A BIT FROM ME Geoff Porter

Dear Subscriber,

After our summer break, welcome to our September newsletter.

Firstly, thank you to so many readers who wrote praising BBC-Radio 4's "Sunday Worship" programme on 18th August. Led by Rev Canon Dr Sarah Hills, the new Vicar of St Mary's Church on Holy Island, exploring the theme of pilgrimage and peace. The programme is available on the  BBC-Radio 4 website: . I regret that we were unable to let you know in advance.

Some readers may have visited the new church website: to discover that during the last week in August we celebrate our founding saint: St Aidan Apostle of England (see the above picture). Indeed, I write having just returned from the well-filled chancel of St.Mary's Church on St.Aidan's day. Perhaps you were amongst the audience to witness the splendid performance of Canon Tristram's dedication 'Shadow of Aidan' acted out in the church on Friday evening. Very well done to all who took part. Celebrations culminate on 1st September with a Sunday Eucharist and a procession. If you're in the area do come along. Whilst the area forecast is an occasional shower - the Holy Island island frequently misses out...

Apart from a prolonged wet start to August, very much like the rest of the country we've had some really glorious weather. Fortunately, in the super-hot spells, we're lucky to be an island where there's usually a beach and cooling onshore breeze. If you visited the island over the summer holiday period I hope you didn't find our car parks too brimming to find a convenient parking space, Visitor-wise, I wouldn't be surprised if numbers in 2019 reached record levels.

Across the river Tweed, In nearby Scotland, school holidays are already over. During the next couple of weeks other children in the UK will be returning to school after their summer break. And the island will begin to experience a different visitor demographic. Within weeks we shall start to see duck and geese arrive from northern climse whilst our swallows and other species will follow the sun into the south. This morning I noticed that Dr.Petts (DigVentures) is visiting again with a group from Durham Uni - presumably to resume their achaeoligcal dig in Sanctuary Close. Whatever the season - photographers always abound on the island. Now we will see a few more of the elderly element. Now we shall see twitchers, twitch; birdwatchers leaning over our walls determining migrating species types; men in leather hats at twilight settling into the reed beds and wetland gullies. As it is written: "In my Father's house there are many mansions... " And Holy Island will see all and look forward to welcoming them.

Of course, with the change of season the nights are getting longer. We always caution visitors to check for a safe crossing. Lindisfarne Causeway is a very remote and vulnerable part of the county. There is absolutely no protection from the weather. When a gale blows you sometimes can't even hear a person shouting in your ear; if you try use your mobile phone there will be difficulty in hearing or being heard; standing and walking against a gale can be almost impossible. But when it gets dark as well it can be darker than you ever imagined - particularly when there's cloud cover. If there's water on the road it's almost impossible to judge its depth...You know it makes sense to check the causeway crossing times . Take heed of the warning signs. If you or you see someone who seems to be getting into difficulty get in touch with the coastguard by phoning the UK emergency number: 999. Please be a safe and welcome visitor.

Welcome to our new author Andy Denton (for our Lindisfarne Nature Reserve (Natural England) and thank you to all our authors for their contributions this month.

Enjoy our newsletter. We look forward to getting in touch in October.

Geoff Porter
Editor (SitEzine)

Stop Press

Author Event - St Cuthbert's Centre, Holy Island
Sunday, 22 September

Join Katharine Tiernan, author of historical novel Cuthbert of Farne, and Mary Low, author of St Cuthbert's Way: a Pilgrim's Guide (new updated edition), for an afternoon of readings, talks and informal discussion.
2.30 Author talks and refreshments
3.45 Open house: chat and book-signing
Admission: £4 to include refreshments, pre-booking advised.


During the last week of term here at Holy Island C of E First School, three memorable events took place - all in a day - a beach service, a visit from a BBC film crew and our grand garden opening.

The children, families and staff from Lowick joined us on the island and we met with Revd Sarah Hills on Jenny Bell's beach for our end of term celebration service. The service was around the themes of St Aidan, love, trust and kindness. The children sang sweetly - accompanied by the seals and the salty breeze. Thank you Sarah, this was a lovely way to give thanks for all the fun, friendship and wonderful learning that had taken place over the last school year.

