* The Community of Aidan and Hilda has retreat accommodation, group training opportunities, a library with access on request, a resource room where prayers are led at 12.00 and 9.00 pm on week-days. Everyone is welcome.

 * Ray Simpson is happy to come over to meet with pilgrims who contact him in advance - tel 01289 306771. <>

* The Library has a fine stock of books on Celtic spirituality, saints, desert fathers and mothers, pilgrimage soul friendship and a new monastic Way of Life. It is open (via a coded lock) most days until 6.0 pm.

* Faith and Scott Brennan have oversight of the Community's Holy Island  work and live at Whitehouse,Fenkle Street.  Scott runs a popular Facebook page,

* There is a full list of all the accommodation available on Holy Island on this website, See the Christian Retreat section of this website. Groups may book High Rigg. St. Cuthbert's Centre lets its Bothy.  Marygate House has rooms.

*  We have a one bed flat at Starbank Cottage and a large three bedroom house, High Rigg  (scroll down each page to see the availability calendar).

Community of Aidan and Hilda on Holy Island v16.pdf


Lindisfarne is a tidal island and pilgrimage centre off the north east coast of England, near the border with Scotland. It has a strong fishing community, two farms, a school (linked to Lowick school on the mainland) and a large pilgrimage presence. It is known as The Cradle of Christianity to English speaking people. This is because Saint Aidan brought the Irish Mission to the English in 635 and made Lindisfarne his base. Here he established perhaps the first school of English (Anglo-Saxon) boys.  This Irish monk laid down his life to bring the Gospel to a foreign people and to establish an indigeneous English church.  On the night of his death in 651 a teenage Anglo Saxon named Cuthbert saw a vision of  Aidan being escorted to heaven. Cuthbert became a great leader of the English church, prior and lastly Bishop of Lindisfarne. After his death the famous Lindisfarne Gospels were dedicated to him, his body remained uncorrupt,  miracles occurred at his shrine, multitudes came to it, which is why Alcuin wrote that Lindisfarne was 'the most holy place in England' and a king declared it should be known as Holy Island.

In 793 Lindisfarne became the first place to be destroyed by Viking invasions. Cuthbert's shrine ended up at Durham Cathedral, and the Benedictine Community there built a daughter priory on Lindisfarne about 1150, the remains of which are maintained by English Heritage, as is the priory museum.

After centuries of hard times the island became a fishing and farming community. Today there are  more than a dozen fishermen,  two farms, three hotels, cafe's, shops and self-catering  accommodation and about 140 residents. Holy Island Development Trust has built affordable housing for islanders to rent and in partnership with others is pioneering new projects, including harbour improvements and an educational bird hyde. Lindisfarne and the surounding coastal area  is a nature reserve, maintained by Natural England; many species of bird visit it and it has some rare wild flowers in the dunes. You can walk round the main part of the island in two hours. Lindisfarne marks the end of the 63 mile St. Cuthbert's Way walk from Melrose.

With the advent of the motor car and a five mile tarmacked causeway  visitors greatly increased. (A bus service now provides a daily service between the mainland and the island. Between May and the end of October, The Lindisfarne Hopper, runs between Haggerstone Castle holiday park, connecting with the North & South Arriva services at Beal. Timetables can be found either on Woody's Taxis facebook page or here.) Over the last fifty years  it has strongly revived as a place of pilgrimage. The following have contributed to this revival: the introduction of three daily services at St. Mary's Parish Church (which is on the site of Aidan's original monastery), the popular books of prayers by David Adam,  its former vicar, the establishment of Marygate House as a retreat house, the modernisation of Saint Aidan's Roman Catholic Church, the transformation of the former United Reformed Church into St. Cuthbert's Visitors Centre, the opening of the Lindisfarne Centre with  its digital Lindisfarne Gospels, Mary Fleeson's contemporary Lindisfarne Scriptorium, the Holy Island web sites and The Community of Aidan and Hilda..

Fifteen Things for Pilgrims to Do on Holy Island

1.      Walk the pilgrim posts from the bridge to the island, ideally in bare feet.  Reflect on ‘excess baggage’ you need to leave behind and on what the Risen Jesus beckons you to.


2.      Say a  prayer:  ‘Here be the peace of water lapping shore: Here be the peace of praise by night and day; Here be the peace of those who do your will; Here be the peace of those who walk your way.’


3.      Keep a journal of things you run away from or that make you angry; your deepest longings, or ingredients for a healthy diet of body, mind and spirit.


4.      Figure out the St. Aidan sculpture in the churchyard: the staff signifies a shepherd’s faithfulness; the torch a passion to pass on the faith, the cross an encircling shield at one’s back.  Write a prayer.


5.      Get into the rhythm of the tides: ‘Ebb tide, full tide, let life’s rhythms flow. Full tide, ebb tide, how life’s beat much go’ (David Adam).


6.      Observe the skies, the wild flowers, the birds and the seals. Explore the dunes.


7.      Visit Cuthbert’s Isle at low tide. Storm heaven’s gates in the spirit of Saint Cuthbert.


8.      Visit the Lindisfarne Gospels Garden, the next door Community of Aidan and Hilda library, prayer, meeting and reading room (with its large Norway Cross) and book shop at the top of Marygate and attend midday and night prayer.


9.      Visit the Lindisfarne Centre with its digital entry into the treasures of the Lindisfarne Gospels, and then Lindisfarne Scriptorium.


