24 November 2009

Lindisfarne Causeway

This is the last in a series of short posts about our trip to Lindisfarne, just across the border in England. You can find the other posts here and here.

For almost half of every day, the road above is under water.

That's because Lindisfarne is a tidal island, meaning that when the tide is low, the island is actually connected to the mainland. The causeway floods twice a day, so visitors and residents need to plan around the tide tables so as not to get stuck on the wrong side overnight--or, worse, on the causeway itself with the tide coming in.

So the tide is a pretty big deal on Lindisfarne. The tide tables are posted all over the island beneath signs like the ones below.


When motorists are stranded on the causeway with the tide coming in, they have to ditch their cars and swim/wade to one of the refuge boxes along the road, which are basically just sheds on top of big poles. There they wait for a helicopter to airlift them out.

Many of the local shops also had bulletin boards covered with newspaper clippings about recent rescues, usually described in a tone of mild disgust ("Look at these silly tourists driving up our council taxes"). In recent years, the local authorities have begun billing folks who are careless enough to get themselves stranded.

Though sometimes, apparently, it's not carelessness, as there is a certain set that likes racing the tide for fun.

It's also possible to walk across the tidal flats on the Pilgrim's Way, a marked path from the mainland to the Priory.

In any case, driving back at dusk just after the tide had retreated was a nice treat.


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