We then had to do a quick change into our Viking costumes because the BBC had arrived to begin their filming. You may remember that last October, during our Viking topic we all dressed as Vikings and 'raided' the monastery. Chris Jackson from the BBC heard about this as he was researching a documentary he is making for BBC Four about the history of Holy Island and Bamburgh. He spent some time in school filming a lesson and then asked us if we would re-create our Viking Raid. The children were very excited to be asked to crouch down on the beach and then run (loudly!) towards the presenter as he talked about Vikings. The children loved being part of the filming and enjoyed all of the re-takes which meant that they could be very noisy Vikings again and again! The programme is due to be shown before Christmas so I'll let you know when we can watch it.

We then returned to school and were met again by Sarah Hills along with families and neighbours for our garden opening. Our new garden, funded by our federation with Lowick and created by John Moore his Perennial Gardener team, is beginning to take shape. Scarlett-Beau and Lily-Ella worked very hard at our garden club during the last few weeks of term to get the raised beds ready for planting. They planted leeks which were kindly donated by Sheila and David Lishman and sowed seeds for salad crops and herbs.  It was soon time for Sarah and our head, Rebecca Simpson to cut the ribbon and declare our garden open. There was a special mention for Karen Ward who received a certificate from the RHS School Gardening scheme for her outstanding contribution to school gardening, and our thanks were given to her husband Richard for all his generous help. Scarlett-Beau and Lily-Ella also presented my husband, Carl, with a thank you card for all of his hard work clearing and preparing the garden.  We were then delighted to welcome our guests into the garden. Everyone agreed that the garden is such a special place where we can learn through growing and planting our own food and flowers. I must also mention our meadow area on the side of the field, planted by the girls, which continues to buzz with colour as the summer goes on.

I'm looking forward to another busy year here on the island and at Lowick - I'll keep you informed on our playground improvements and the exciting new trim-trail which will be arriving in a few weeks.
Heather Stiansen


It seems a long while since I coordinated thinking and finger punching on the keyboard, so if my brain overtakes my fingers please excuse my lack of practise due to the long summer holiday allocated by our very generous Editor.

The hall fitness area has been well used by those who enjoy pounding treadmill mill and/or riding the exercise bikes.

Gillian D has been actively working on behalf of the hall with the Parish Council to secure a pool table and it should be in place soon. Well done Gillian.

Social activities have been well represented during the summer. The most important being a Coffee Morning held in support of James Douglas. James, an Islander, works for British Airways and enjoys distance running.

This year he is fund raising for Cancer Research and is competing in the Berlin Marathon on 29 September 2019, and he knew he would be well supported by the Island Community raising money for Cancer Research.

A Coffee Morning was held and as usual the town turned out and raised 990+GBPs to help him on his way. Well done to all and the sponsorship will support research into cancer control, a disease that has touch so many of us. Well done James.

Another two successful Coffee Mornings have been held fund raising for local Charities.

Additionally, there were four religious meetings, including Tyneside's West African Church Picnic.
Two concerts held by 'Pipes & Fiddles' and they were followed by a weekend Wedding celebration and finally a local Family that is well scattered got together in the hall for a summer Gathering.

Forthcoming Event Borders author Alistair Moffatt, will be launching his latest book 'To the Island of Tides' a journey to Lindisfarne, in the Hall on Wednesday 11 September 2019, commencing 19:30 Entry £10.00!

He ran the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for a while before he moved on to become director of programs at STV and now lives back in the Borders.

David O' - Contact
OR via the new Crossman Hall website:


We tend to think of butterflies as pretty but rather weak and delicate creatures flitting around the flowers and shrubs in our village gardens and probably not moving very far. After all, with those paper-thin wings how could they anyway?

But this summer on the island we've been treated to an invasion of some really beautiful, fast-flying and highly migratory butterflies, Painted Ladies. They've been present locally in their thousands and nationally probably in their millions.

These highly colourful insects, one of the world's most successful butterflies, originate in North Africa where they breed in arid desert-edge habitats in the shadow of the Atlas Mountains.

Every year some migrate to Europe so we can usually expect to see a few in most summers. But perhaps once in a decade their numbers build up and up, forcing them to move en masse to find nectar-rich feeding.

On such occasions instead of just a few moving to Europe they spectacularly burst northwards out of Africa in their tens of millions. They might look small and fragile looking but they are tough and take part in one of the world's biggest migrations.

They rapidly cross the Mediterranean and fan out right across Europe. Some even reach the Arctic Circle, 3,000km north of their African breeding grounds.  Some cover double the distance travelled by the most famous migratory butterfly of all, the Monarchs of North America, creatures we've all seen on our television screens.

