Tuesday 14th March 2023
I left you on my journey by bus from Newcastle to Edinburgh in the border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed having travelled there on Arriva’s scenic route X18.
Before continuing on my way to Edinburgh I wanted to take a ride on route 477 operated by Borders Buses which uniquely runs between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Holy Island famed for its timetable which varies according to tide times as the causeway to the Island is only available for crossing at low tide.
Route 477 is a Wednesday and Saturday only operation with one outward journey from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Holy Island and straight back again in the morning and another later on in the day to take islanders back home from Berwick and bring day visitors back to the mainland.
You have to refer to the tide timetable to select which of the three morning and four afternoon options the bus is running to each week.
As you can see it’s a 35 minute journey, mostly down the A1 before turning on to the unclassified road to the island near Haggerston.
I travelled on the first Saturday in February when the tide was in from late morning into the afternoon so the outward journey (B) left Berwick-upon-Tweed at 10:30 arriving on the island at 11:05 and back to Berwick-upon-Tweed for 11:40. There’s a timetable displayed at the terminus outside Berwick-upon-Tweed railway station and luckily the muck on the protective glass wasn’t blocking out that day’s schedule – it would have been a different matter if I’d needed confirmation of the times over the following few weeks.
Last time I made the Holy Island trip (way back in 2013) it was in the summer and I spent an enjoyable day exploring the Island but this time the return journey wasn’t until 18:30 from Holy Island (G) so with light fading around 17:00 I decided to forgo staying this time and come straight back on the 11:40.
Another passenger boarding at Berwick-upon-Tweed railway station with me, on hearing about the late return journey decided not to travel that day and wait for a more weather friendly time slot which would have been a week later when the journey back left at 15:05 (with the morning departure from Bewick-upon-Tweed earlier at 09:05).
We did take a passenger from Berwick-upon-Tweed just making a local journey home in the town but otherwise it was just me on board across to the island.
We soon made it down the A1 to the turn off to Beal and Holy Island…
… although we had to cross the East Coast Main Line first …
… and then along the road towards the Island as anticipation and excitement mounts for the journey across the causeway with the Island coming into view….
… and warning signs of the danger ahead.
There were quite a few cyclists also making the journey…
… as we reached another warning sign…
… and the safe structure for any pedestrians or motorists who ignore the warning signs and get trapped as the tide comes in (which happens despite all the warnings).
Then it’s across the mile and a half long causeway …
…with spectacular views either side of the coastline.
Although there’s no layover time scheduled at the Holy Island terminus, we’d arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule so the driver parked up until it was time to return.
This gave me time to spot departure times from last summer on display which showed that local company Travelsure also ran to the Island last year….
…. as well as Woody’s Taxis with the former connecting with its route 418 at Belford.
There’s a small community living on the Island…
… with facilities including a shop and Post Office.
The Island thrives on tourists and if you have longer to explore obviously it’s a must to go and visit Lindisfarne Priory …
…. which even had a shuttle minibus to it when I was last on the Island ten years ago.
This visit it was soon time for my return journey …
… and as we passed back over the causeway….
…. there was a passenger waiting for us on the mainland side who travelled back to Berwick-upon-Tweed station.
After that interlude it was time for me to head north and catch another Borders Bus service, this time onward to Edinburgh. I’ll tell you about that journey in Part 3 coming soon.
Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThS
Glad you had time for a quick trip over on one of the quirkier bus services in the UK. Despite the fleetnames being wrong, it looks a well-turned out Solo and ideal for that service. I last did the 477 in c.2010 and it was a rather tired Optare Delta that was doing the honours (for Travelsure) and showed all of its 16/17 years!
For many years, United would show the 477 timetable and the connections at Beal from/to the main services from Newcastle/Morpeth/Alnwick. Sadly, that has fallen by the wayside
Pleased to see that you had a dry day for your trip across to Holy Island. The photo shown is not the Castle but Lindisfarne Priory. The Castle is outside the village, hence the Shuttle. There are at least two pubs as well as cafes and the Lindisfarne Mead distillery. The Church is worth a visit as well.
Many of Northumberland’s Berwick area timetable cases need a good clean or a bit of tlc At least the 477 display shown is current until the end of April.
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Many thanks for the correction (now updated) and extra info.
As far as I know only Woodies (from Haggeston),Travelsure (from Belford) and Borders Buses (from Berwick)serve Holy Island and the Castle internal island bus is run by Woodies? Another good way is to walk from Beal using Arriva NE.The road causeway isn’t very safe for people on foot due to traffic but either side the sand is firm and on the south side the path goes to the village and the north side to the Snooks.It goes without saying check the tide table first and set out as the tide is going down and don’t try it when it’s coming up!
I throughly enjoyed reading your account. While l have done the journey by bus from Newcastle to Beal and got the connection bus there on its way from Berwick Upon Tweed to Holy Island, l have also done the trip by train from Newcastle Central to Berwick Upon Tweed and thence by bus to Lindisfarne. But of the choices l recommend the train and bus combination because one can spend longer on the island.
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Last summer, when we stayed on the Island, there was a daily service to/from Berwick, reasonably well used it seemed – the driver at Berwick, on our way back to the Island, warned us that it would be the last bus back. Also a regular internal Travelsure service to the castle and car parks together with another service towards Alnwick. Covid had an effect on the viability of the shop so very limited provisions and the Inns suffered from a shortage of chefs!
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There is an ‘official’ route across the sands for walkers – The Saints Way, part of St Cuthberts Way from Melrose to Lindisfarne.