The life and progress of St Cuthbert has provided the inspiration for this route. St Cuthbert started his ministry in Melrose in about 650AD. After a time at Ripon, he moved to Lindisfarne to be prior. While there, he became famous for his healing powers. He was appointed Bishop of Lindisfarne, travelling widely, preaching the Gospel. St Cuthbert spent the last part of his life on Inner Farne Island in retreat and when he died he was buried on Lindisfarne. Eleven years later his coffin was opened, and his body was found to be perfectly preserved, which led to his beatification. In 875AD, following Viking raids, the Community of St Cuthbert left Lindisfarne taking the saints’ relics, and were said to have rested at St Cuthbert’s Cave. The route of St Cuthbert’s Way links a number of places associated with his story.
The walk starts at Melrose Abbey, a 12th century Cistercian foundation. From here the route crosses the Eildon Hills to Bowden, and continues through Newtown St Boswells, and along the River Tweed to Maxton. Dere Street, the Roman Road, is followed to the Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre. A detour will allow you to visit the Waterloo Monument. The route then continues to Cessford, where the remains of Cessford Castle can be seen. From here the walk continues through Morebattle then climbing onto Gribbit Law (310m/1000ft). A ridge walk with splendid views leads to Kirk Yetholm. After Kirk Yetholm the route crosses the Border fence below Eccles Cairn and enters the Northumberland National Park. From Hethpool in the College Valley, a high level route crosses a moorland area rich in prehistoric remains before dropping down into the market town of Wooler. St Cuthbert’s Way then crosses Weetwood Moor and the River Till, reaching St Cuthbert’s Cave and soon gaining the first view of Lindisfarne. The final section leads on to the coast at the edge of Holy Island sands. Take the causeway onto the island, or follow the posts of the historic Pilgrims Path across the sands.
The route of St Cuthbert’s Way includes low level stretches along riverside paths and in the Northumberland coastal area as well as more strenuous stretches through the Cheviot Hills between Morebattle and Wooler. Although the route is waymarked throughout in both directions with the St Cuthbert’s Cross symbol, a reasonable level of fitness and navigational skill are required, especially in poor weather conditions. Suitable footwear, warm and waterproof clothing, food and drink, maps and compass are all necessities.
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