Chilly and wide

Chilly and wide…

…is how the Jordan river is described in one verse of the old spiritual.  This week it was certainly true of the liminal space between the Northumbrian coast and the tiny Holy Island of Lindisfarne.  Andrew and I made a quick dash just across the border to walk again the pilgrimage route which I use for MWiB walking pilgrimages.  We covered the 30 miles up the coast in two days instead of three, experiencing incredibly strong winds as Storm Henry hit. 20160201_085600 Right from the start, on Alnmouth beach, we found ourselves buffeted around and ski goggles would not have come amiss to protect our eyes from the blowing sand.  Ample reward came, however, in the stunning light conditions and the dramatic spray all along that beautiful stretch of coast (of course despite over 100 photos, the best of the spume always escaped my lens!)

On Tuesday we were due to make the crossing and had convinced ourselves that temperature and wind speed being what they were, the only sensible option was to walk along the tarmac causeway, not the Pilgrim Path following poles across the wet sand… However (as I suppose we both really knew we would) when we arrived at that point we found it impossible to resist the pull of the poles, stripped off our boots and socks, tying them securely to our packs, rolled up our trousers and set off.  With MWiB groups, I allow 90 minutes for the crossing – on Tuesday we made it in 40!  DSC01248With the wind squarely behind us we were forced to run at times – not that we wanted to linger in the freezing water!  It was (literally) a breathtaking experience, 40 minutes which seemed to belong to a different life all together.  Andrew felt that we were crossing into another world – I hoped getting into heaven isn’t going to be quite like that!  The words of the King’s College Christmas prayer which mean so much to me certainly seemed appropriate though and we did indeed remember those “on another shore and in a greater light” as we ran, laughed, shivered and exulted.  The thick, black, smelly, slimy mud in the middle of the crossing was not as bad as I have known it, but I still managed to go in up to my knee at one point and had to shout (louder than the wind) for Andrew to come and pull me out… (he did).

DSC01280As ever, Lindisfarne provided a haven of rest and renewal.  On one of the sunniest days they have had for months (apparently) we were blessed to explore some of the less-well-known parts of the shore (the interior being very water-logged) and shared our ignorance, but delight, at the many varieties of birds wading, flying and calling all around.  We returned to Glasgow today, thankful and refreshed.  Jill

PS Tim later emailed me with these wonderful words from the end of J. R .R. Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings”, which seem to fit so well… Sam and Frodo have travelled to the Grey Havens, from where Frodo departs across the water into the west, leaving Sam to carry on with his life…

“And the ship went out into the high sea and passed on into the West…and then it seemed to Frodo that…the grey rain curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise…”


St. Cuthbert's Island

St. Cuthbert’s Island



7 thoughts on “Chilly and wide

  1. Breathtaking views and words which remind me of the wild beauty of Lindisfarne. It is indeed a thin place where God is so tangible His presence draws one back again.

    Liked by 1 person

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