Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve

Location Details


Holy Island

Location and Access

Holy Island is sign-posted from the A1 south of Berwick-upon-Tweed. There are car parks on Holy Island, at Budle Bay, and at Beal, on the mainland.

The island can only be reached at low tide across a long causeway. Before crossing you are strongly advised to check the tide timetables on the causeway's notice board. The Northumberland County Council's website also has crossing information and Berwick Tourist Information (Tel: 01289 330733) has details of the tides and bus service to the island.

Holy Island is on Route 1 of the Sustrans National Cycle Network.

The secrets of the dunes

Brought ashore by water and wind, the sand of the dunes is gradually tamed by marram grass. Once stable, the dunes support many other plants. Early forget-me-nots are among those that hug the ground and need little water. Many insects appreciate this environment, including 'woolly bears' (tiger moth caterpillars). Dark green fritillary and grayling butterflies bask in the sun in July and August. Big brown-lipped snails are also found.

In the dune 'slacks' (the damper hollows) rabbits perform a useful function in keeping the creeping willow well grazed. This allows many rarer plants to establish. In early summer, the purple northern marsh orchid flourishes along with its pinker relation, the early marsh orchid. In July marsh helleborines flower by the thousand.

International visitors

Every autumn, the jet-set fly in! Six internationally important species of wildfowl and wading birds overwinter here. For the pale-bellied Brent geese from Svalbard (Spitzbergen), this is their only regular wintering place in Britain. Pinkfooted and greylag geese, wigeon, grey plovers and bar-tailed godwits are the other VIPs at this 'seaside hotel', where all their favourite food is laid on.

As befits a high-class resort, Lindisfarne has international recognition. It is a 'Ramsar site', a wetland of international significance.


Pirri-pirri bur can be a problem as their seedheads cling to clothing and fur, and can be spread to other sites.

Nature trail

A 6.9 km trail allows the visitor to discover the Island's world of flowers, geese and waders on some of the finest dunes, saltmarshes and mudflats. Two shorter trails take visitors on a tour of the dunes and foreshores from the Snook Car Park. 
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