Bound by Starlight is the website of Scottish landscape photographer Stuart McIntyre.

Stuart prides himself in taking unique images of Scotland at night.

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Home  /  Blog   /   Lindisfarne Castle on The Holy Islan

 Lindisfarne Castle on The Holy Islan


This is Lindisfarne Castle on The Holy Island of Lindisfarne. This was one of the most satisfying moments of my astro-photography career. It is a seriously awesome place to visit, At low tide it is more or less part of the main land. then the tide comes in and floods the causeway making it a genuine island! 

Crossing the causeway does need some care you need to make sure the tide times are low so that the North sea does not give you a courtesy car wash! I don’t know if you know how difficult it is to get out the door when you have kids but by the time I had dropped them off I was running late. It was a bit of a stressful drive over there as I had visions of missing the tides. I arrived and crossed with only 10 minutes to spare of the advised safe time. I was not dramatic just lots of sandy patches on the road.

I had taken food and thermals to last me the night. however the village was lovely. I ended up eating in the local pub. it was forecast to be -2 with wind so I had gone “full teddy-bear” with my clothing options. It turned out to be a lot more mild and no wind. Which made me feel rather ridiculous as my partner in the pub was the enormous mountain of clothes i had removed.

After my slap up meal I walked over to the castle and my heart sank. the harbour could only be described as a monument to light pollution. it shone so bright that the castle was very harshly illuminated that it was not a suitable location for astro-photography. I spend a couple of hours there miserably taking some shots but really just thinking I was trapped until the tide came down so I could leave.

at around 10.30pm I decided to head but to the village pub and ask if the lights were on a timer and if they would go off. I very nice man at the bar said that they would stay on all night… however if I was to go into a particular shed in the harbour there was a fuse box.. and if I flipped that switch the flood lights would go off….

I have to confess that as I walked over to the harbour I was nervous. am I really allowed to do this? the man in the pub in seemed very confident so I’ll do it. and one thing I did notice is there are a lot of signs saying what you can’t do. there was actually a sign saying it was illegal to leave explosives outside that building… there was not a sign saying please don’t shut off the power to the harbour… and oh my was it the most satisfying switch I have ever flipped. It didn’t shut off the flood lights… it switched off every light, It went from so bright you could read a book at any point on the pier to complete astronomical darkness! It was so satisfying I nearly turned on the lights just to do it again!

so back up to the castle and out with the tracking rig. Orion is the most identifiable object on the right hand side the over exposed part is the Orion Nebula that featured on my Buachaille Etive Mor shot. the faint bow shape is Barnard’s Loop and the brighter purple nebula is the Rosette nebula Above the chimney pots is the Seagull nebula… was this clever planning and composition on my part…. nope I had never even heard of the Seagull nebula. it just turn up in my photo so I thought I better go and find out what it is! 

Would just have to say thank you to the locals on Holy Island. It was a really lovely place to visit.