Causeway proposals voiced by farmer

The scene of the incident after holidaymaker Lavinia Edwards and her husband Keith became stranded on Holy Island Causeway earlier this month. Picture by Steve Miller
The scene of the incident after holidaymaker Lavinia Edwards and her husband Keith became stranded on Holy Island Causeway earlier this month. Picture by Steve Miller

A farmer who has been called out to assist with numerous rescues around Holy Island Causeway believes more could be done to stop people from crossing the notorious stretch at high tide.

The much-discussed subject has been in the spotlight again recently following two incidents of people being caught out by the rising waters in less than a month.

Last week, the Gazette reported how holidaymaker Lavinia Edwards, from Cambridgeshire, had called for barriers to be installed after she and her husband were trapped along the crossing at the beginning of May. It came after two Swiss tourists had to be rescued on April 9.

Our article prompted Rod Smith, who farms right next to the causeway at Beal Farm, to contact the Gazette with a number of suggestions which he thinks could help – but he agreed with the view shared by many islanders that barriers are not the option.

He said: “A lot of people have said the number of incidents have reduced since the visual displays (which contain crossing information and urge people to check the tide times) went up; they have to a degree, but they haven’t reduced quite as much because there are quite a few incidents that aren’t recorded – some get stuck on the north shore and ask me for assistance.

“I agree with the islanders about not having barriers, but a possible count-down until the tide comes in on a visual display may help tourists on the island.

“I know the tide times vary a little, but there is no reason why it couldn’t be updated weekly or daily. You could put the sign in the car park saying this is how long you have got until the tide comes in.

“I know it is pie in the sky, but a park-and-ride scheme to get visitors on and off at the correct time could be a helpful solution. ”

In the incident involving Mrs Edwards, multiple fire engines, the search-and-rescue helicopter, the RNLI and Coastguard were all called to the scene.

Mr Smith, who has been at Beal Farm since the 1970s, said: “It is the cost impact that we are concerned about – who is bearing the cost for the call-outs, because it soon adds up.”