To us these very welcome summer visitors are Painted Ladies. Elsewhere in Europe they have similarly very attractive names. In France they are "La Belle Dame". In Scandinavia they are "Belladonna" while in Spain they are "Bella Dama o Cardero" which translates as "Beautiful Lady of the Thistles"- because of their habit of settling to nectar on thistle heads.

They breed as they go which results in wave after wave of fresh and bright new Painted Ladies emerging to pour into our gardens and anywhere else offering feeding.

The last such huge invasion occurred in 2008 when an estimated 11 million Painted Ladies arrived in Britain. In April that year Hazel, Michael and I were in northern Majorca.  One fine and breezy morning we visited a huge marshland nature reserve rich in birds.  Standing high on wooden platforms giving panoramic views over miles of reed-beds, shallow lakes and canals, we immediately became aware that everywhere we looked Painted Ladies were whizzing past. All were heading steadily northwards at high speed.

A month later back home we began to see the results - hundreds of both faded and tattered insects, presumably the African pioneers, and fresh, newly emerged offspring, gracing the gardens and being attracted particularly to our buddleia bushes even through the flower spikes were just starting to flush with blue and purple.

This summer the first wave of Painted Ladies appeared in early June. The first I noticed were exploring the bright Wallflowers at the base of Osborne's Fort on the Heugh. The group comprised six rather drab and faded specimens, presumably among the first to reach us from Africa. The same day I found a further small group at the north end of the Straight Lonnen, again faded creatures.

Painted Lady by Tom Tams

At about that stage, the North East branch of Butterfly Conservation began to report similar sightings from other coastal localities. Things then pottered along quietly with comparatively small numbers of Painted Ladies continuing to be regularly seen right across the country.

Then in late July things really started to happen with a huge and sudden influx into the region. The butterflies appeared in their hundreds at dozens of locations, particularly along the coast.

Locally, the lads out fishing reported Painted Ladies flying low over the wave-tops past their boats.  Others appeared on the Farne Islands.  On the island, on a very warm and sunny July 27th, around 18 were suddenly in our back garden in Crossgates, homing in on the buddleia.

The same day we noticed at least 30 on a single rich dark purple buddleia overhanging the wall of the garden at the Lindisfarne Hotel. Right through the village people reported similar gatherings of these lovely insects.

All of those we noticed at that stage were bright and fresh insects, presumably the latest generation of the species. Since then many of them seem to have moved on with that instinct to keep travelling northwards probably involved. This has left only small numbers around the village during August and into September.

I hope that if you saw them you enjoyed them. After all, if past experience is anything to go by it could be another decade before they appear in such numbers again..


I mentioned recently that the Wind Indicator at the castle hadn't been quite right and that we had a plan to sort it out, well sort it out we have. This month a couple of colleagues from Cragside - engineer Robin and volunteer engineer Peter - popped across for a morning over the tide to spend cleaning and lubricating the mechanism.

Before they could begin their work though, the night before we had the not-considerable task of exposing everything, not least getting the panel itself off the wall in the Entrance Hall. As I said last month, there is nothing complicated about how the panel is attached, but everything is complicated about getting it down safely. For one thing, the panel has been designed for that space and only that space so finding somewhere just to put the thing is always a challenge. With a couple of step ladders, two screwdrivers, four people and a load of pairs of cotton gloves to protect the gilt-work frame, we lifted the panel down and safely rested it against the fireplace with the help of some sponge blocks and plastazote foam. Upstairs in the East Bedroom, we lifted 10 or so floorboards (all short lengths admittedly) which give access to the mid-point of the mechanism, where is makes a turn under the floor and heads for the wall, where it again turns through 90 degrees before heading up to the roof. The engineers would need access to all three points in order to carry out their work.

The first task the following morning was to cordon off the area so the work could be done safely, but in full view of our visitors. We always try to do this sort of thing in front of the public as it is the core stuff, but where 100-year old, 2.5-metre-wide paintings and big ladders are involved there must be some precautions. Robin and Peter inspected the lower part of the mechanism before clearing out the void in the East Bedroom floor space. They were then able to clean the metalwork and lubricate the bearings and gearing. We did discover there may be a problem with the rod heading to the roof in that it might be taking unnecessary weight which has caused it to bow - every rotation you can hear and feel it scratching the back of the wall (no wonder folk used the think the East Bedroom was haunted!). We may need to do further work to resolve this one. Once the mechanism was done we could get the panel back up - as above but in reverse - and then I had the honour of going on the roof with my 'nudger' (and long pole with a pair of cotton gloves taped to the end - patent pending) to calibrate the Wind Indicator. Once I'd nudged the vane into the direction the wind was blowing, the engineers secured the pointer back on the panel. We just got it pointing South-South-West when, appropriately, a fair old shower blew over from that very direction, driving us inside to a well-earned cup of tea.

