St Cuthbert's Way

 

Melrose to Jedburgh

St Cuthberts Way, Scottish/English borders, Day 1

Following on from a couple of national trails in England and Scotland, we decided to walk the St Cuthberts Way from Melrose to Lindisfarne, a distance of 62 miles over 5 days. As there were 11 of us from our Friday walking group, we had booked all accommodation 8 months in advance. We were really looking forward to this walk which takes in the old Abbeys of Melrose, Dryburgh, and Jedburgh, visiting St Cuthberts cave, as well as following the river Tweed and ending at the majestic Holy Island of Lindisfarne, with its tidal causeway. The walk follows in the footsteps of the 7th century St Cuthbert, who spent his life in this area of the Scottish Borders.

Melrose to Jedburgh is a relatively long day of 19 miles, with 1200 feet of elevation. There was some discussion amongst our party whether to walk the full 19 miles, or walk 15 miles from Melrose to Harestanes visitor centre/Ancrum then catch a bus from Ancrum to Jedburgh, returning by bus to the same point the next day.

We stayed at the George and Abbotsford Hotel, Melrose. Breakfast is normally served from 8am, but when we checked in, we were very kindly offered the option to eat at 7.30am. After a delicious breakfast we bought some lunch from the local coop store (opens 7am-11pm). The walk begins at an information board near the Abbey, then heads south through the Market Square, up Dingleton Road, under the flyover before turning left at a sign for Eildon Hills, and SCW (St Cuthberts Way). We left at 9am, and were soon out in the countryside. Half way up to the col (9.15am,150m ascent), is a very pretty carved bench. The path splits here, the left-hand path takes 15 minutes to the top of Eildon Hill with an iron-age hill fort, but we continued to the col. We arrived at the col at 9.30am, 250m ascent, 1.3 miles covered. The col is 320m high, with tremendous views back over Melrose, the River Tweed valley and many hills beyond.

There is an obvious path down through the pretty yellow gorse, with great views south to the Cheviots. We followed the signs, entering a pretty forest, where the path splits we took the left-hand way, crossing a small valley, before heading uphill once more through more forest. We emerged to walk through a play park, into the small village of Bowden (10.15am). We continued, then took a detour crossing the river on a footbridge, passing a monument to William Wallace, Dryburgh Abbey Hotel, then arriving at the beautiful Dryburgh Abbey. There are some free toilets just past the entrance. We paid the £3.80 to enter the Abbey-half price due to renovations. It was well worth paying to have a good look round, there is a small shop with a coffee machine, and picnic benches.

Leaving at 12.10pm, we continued along the northern bank of the river, the path then goes uphill, before turning right onto the main road over Mertoun Bridge, then left along the south bank of the river. We stopped to eat our lunch in a lovely location on the river bank, whilst watching the herons flying nearby.

Continuing, we went up some steep steps to the church at Maxton (1.40pm,10 miles, 5 hours, 432m ascent), turning right up the lane, following the signs, just before the A68 turning left down through the trees. We followed the old Roman road of Dere Street. (5 hours 15 mins, 11 miles, 479m ascent).

To the right of the path is Lilliard’s Stone, a monument to a woman who fought in a local battle between the Scots and the English in 1545 (6 hours 12.5 miles). On the horizon Waterloo Monument can be seen-a huge 150ft (46m) tower on Peniel Heugh, completed in 1824.

Dere Street seemed endless, and as some members of the party were tired, we decided to call it a day. Where Dere street met a small road, we turned right, then turned left down the very busy main road, then right to Ancrum. We caught the 4.13pm bus number 68 to Jedburgh. We would then return to this point the following day.

We had a lovely day with lovely weather, historic sites visited, river walks, and beautiful scenery. Dryburgh Abbey was definitely worth a detour.

We were staying at the Royal Hotel, checking in at 5pm. We walked round the town of Jedburgh. If we had arrived earlier, we could have visited the very large abbey completed in 1138. We bought fish and chips from Abbey Take Away eating them outside on a picnic bench overlooking the Abbey. A great end to the day.

Distance 15.3 miles (24.6 km)

Duration of Walk 7 Hours including breaks

Elevation Gained 1946 feet (593m)

Pace 28 min a mile

Information/Advice

Dryburgh Abbey was half-price due to part of it being shut for renovations. It was founded in 1150, then attacked and burnt by the English in 1560. It contains the tombs of Walter Scott (a famous Scottish writer), and Field Marshal Douglas Haig (British Commander-in-chief of the forces in France for much of WW1).

Dere street is a Roman road that ran from York to the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh, probably constructed in around AD80. We have walked along part of it previously on the Pennine Way in Northumberland.

Jedburgh, is an interesting town with lots of historic monuments-the Abbey, Mary Queen of Scots Visitor centre, Jedburgh Castle jail, and a town trail to follow. There are a few restaurants/pubs and a large co-op store.

