The Inspector stays in an inn on the beautiful island of Lindisfarne

The Inspector calls at an ‘unfussy’ inn on the beautiful Northumberland isle of Lindisfarne… where rooms are a ‘throwback to gentler times’ and Holy Island beer is on tap

  • The Inspector tucks into a ‘massive’ breakfast at The Ship on Holy Island
  • His room is neat and tidy with floral wallpaper and pictures of seagulls 
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There’s a notice stuck to my bathroom window at The Ship on Holy Island off the Northumberland coast. ‘Please try not to open the window at the moment. We are being inundated with small black flies.’

In the height of winter? I doubt it. 

The black flies — along with some 600,000 tourists who flock here in summer — surely have long departed, leaving Lindisfarne (as it’s also known) to its own quiet devices.

Except that just recently there has been a lot of noise about a government proposal to ban fishing off Holy Island on marine environmental grounds. This would have destroyed the island as a living community — but, thankfully, Defra, has backed down.

The campaign in support of the fishermen was run by the island’s vicar, the Reverend Sarah Hills, who pops in to The Ship for ‘just the one’ during my visit. She’s a terrific advert for the ailing Church of England.

The Inspector calls at The Ship Inn on Holy Island – also known as Lindisfarne – off the Northumberland coast

The inn is run by Paul on behalf of a new owner. Paul has been living on the island for yonks and likes to chat. 

He tells me that ten years ago, a production company wanted to inspect the rooms with a view to Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman staying while filming The Railway Man.

‘I said there’s nothing wrong with the rooms,’ recalls Paul. And, that’s about right. There are four of them. 

Mine is neat and tidy with floral wallpaper and pictures of seagulls. It’s a throwback to gentler times —but, then, Holy Island is one of those places where the past informs the present.

Above is a bird’s eye view of Lindisfarne. ‘Holy Island is one of those places where the past informs the present,’ the Inspector reveals 

There are four rooms at the inn, which is run by Lindisfarne local Paul on behalf of a new owner


The Ship, Marygate, Holy Island, Berwick-upon-Tweed, TD15 2SJ. Doubles from £120 B&B.

For more information call 01289 389311 or visit 

Rating out of five: *** 

Downstairs, a spinnaker hangs from the ceiling, along with a boat’s lantern and ship bells. There’s a Player’s Navy Cut cigarette ad, and black and white photographs of fishermen from a different era.

Holy Island Blessed Bitter is on tap and there’s a classic pub grub menu. 

Somehow, it feels right not to be enveloped by luxury, given that Holy Island, founded in AD635 by St Cuthbert, is a cradle of Christianity and that, later, St Cuthbert subjected himself to all kinds of deprivation on the island to get closer to the Almighty.

Getting to the island is a joy — as long as you follow the tides timetable.  

Every year, someone has to be rescued from the causeway, invariably by one of the fishermen who double up as emergency first-responders.

Paul serves a massive breakfast. Don’t expect a fancy oat milk flat white here. 

Vegans might not be catered for — but The Ship and all who sail in her know a thing or two about unfussy hospitality.

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