Lindisfarne Castle in the mists, for post on getting to Holy Island by public transport

Getting to Holy Island (Lindisfarne) by public transport

Ever since we moved here in 2017, one of the most common questions we are asked is how to get to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne if you don’t have a car and want to use public transport. The answer is that trains and buses are not the easiest option, but with a little perseverance and careful planning around tide times, you can certainly make it.

How to get to Holy Island by train (via Berwick)

I’ll start with how to get to Berwick-upon-Tweed, and then how to get from there to Holy Island.

There used to be a train station just across from Holy Island in Beal, but unfortunately it closed in 1968 (apparently, not because of Dr Beeching). A campaign to re-open Beal Station has been running since 2016 by the South East Northumberland Rail User Group, but that’s not much use to you just now, except that you are welcome to support them.

The nearest train station to Holy Island is Berwick-upon-Tweed, which is easily accessible from London Kings Cross (3h35m), Edinburgh Waverley (45m), Newcastle (45m), and all stations in between on LNER (previously Virgin East Coast).

If you are coming from the North-West, you can get from Manchester to Holy Island in about 3.30 – 4 hours (with changes). The best route seems to be Manchester Piccadilly to Leeds or York  and then from there to Berwick-upon-Tweed (see below on how to proceed from Berwick).

Before booking your train, always check the tide times for Holy Island’s causeway, and give yourself ample time to get here before the road disappears under the waves of the North Sea. It takes about 30 minutes drive to get from Berwick station to Holy Island, and you might want to plan for an earlier train, to account for train and road delays. If you miss the crossing time, you’ll have to grab a drink on the other side of the causeway and wait for the water to recede. For information on crossing the Holy Island Causeway, see my previous post. When the tide is here, crossing is not an option.

Buses from London and elsewhere to Berwick

I thought I’d add this option too, for those willing to travel for hours on a coach. Times quoted are as they are at the time of writing, so check for changes. National Express run daily services from London Victoria to Berwick-upon-Tweed. They operate a day service that leaves London at 8am (arriving 5.25pm, about nine hours later) and a night service that leaves at 10.30pm (arriving at 6.40am, about eight hours). Return services from Berwick to London leave at 10.40pm and 11.20am. Prices can be very competitive (e.g. £12 one way), if booked in advance.

There are also buses from/to Edinburgh and Newcastle, and if you really have time on your hands, you can change to those from any National Express destination, for example: Manchester-Newcastle-Berwick (6 hours)

National Express Bus Stop locations in Berwick**

Towards Newcastle and London:
Golden Square, The Coffee Shop.

Towards Edinburgh:
Golden Square, The Leaping Salmon pub

** Correct at the time of writing, please check before you travel.

Getting from Berwick station to Holy Island

Once in Berwick, you have four options (or three options and a bit, as you’ll see below) – but in low season these options narrow considerably:

477 bus to Holy Island

If you wait for a bus to Holy Island without planning, you’ll be waiting a long time, sometimes days.

Borders Buses runs the bus service from Berwick station to Holy Island (it was previously operated by Perryman’s, so you might hear reference to the Perryman’s bus). As you would expect, their timetable is dictated by the tides, and varies from day to day. In winter there are hardly any services, and those operate (some) Saturdays and (some) Wednesdays. In summer they are a little more frequent, but you’d have to plan carefully, as it is not really a viable option unless you plan for an exactly timed bus. For the latest timetables see the 477 schedule on their website.

The cost of a one-way trip Holy-Island/Berwick is £2 (April 2024). You can pay by contactless.

Warning: We’ve heard of at least two cases of people who took a bus from Berwick or Newcastle to the junction on the the A1 that leads to Island with the intention of catching the 477 bus at the stop there. Unfortunately the bus did not stop (either because it was full, or because… well… it just didn’t). Because 477s are so infrequent, their only option was to walk to the Island, which is a very long way.

Taxi services from Berwick to Holy Island

People seem to shy away from using taxis, but actually they are a great option, and the ones that we have used to date (1st Cab, tel. 01289 545007 and Woody’s, tel. 01289 547009) have been very good at showing up on time and taking account of train and tide times, both for meeting you off the train and for pickups from Holy Island. A one-way trip in March 2024 was about £33-£40, depending on the time of day/day of the week.

Local car hire

Unforunately there are no longer any rental companies in Berwick. The local car hire company, East Coast Rental, has ceased trading. Enterprise Car Club has a vehicle at Berwick station, but from what we’ve heard they have very little availability.

By Air to Holy Island

A slightly misleading headline. You can’t actually fly here, but if you are planning a trip from further afield, for example London, and the train prices make your eyes water, it’s always good to check if you could get a cheaper deal flying to Newcastle or Edinburgh airports, and then making your way by train from there to Berwick. Edinburgh airport does not have a train station, and you’ll have to take a tram or a bus to get to one. Newcastle is connected to the rail station by Metro.

Both airports have car hire facilities. The car journey from Newcastle is quicker and takes just over an hour (see route). From Edinburgh it takes about 1h40m (see route).

With check-in, waiting and transfers, flying into either of the above airports will not usually make your journey shorter than a train, but sometimes costs less.

And don’t forget to check the tide times for the Holy Island causeway, and read my tips on how to cross it safely.

Finally, if you’re looking to stay on Holy Island when everyone else has to leave (highly recommended)

You can book a luxury studio with kitchenette or a budget ‘no frills’ twin room on Holy Island itself here. High standard, and enthusiastically recommended on TripAdvisor.

Looking to stay ‘On Island’?

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on Holy Island

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