The previous day, we had visited Melrose Abbey, which was well-worth a visit too. Melrose is famous for seven-a-side rugby being founded there in 1883, a week’s competition is held in April every year. We also visited the footbridge over the river Tweed, with great views, before eating at The Ship Inn.

Websites used

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/dryburgh-abbey/

www.bookings.com The Royal Hotel Jedburgh

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather

https://www.bordersbuses.co.uk/services

 

 

Jedburgh to Morebattle

 

St Cuthberts Way, Scottish/English borders Day 2

Today’s 12-mile walk consists of some river walking, open countryside, great views, and a ruined castle. We had walked 15 miles the previous day on the St Cuthberts Way from Melrose to Ancrum, before catching the bus to Jedburgh.

 

Breakfast was served very promptly at 7.30 am where we were staying at The Royal Hotel in Jedburgh. We popped into the McColl’s shop nearby to buy lunch before catching the bus at 8.45am back to Ancrum. The other members of our party opted to miss this section, instead walking up the Borders Abbey Way from Jedburgh, then re-joining the S.C.W, 3 miles later. We planned to meet them at the junction of these 2 paths.

 

Alighting from the bus at Ancrum at 9am, we soon regained our path going through a wood, passing Harestanes visitor centre, and walking through more beautiful woods. We passed the entrance drive to Monteviot Gardens and house with amazing turreted buildings. Continuing down a field, right at a sign, then going over the river on an exciting swaying suspension bridge built in 1999, then turning left along the river, (9.50am). Our friends phoned from the meeting point, I explained that our walk was taking longer than we thought, and that we were at least 30 minutes away, so to continue without us. The path leaves the river, through woods, up some steps, with a pretty disused railway line on the right (10.15am). We turned left at the main road, before crossing over, then up a steep path to the right. We met a couple, Alex Pen and Trevor Sword, who had walked the coast-to-coast path across Scotland, and have written a book-A practical guide to camping. We had a nice chat for 15 minutes. 

 

We arrived at our original meeting point (1 hour 40 minutes, 3.8 miles 109m ascent), stopping for a snack by a bench and sign posts. It had taken us much longer to get here than we had anticipated (chatting too!). We followed Dere Street for a small way and then turned left through more woods, with birds, arable land to both sides and views to the Waterloo Tower. The Eildon Hills had now vanished from view (11.20am, 4.8 miles). We met an American couple part of a group of 18 who had flown in from Chicago, especially to do this walk. Turning right up the road, then left to “The Lunch Hut” (by a stream), which was sadly closed. We crossed the stream (11.35am). Continuing along a field, up a track to the top, left through a wood, then further fields and woods.

 

We met Patrick, who was on his 10th Lands’ End to John O’Groats walk, an amazing achievement wild camping most of the way, at the age of 72. He did not keep tabs of how far he walked each day, but said the whole trip would take him maybe 63 days-that is good going by anyone's standards. He was not a young man either. Hope for us all!! Dave recognised him from a Pennine Way walking site.

 

We reached the hamlet of Cresswell, with a pretty row of houses built in 1870, and a working BT phone in a red box. We ate lunch by the ruins of Cessford Castle, just off the path to the right. (1.45pm 10 miles, 382m ascent). Leaving the castle at 2.15pm, we followed the road with great views to The Cheviot, passing Cowbog at 2.45pm. We arrived at Morebattle Community Shop and Cafe Gardens at 3.10pm. We had a lovely time sitting in the back garden, chatting to the Americans, whom we had met earlier. They still had another 5 miles to go in the heat to their destination of Town Yetholm. The following day, they were walking from there

to Lindisfarne, we thought this quite a long way, and only hoped that they made it. Some of their party were getting transport for part of the walk.

 

We left the shop at 4pm to check into Templehall Hotel, on the edge of the village next door to a church. We could see our new American friends toiling up the path to Wide-open Hill, their next destination.

 

This had been a beautiful day of walking along the river, over a couple of small hills through meadows, fields of wheat, and some deciduous forest. The weather had been glorious, and we met many people along the way.

 

We ate dinner at Templehall Hotel-the only place in the village.

 

Distance 12.5 miles (20km)

Duration of Walk 6 Hours 1 min including breaks

Elevation Gained 1370 feet (420m)

Average pace 28 minutes a mile

Information/Advice

Cessford Castle was built for defence in about 1450, being only 8 miles from the English border, with walls in places 13 feet thick. It was part of a series of frontier defences between England and Scotland. The Ker family lived there with a garrison of 60 soldiers, before it was abandoned in 1607.

Morebattle takes its name from dwellings by a lake with reference to the lost Linton Loch. We were surprised by the number of churches in such a small place, maybe this is a result of having a history of religious dissent in the area in the 18th century. Every year the Morebattle games are held, with many events, including a race up Wideopen Hill (890ft). Morebattle Community shop was very well-stocked, it has a coffee machine and a lovely back garden with picnic tables. Its summer opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am till 4pm, Saturday 8am till 3pm and Sunday 9am till 1pm.