That was good job done on what otherwise was a quiet day at the castle, and with the weather and tides that has been an all too common occurrence this summer so far. There have been some busy days though and that will I'm sure become more normal in the coming weeks for the whole island. It was also lovely to go along to the Community Archive Open Day at the Reading Rooms a couple of weeks ago - what a triumph that project has been, and I look forward to making use of the archive and hopefully contributing to it in the future.

Best wishes
Nick Lewis
01289 389903


When we first came for Holy Island family holidays in the 1970s, we used to stay at the Lindisfarne Hotel.  I was about eight or so and to me and my sisters it felt like we'd arrived in holiday heaven.

The Lindisfarne Hotel, originally built in 1903 by two spinsters, is a grand, brick-built Edwardian property.  To us, it was like staying in a stately home.

Back then though its new owners (Clive and Sue Massey) faced a mammoth amount of work.

They had the daunting task of trying to revamp the building and bring it up to date.

The guests' hot water was still being heated by an old coke boiler.

Still, when you're eight, you're far less interested in hot water and much more interested in the chance to explore the island's beaches.  And thanks to our parents' enthusiasm for all things wild, we couldn't get enough of them; hunting out different birds, shells, fossils, flowers, even newts.

We quickly discovered which beaches delivered the best finds: Cuthbert's Beach for fossils,  Coves Haven for rock pools and the waters off Emmanuel Head for leaping salmon and giant white mesmerising birds called Gannets.

An early encounter was finding a huge Gannet sheltering on the beach not far from the castle.  As bird folk know, they're not a common sight on Holy Island's beaches. So coming face to face with one boasting a wing span of over 6ft was a big shock.

The Gannet must have been tired because it didn't look injured and it didn't fly off, even though I'd obviously surprised it.  I was just gobsmacked by its beautiful sleek feathers and its bright beady eye.    I ran back to the hotel as quickly as I could to get the folks to come and see my amazing discovery.

Luckily for us (a trio of budding naturalists) Sue and Clive were also keen to hear about what new things we and their other guests were finding.  And one morning there was some amazing news. On the wild north shore a huge whale had been washed up on the beach. We were used to coming across the odd dead seal....but a whale... this was of David Attenborough proportions.

We all quickly donned our wellies and headed for the shore, where we clearly could see the outline of the huge body.   
It must have been over 20 feet long and had a massive tail. Back in those days Google wasn't around to help with identification and it was well beyond our beginner bird and flower books.

The general feeling amongst the fast gathering crowd was that it was either a Humpback or Minke whale.

Thinking about it now, I suspect it was a  Humpback. They're described as rather lumpy animals that can reach lengths of up to 17 metres and this one was certainly lumpy.

The drawing below shows a comparison between a Humpback (top)  and Minke (bottom).

Illustration by Charles Melville Scammon (1825-1911)

As you can imagine, the day the whale came was a big event and nearly 50 years on it's still the only one I've ever seen on the island.  Today its photo is proudly displayed in the Oasis Coffee Shop - the café that Clive and Sue downsized to when they finally sold their lovely hotel.

In the café you can also find some of Clive's artistic work in the shape of his great map of the island - 'Find Your Way Around The Holy Island of Lindisfarne' - with all 'our' beaches marked on it.

In revisiting the whale, I also discovered that it's not the only giant to have been washed up on Lindisfarne's shores.
Back in 1932 a huge lobster was discovered.

According to a newspaper report in the Tamworth Herald of 2 April 1932, it was over 3 feet long!

Now that's a lot of lobster.


Summer Happenings

This year continues to fly along at what seems close to warp speed, as the long summer days fade and the nights begin to get longer. As I write this another hefty, blustery rain shower is pummelling the window signalling a change to more autumnal weather. It is change that is something that is ever present on the reserve. The shorebird season is mostly finished with large numbers of fledgling birds from Lindisfarne and beyond using the reserve as a staging post before beginning their epic migrations south. On the flipside, thousands of waders and wildfowl are massing in the high artic waiting for the right weather to move en masse to their winter home... Lindisfarne. Already large flocks of Redshank and Curlew are descending on the mudflats with numbers increasing every week.

