"Forth to Farne Way: North Berwick to Lindisfarne" by John Henderson and Jacquetta Megarry brings the tried, tested and highly effective Rucksack Readers formula to a less well-known walk than many they cover. The Forth to Farne Way was not a walk we'd heard of before reading this book: though it takes little imagination to see why it is such an attractive idea.
The publisher's description of the route sums it up beautifully: "This inspiring 70-mile pilgrim route starts from North Berwick on the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh, and continues via Whitekirk's 12th century church to Dunbar. It follows the North Sea coastline to the stunning scenery of St Abb's Head and visits Coldingham Priory, perhaps Scotland's most important Benedictine monastery. Enjoy impressive cliffs and dramatic sea stacks between visits to historic fishing villages. Cross the border and enter Berwick with its ramparts, walls and bridges across the River Tweed. The route culminates with a barefoot crossing of the Holy Island sands to Lindisfarne, where St Aidan founded a monastery in AD 635."
They go on to note: "Most people will complete the route within 5 to 8 days, staying in friendly B&Bs along the route, but it can also be done in several shorter expeditions using train and bus. This 72-page guidebook contains all you need to plan and enjoy the Forth to Farne Way: route detail in sections, with distance, terrain and refreshments where to find food and accommodation background on the spiritual dimension, geology and wildlife planning information for travel by train, bus, car or plane 16 pages with detailed route mapping at 1:30,000 in full colour, with 80 photographs, rucksack-friendly and on rainproof paper."
We found this guide a fascinating read, not only because we know most of the places it passes through well (and, to declare an interest, did contribute an image of the interior of Coldingham Priory to the venture). It is beautifully produced and will appeal both to armchair hikers and to the real thing, those who - pandemic permitting - are inspired to don their walking boots: and then take them off again for the final stretch following the traditional Pilgrim Way across the tidal sands to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. We've not tried, but the route descriptions look easy to follow and add hugely to the value of a book that is simply a joy to read.
And we've seldom agreed more with a comment in a guidebook than we did with the authors' recommendation that the unique atmosphere of Lindisfarne can only be experienced when the tide is in and the large number of day-trippers have gone home: when it has become, once again, an island.