After a 3am start from our overnight stop at Fuffy’s near the Malvern Hills, we arrived in time to cross the causeway between tides to the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne. Sunny and warm in the shelter of a walled garden but close to the sea and away from the shelter of the village houses, the biting breeze makes a bearable 7°C feel more like -7°C. Pleased Tommy still has some of his winter coat left. He is happily munching away in a pretty green paddock surrounded by sheep down the windy – or is that windy – ‘long’n’ lane and away from the madding crowd whist I am tucked away in a retreat centre in the village where there is a room dedicated for socialising and talking and a library for silent contemplation, with an old stable in which to store our tack.
Having safely deposited us at our destinations, I say a fond farewell to Ed who has calmly and smoothly conveyed Tommy and myself all the way up here with care and consideration driving ‘according to the conditions of the road’, as he puts it, as well as tolerating my nervous excitement whilst sharing his cab cum office space. He heads off back over the long stretch of causeway together with all the Bank Holiday visitors before the incoming tide cuts them off. There is a peace that descends over the island as it is once more left to its residents of which Tommy and I are one and I am feeling privileged to be part of this pilgrim retreat community for a few short days. Tommy to get his land legs back after a total of nearly 14 hours on the road and me to mentally prepare for the long journey ahead. And boy, what a long journey it is! Having just driven the length of the country, the realisation is dawning just what a daunting task I have set for us.