Our events programme has been in full swing this summer with shorebird crafts for children held at the Windows on Wild Lindisfarne building as well as disseminating the key messages of reserve to adults. We have been making flappy terns, Lapwing puppets, butterfly masks and making huge numbers of badges. There has also been guided walks, rockpool rambles and seal watches. For more information visit where a full list of our upcoming events can be found.

The annual battle with pirri-pirri burr commenced as several groups have been out, clearing the seed heads from the main paths and desire lines within the dune system. This is done systematically every year to hinder its ability to easily spread into other parts of the reserve and beyond. The usual messages of keeping dogs on leads and removing all the burrs from your clothes before leaving were given to tourists encountered. It seems like a thankless task, but there is something oddly satisfying looking back along a clear path that was carpeted with burrs just an hour before!

Another constant battle is with the tide of plastic waste that is continuing to wash up on our shores. A number of litter picks have been carried out on the island itself and there are others planned over the coming month. We ask that you please take all rubbish with you when you leave the reserve. If you would like to take part in an organised Beach clean there is one  scheduled on 14th September. We meet at the snook car park just before 10am (gloves, bags and litterpicker provided).

We normally see a few painted lady butterflies around the reserve every year but this year was a little bit different. Painted ladies make a multi-generational migration from Africa every year and early news reported good numbers further south. The weather on the continent aided their migration and breeding with scorching weather and southerly winds pushing them ever northward towards our doorstep. In the last week of July they finally arrived in numbers that haven't been seen in over a decade. Clouds of these exquisitely delicate aeronauts could be seen on every flower around the reserve. Recently more people have become aware of using nature as a form of therapy and I can definitely concur that there is something that is stirred in your soul when you see these incredible mass migrations!

Andy Denton
Reserve Manager
Lindisfarne & Newham NNRs
Natural England

Pirri Pirri Burr - photo Andy Denton

"That Bloody Burr" is a comment often heard when walking past visitors in the Snook Car Park and along the Sand side Road.

Those of you who walk in the dunes anywhere from Snook Point to Emanuel Head during the summer months will have met this invasive alien plant that produces a flower head that fastens harpoon like to clothing and in particular dog fur.

Pirri Pirri Burr or to give the plant its proper name Acaena Novae-Zelandiae is a low growing tough plant, native to New Zealand and S E Australia and grows over large areas of the Islands dunes. It can grow in large clones or singularly and produces multiple fruits. The fruit is the burr that readily spears and clings to clothing, shoe laces and fur. It has also been observed sticking to the downey feathers of a small number of ground nesting fledging birds and stranded exhausted homing Pigeons.

If you look closely Pirri Pirri Burr fruit you can see multiple barbed tips of the fruit that all too readily lock into clothing, fur and occasionally feathers.

When walking in the dunes when the burrs are present, the only way to protect your clothing is to wear wellingtons. Sadly many visitors who park at the Snook or along the Sand Side Road let their dog(s) out for a run and find to their cost when the dog comes back, its coat is matted with burrs. What a sorry sight to see a long haired dog covered and the owner trying desperately to comb and brush out the Acaena. During the grooming process a dog can become distressed, and those who know the Island, keep their dog(s) on a leash and only let them run free on the sands.

How and why Lindisfarne? Pirri Pirri Burr was accidently introduced into Britain by the wool trade importing fleece from New Zealand and Southern Australia for the wool industry. If you know your local history you will recall that scattered along the Tweed Valley were numerous woollen mills and back in the early 20th Century much of the mill waste, unless it had a value, was discarded into the River and the natural process flushed the waste downstream, clusters of Acaena have been recorded around Melrose and Gala.  The Burr/seed head being tenacious found growing space along the river banks and mature plants produce viable seed. The seeds could then have become attached to the feathers around the hoof of tinker's horses and pony's and then as the traveller brought his goods across the sands to sell on the Island, the seed set on the Snook and has spread across much of the dry dune land.

It has been suggested that Lindisfarne has the largest Acaena population in Great Britain, but I'm not aware of any recent distribution survey(s) and that may have changed. But I do know the dunes are well contaminated and the Burr is one of the first plants to re-colonise bare areas following a dune fire. But the threat to more special Island plants is low, the burr prefers older dry dunes and most of the more interesting plants grow in the damp dune slacks.

