time of year, and 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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