New poles installed to show walkers the way

Contractors installing new poles on Holy Island causeway. Picture by Chris Pawson.
Contractors installing new poles on Holy Island causeway. Picture by Chris Pawson.

The iconic line of poles marking the walking route to Holy Island have been in place for decades, but recently some of them had gone missing or become loose.

So, as part of the Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership Scheme, the missing poles have now been replaced along Pilgrim’s Way.

Local fencing contractor Eddie Furnace said: “This is one of the more unusual jobs we’ve been asked to do and it wasn’t without its challenges.

“As well as the typical January weather, the poles sit in a mixture of mud and sand which is very wet and the holes for the replacement poles were filling up as quickly as we dug them. The boggy conditions also meant that we had to carry the poles in by hand as the quad-bike would’ve got stuck.

“The whole area is really important for birds and is designated as a National Nature Reserve so we had to work closely with the reserve staff to make sure the birds weren’t unduly disturbed.

“The replacements are rough larch poles from a local woodland so they look like the existing poles and should last a long time.”

The Peregrini scheme is funded by players of the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Brenda Stanton, chairman of the Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape Partnership, said: “More and more people are walking the Pilgrim’s Way. A new seat will be soon installed on the island, at the end of the Pilgrim’s Way.”

Ever since 635, when King Oswald gave the Holy Island of Lindisfarne to St Aidan to establish his monastery, the island has been a place of pilgrimage. The road along the causeway connecting the mainland and the island was not built until 1954. Until then, the vertical poles were the only indicators of the safe route.

Ivor Crowther, of HLF North East, said: “The sight of the poles is one of the most iconic views in Northumberland and to walk the route and follow in the footsteps of our medieval ancestors is a wonderful experience.”