In the mid-sixties the Nature Conservancy began small scale low volume weed killer trials in an attempt to identify a method to manage this problem. Having identified a chemical control and the volume of herbicide required. The method of application was then examined and the plant was treated with herbicide using a paint brush to apply a correct dose of weed killer. That treatment was successful and selective with little or no by-kill, but crawling through the dunes on hands and knees was hugely labour intensive and totally impractical.

Next method of application, we used a knapsack sprayer.  This time using a weaker solution of chemical to limit damaging spray drift impacting on non-target species and it was concluded that 2 or 3 applications of chemical was required to kill the burr, but the side effect of using a knapsack sprayer on other vegetation was unacceptable. There was some suggestion that after treatment and die-off the open bare area(s) were vulnerable to erosion during the winter months.

The conclusion was that although we had established that, at the time, the only herbicide then available, 2-4-5T would control this vigorous woody plant. (For those with long memories may recall 2-3-5T was the base chemical for Agent Orange used in Vietnam,) We were concerned that careless application would have a serious impact on the other more specialised rare dune vegetation, as well as cost an arm and a leg so the project was put on hold.

So for now it looks like we have to live with that "bloody burr" and the considerable nuisance it causes to people and pets who walk in the dunes.

If you are biosecurity concerned and have contaminated clothing, bag it and burn it when you get home, there is no way to remove all of the seeds you are carrying on your clothing and they will spread.

If you have a dog with fur matted with Acaena seed, it will be a long hard task that could take several days to remove the contamination and its likely seed will be spread.

David O'


Crypt Open Days for the Feast of St. Aidan

Saturday 31st August is the feast day of St. Aidan, the gentle inspirational monk who, in 635AD, together with St Oswald brought Christianity to northern England. In celebration of his feast day, the Bamburgh Bones team will be hosting two open days of the Crypt of St.Aidan's [ Bamburgh! ]on Thursday 28th and Saturday 31st August, 11.00am - 2.00pm.

The open days will be a chance to visit the beautiful 12th Century crypt below the chancel of St Aidan's church before the new interpretation and access are installed. The open days also presents the opportunity to learn more about the Heritage Grant funded Bamburgh Bones project and find out about a variety of volunteering opportunities. Guides will be on hand to explain the amazing Anglo-Saxon heritage of Bamburgh and the lives of the 110 individuals now laid to rest in ossuary boxes in the second crypt, as well as explore some of the colourful characters interred in the main crypt.

Entry is free and via an external staircase at the north end of the church.

Media Contact:
Catherine Gray
Tel. 01670 622644

FROM FORD & ETAL Elspeth Gilliland

Etal Show - Sunday 1st September

Taking place on Etal Showground, this annual event is now in its 83rd year.  A wide range of horticultural, craft and children's classes, food and craft stalls, children's entertainment, beer tent and a range of attractions on the show field including archery, vintage vehicles, live music and more promise to make this a great day out.  Gates open 12 noon.  Admission £4.00, children and parking free.

Etal Live Music: "Union Jill"   - 7th September

Sharon Winfield and Helen Turner, from York, are singers, instrumentalists and songwriters showcasing a variety of strong songs in an upbeat style. Playing their own material, they've established an appealing stage presence and gathered an ever-growing fan base across the UK. They mix traditional folk instrumentation (guitars, mandola, concertina) with an edgy contemporary feel and powerful vocal delivery. Their material embraces historical themes and contemporary issues; personal experiences and protest songs. They have an on-stage banter that you only get from two women sharing a stage. 
Doors open 7.30pm, music begins at 8.00pm.  Bar on site.  For more information or to buy tickets in advance contact Steve or Helen on 0181

Flour Festival, Heatherslaw Cornmill - 22nd September

Following the success of last year's Flour Festival, the event will be repeated this year.  Admission to the Mill is free and there are free activities for children including baking at 2.00 and 3.30pm.

There will be hands-on activities, milling demonstrations and competitions.  There is also an adults' breadmaking workshop (10am-1pm) followed by a light lunch.  Cost is £25.00 per person and places are limited so please book in advance by contacting

Details of all the above can be found at


Seven members of the Community of Aidan and Hilda were among the speakers at The Celtic Summer School held in Durham in early August.

