Still a place of pilgrimage even in these more secular times, the Holy Island of Lindisfarne is the very fountain head of England's Christian heritage.

It was on Holy Island that the early Christian message was honed and distributed to a largely pagan Northumberland.

Lindisfarne Priory

Lindisfarne Priory

Lindisfarne Priory was the home of St Cuthbert and the birthplace of a true national treasure - the Lindisfarne Gospels, a unique illuminated Latin manuscript of the gospels of Mark, Luke and John.

The Lindisfarne Heritage Centre contains an electronic copy of the book - the real version is kept in London's British Library - and also presents a complete history of the island that brings the story of St Cuthbert to life.

And pilgrims of a different type also find their way across the Holy Island causeway to see another of its treasures, although you must remember to check the tidal times before you set off.

Holy Island has a national reputation as a wildlife haven and is home to a national nature reserve. As well as numerous rare birds, you may even spot the grey seal that are resident on the nearby Farne Islands all year round.

Standing on a rocky outcrop overlooking the island is Lindisfarne Castle - a small fortress first built in 1550 and today looked after by the National Trust.

Holy Island is small, but its close-knit community has adapted well to the thousands of visitors that descend on the island every year. Find a sunny bench outside a local pub and sample a fresh crab sandwich - a Northumberland specialty. There really is nothing like it.

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