10.   Visit St. Mary’s Church (on the original foundation of Saint Aidan’s wooden church), St. Aidan’s RC Church and St. Cuthbert’s Centre


11.   Visit the Priory Museum’s presentation of how Christianity came to Northumbria and Lindisfarne became the Cradle of Christianity. A ticket gives you entrance to the 12th c  Benedictine priory.


12.   Walk round the island to the white Trinity beacon and to Sandham Bay where the Vikings landed. Lie on the beach, listen to the grey seals and to God’s voice.


13.   Enter the Bird Hyde (with AVA) on the left en route to the castle. Enter the Bird Hyde on the left of the path from the castle to the white beacon.


14.   Whether you visit the castle or not, don’t miss the Gertrude Jekyll walled garden opposite it.


15.   Go the Heugh (the cliff ridge that leads from Cuthbert’s Isle to the harbour). Ask directions and use the ‘prayer holes’ if you are agile.  Go up the Watch Tower.  Now Look across to Bamburgh Castle. In a little cell church beside this Aidan was escorted by many angels to heaven on August 31 651, standing against a buttress. The sight of these angels accompanying a holy person inspired Cuthbert to give life service to God. A schoolboy was asked why there were so many angels. He replied ‘So many things pull us down: we need an angel to pull us up for each one’. ‘Having done all, stand’ (Ephesians 6:13).




Retreats etc




Click link below:

Retreat List 2022 v2.docx 

Community of Aidan and Hilda on Holy Island v16.pdf

Microsoft Word - Give yourself a retreat (

 Location of Prayer Room, Library and Starbank Cottage:,-1.8028738,18.52z/data=!4m14!1m7!3m6!1s0x48874d5447a7588b:0xf2c5d7a289c450d4!2sStarbank+Cottage!8m2!3d55.6712623!4d-1.8024665!16s%2Fg%2F11t2cxlhjw!3m5!1s0x48874d5447a7588b:0xf2c5d7a289c450d4!8m2!3d55.6712623!4d-1.8024665!16s%2Fg%2F11t2cxlhjw

Conference  venues:

Holy Island Village Hall:  Contact: David O'Connor <> or :

St. Cuthbert's Centre


 See links below and Downloads


 and see


  John Tierney has a vocation to paint Holy Island pictures in oils

Lindisfarne castle:


Tide times:

An example of a holiday cottage advert with great pictures:

Wider pilgrim links:  The Queen's visit to Holy Island

REEP Pilgrimage - Ray Simpson Interview 


Pilgrim WalksPilgrims labyrinth on Lindisfarne beach

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne Pilgrim Guide leaflet is available at The Open Gate, The Lindisfarne Scriptorium and elsewhere.

The Lindisfarne Centre has guides on nature and local interest walks.

24/7 Prayer on Holy Island - see Download.                           

           Pilgrims Labyrinth on Lindisfarne Beach

Pilgrimage Walks

St. Aidan's Way ' Aberlady to Lindisfarne  See leaflet and info from

St. Cuthbert's Way - Melrose to Lindisfarne  63 miles. See Downloads 'St. Cuthbert's Way Pilgrim Prayers Menu';

 St. Oswalds's Way - Lindisfarne to Heavenfield   See


Forth to Farne Way a 72 mile walk from North Berwick to Lindisfarne or




 See Pilgrimage section for further information

One Tapestry: many strands

  Scholars detect strands of art in the Lindisfarne Gospels that come from many sources: Byzantine, Coptic, Irish, Oriental, Mediterranean, Pictish, Roman and Saxon.

  Still today visitors from many parts are drawn to connect with a particular strand that makes up the tapestry of Lindisfarne. These include:

• Birds or nature

• Day out by the sea

• Pilgrim walks and prayer

• Priory and Benedictine period

• Some secular enthusiasts say that the island is holy in name but not in nature, and has been secular since the dissolution of the priory at the Reformation.

• Others seek to re- connect today with the ethos of the earlier period of Aidan and Cuthbert, with its humility and service, rhythm and community.


Useful books:

Story of Holy Island by Kate Tristram, Canterbury Press

A Holy Island Prayer Book by Ray Simpson published by Morehouse (USA) and Canterbury Press (UK).

Lindisfarne: the Cradle Island by Magnus Magnusson published by Tempus Publishing Ltd

Give Yourself a Holy Island Retreat by Ray Simpson available from St. Aidan Press. St. Aidan Press is an imprint of the interntional Community of Aidan and Hilda

Holy Island of Lindisfarne by David Adam, SPCK.

Embracing Change: Spirituality and the Lindisfarne Gospels by Ewan Clayton. Photographs by Robert Cooper.

The Lindisfarne Gospels: The English Church and our Multi-cultural World: Liturgies and Resources by Ray Simpson

The Community of Aidan and Hilda’s Celtic Library next to the Gospels Garden is available for use by students who book through The Community Website.

 Speakers to Pilgrim Groups 

Various people do this including Revd Ray Simpson who may also be able to offer spiritual direction to guests and pilgrims.


a prayer...
The Cross upon you to free you from sin The cross above you heaven to win. The cross around you to make you complete The Cross beneath you to earth your feet. The Cross beyond you to stretch your heart The Cross within you, Christ to impart.
Taken from
Shalom!: Celtic Prayers for Wholeness and Healing
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