Adam’s Wild Swim to Holy Island

November 23rd, 2010 by admin

Adam Rattray, the daring adventurer and wild swimmer, resolved, with two companions, to match Robson Green’s recent achievement in swimming the icy waters between the Northumbrian mainland and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

Both men chose to disregard the conventional means of access to the island – the causeway of which Sir Walter Scott writes, where

‘Twice a day the waves efface

Of staves and sandalled feet the trace’

– but Green is a tough Northumbrian and Adam half a Viking, descended, no doubt, from some of the fierce marauders who sacked Lindisfarne Priory in 793 and again in 875. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the earlier sack was presaged by ‘whirlwinds, lightning storms and fiery dragons seen in the sky’. The seas were hardly enticing for Adam’s visit – in September 2010 – but at least the dragons stayed away. Here is his typically modest account of the feat:

‘It was a little rough. Force 5-7 winds do horrible things to the North Sea so we changed the time and angle of the crossing. Dave (one of our party) drove four hours on the morning despite a 3 a.m. text from me that told him there was no chance that we would be able to swim (the wind was howling, and the coastguard irritated). When we finally started swimming it was actually not too difficult – we had seals to accompany us – but I had foolishly smeared vaseline over my hands and face; this then got onto my goggles so I swam in a greasy mist with little idea where I was going. Reaching the shore line was a relief and we raised over £600 for charity.


  1. Rupert, excellent peice about Adam. Loved the wish list for furniture for the house.

  2. Pg de Loriol chandieu says:

    loved this bit on swimming on the wild side! Have you ever considered joining the Serpentine club for al fresco swimming on dec/jan?