Things to do outdoors at Lindisfarne Castle
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.
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.
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.
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.
The garden is a peaceful spot throughout the year, find out what there is to see at this time of year.
From the Kitchen and cosy Dining Room to the views from the Upper Battery, explore inside Lindisfarne Castle to imagine how residents lived in centuries past.
Discover what family-friendly activities are on offer during October half term at Lindisfarne Castle in Northumberland, from bird and seal spotting to flying a kite and skimming stones in the sea.
Discover the history of Lindisfarne Castle and its surrounds, from the area’s industrial past and curious boat sheds to the castle’s renovation and its dedicated caretakers.
Your dog is welcome to join you on the many walking routes on Holy Island and the land around Lindisfarne Castle, a one pawprint rated place. Find out what to be aware of and the facilities available.