Ken McIntosh, from USA, first led an Open Gate retreat on 'Fresh Water from an Ancient Well'.  He new book is entitled Reading the Bible the Celtic Way: the Peacock's Tail Feathers. This comes from Scotus Eriguena, who taught that there are as many ways to read the Bible as there are colours in a peacock's feathers: instead of using the Bible to put everything in boxes we should use it to open windows.

Venues included three churches and the cathedral for a concert by Iona the band, led by Dave Bainbridge, who has the bench on the Heugh dedicated to his late sister Mo.  Holy Island residents who took part included Mary Fleason who  led an art workshop, and Andy and Anna Raine for an evening of interview and songs.

Graham Booth came from the Shetlands to talk about Soul friends, and our academic advisor, Professor Ian Bradley, of St. Andrews' University, gave a roller coaster of researches into the Celtic Christian tradition.  David Cole, a regular Open Gate retreat leader, has become our first monk, and spoke in his green habit about meditation and silence. He will lead a retreat at The Open Gate September  16-20 on Befriending Silence. Greg Valerio runs a farm in Sussex with a group named Saint Columba Society, and challenged us to work the land with respect for creation.

A cathedral canon welcomed us with a reading from Bede about Saint Hilda recognizing the gift of song given to the illiterate cowherd Caedmon.  We were encouraged to release the songs locked in every human heart.


FROM OUR CHURCHES Rev Canon Dr Sarah Hills & Rev Rachel Poolman

Dear Friends

We hope you have all had a good summer so far - whether you have been able to have a holiday or have been working hard on the Island , or trying to predict what the weather was going to do next.

For all the Island churches it has been a busy time of welcoming pilgrims and visitors; these encounters are a constant reminder of our shared Christian faith and purpose. As the 2 full time resident ministers on Holy Island we each have a calling to offer pastoral support and a listening ear to all those who seek it, whether they are residents or visitors, and whatever their understanding of religion.

Since Sarah's arrival, the two of us have increasingly enjoyed working together and are aware of the many ways in which our roles complement each other. One of the early outcomes of this was our shared worship on St Cuthbert's Day back in March, and also the different services we were able to offer during Holy Week and Easter.  Since then, we have set up 'Prayers for Peace' - a shared service every Thursday in St Mary's at 5.30pm. Many visitors have commented how refreshing it is to see the different traditions working together.

You may also have heard the Radio 4 Sunday Worship broadcast from Holy island on August 18th  - if not it is available to listen again via the BBC website ! This was a wonderful opportunity for those involved in the Church of England and the United Reformed Church here on the Island to reflect to a huge audience that we are all God's children and called by God to be one.

We are also both conscious that St Cuthbert's and St Mary's and their congregations have played an important part in the life of the Island and that we are building on a long history here of cooperation and mutual support.

As we come towards the end of the summer season we will be reflecting more on ways to build on this relationship.    From next month in this publication we plan to alternate writing this opening letter whilst continuing to keep everyone informed of activities at both churches.

Each church has a facebook page and a website where you can get a flavour of what goes on and how we interact with people locally and around the world.  We would also be very pleased to hear your ideas about what you would like to see the churches contributing to life on the island. Do be in touch!

Sarah Hills
StMary's Church
01289 389216
Rachel Poolman
St Cuthbert's Centre (UnitedReformed Church)

'Be still and know that I am God' (Psalm 46 v 10)
From the expansiveness of the skies
to the feathers of the sparrow
from the rhythm of the waves
to the falling of the leaves
from the undulating horizon
to the journey of the sands
the Spirit calls us
to observe
the constancy of change
the intricacies of creation
the complexities of life
to be
at one with ourselves
with all that is around us
and with the Divine
to inhabit
where clamour is calmed
questions paused
souls are fed
to become
at home
with change
with rebirth
and with hope

Rachel Poolman

Food Bank

A reminder that there is a collection point for the Berwick Food Bank in the porch at St Cuthbert's Centre.  The summer holidays have put a financial strain on families whose children usually receive free school meals, and the start of term means finding money for uniform etc..

The food bank is currently particularly asking for donations of adults and childrens toiletries,  tinned meat and tinned vegetables.  They also try to keep a stock of cat and dog food.  All donations are welcomed !


  Pattern of worship for Sundays
8am    Holy Communion (BCP) 
10.45am    Parish Eucharist 
5.30pm    Evensong
Pattern of worship (Monday - Saturday)
   8 am Morning Prayer Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
   8 am Eucharist Wednesday and Friday
   5.30 pm Evening Prayer every day

please check notice board in church porch in the event of revision