Websites used

https://morebattlecommunityshop.co.uk/

www.bookings.com Templehall Hotel

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather

 

 

 

Morebattle to Kirk Yetholm

St Cuthberts Way, Scottish/English borders Day 3

Due to a shortage of accommodation in Kirk Yetholm, we had a short day of walking, 8 miles. We later realised the rooms had all been booked by an American party of 18, so just unlucky really.

 

As it was a short day, we had a leisurely breakfast where we were staying at Templeton Hall Hotel, at 9am. Breakfast is served between 8am and 9.30am, but an earlier option is available to eat in your room. We visited the well-stocked village shop before leaving at 10.15 am.

 

We followed the signs out of the village, going up a road, very excited to spot a golden eagle flying high above us, with red campion and cow parsley lining the road. There was a slight confusion as the path seemed to go left across a ford, even though the weather had been dry, this was too deep to cross and covered in algae. Fortunately, 100m further up the road a bridge has been built over the river. The path goes very steeply up Grubbit Law hill. (1 hour, 2 miles, 252m ascent), then across Wideopen Hill. (1 hour 30 mins, 2.75 miles, 350m ascent), with views to Bowmont water and Kirk Yetholm. This is the highest point of the walk at 1207feet/365m with a plaque and is approximately midway between Melrose and Lindisfarne.

 

Descending the obvious path, we then turned right down a track before turning left down a road passing some houses (12.45pm), turning right for a short distance then left alongside a pretty river. We left the river to visit Town Yetholm, stopping for a drink outside at the very busy Plough Inn. (6.5 miles, 3.5 hours, 372m ascent). The small community shop here was nothing like the previous day’s in Morebattle. Disappointing really, as it had the space outside to serve coffee and sell more products, in hindsight we would have stocked up more the day before. There is some accommodation here, a pretty village green with a bench and book swop in an old phone box. We visited the very interesting free Yetholm Heritage centre, open 10am till 4.30pm every day.

 

We returned to the river, then turned right along a road to arrive in Kirk Yetholm, which has a lovely large village green, with interesting information boards, about walks, and local Scottish gypsies who settled here in the 17th century. We checked into the Border Hotel, which has a pile of boots outside, and a sign marking the end of the Pennine Way.

 

Once the summit of Grubbit Law hill (326m) had been reached, this had been a relatively easy day. We had taken our time and enjoyed the scenery, which had changed from the previous day’s arable farm land to rolling hills with some peat, skirting round the granite masses of the Cheviots.

 

Distance 8 miles (12.8 km)

Duration of Walk 4 Hours 45 mins including breaks

Elevation Gained 1305 feet (398m)

Average pace 36 minutes a mile

Information/Advice

Kirk Yetholm marks the end of the Pennine Way, which runs from/to Edale in Derbyshire 268miles away. Therefore, it can be a busy area, and accommodation needs to be booked in advance. There is a shortage of shops, taxis and dining options. We had booked in advance to eat at the Border Hotel. Yetholm means “gate town” Later we visited Yetholm Church, which was very interesting.

Websites used

www.expedia.com The Border Hotel

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather

 

 

Kirk Yetholm to Wooler

St Cuthberts Way, Scottish/English borders Day 4

This was a very scenic day of 13 miles, with 1900 feet of elevation crossing the border from Scotland to England. We were staying at the Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm, the previous night we had requested breakfast at 8am and ordered a packed lunch (£9.50).

 

The hot weather from the previous day continued, with the threat of afternoon thunder storms. Following another delicious breakfast, we left at 9am, just as a shower was abating. We left the beautiful village green, following the Pennine Way/St Cuthberts Way signs up a steep road, which continues onto a track.

 

After 45 minutes of walking the path splits, with SCW going left, and the path going over a col. We reached the border at 10.10 am, (2 miles, 260m ascent 55 mins), with respective signs saying welcome to England/Scotland. The path is straightforward, passing Eccles Cairn (352m) to the left, descending past a plantation, along a road, to arrive in the small hamlet of Hethpool, where there is some accommodation. (406m ascent, 6.7 miles, 3 hours). We continued along the valley, the path going over a cattle grid, before turning uphill. There are shooting ranges, fortunately not in use when we passed!! and signs saying mind out for the ground nesting birds. A diversion could be taken to the left up the top of Yeavering Bell, which had the largest and most important hill fort in Northumberland.

 

We stopped to eat our lunch on the slopes of Tom Tallon's crag- a great name. The packed lunch was extremely disappointing and not worth the money paid. In the area are views to The Cheviot the sea, and plenty of birds to watch. Passing Humbleton Hill to the left, which has some of the best examples of sub-glacial water channels in northern England. It is famous for the battle of Humbleton Hill which was fought between England and Scotland in 1402, and mentioned in Shakespeare's Henry IV. Continuing over a dried-up peat bog, then down through a very pretty wood, (5.5 hours 11.6 miles 622m ascent) before emerging at a car park. (14.45pm). At this point the path was closed due to tree damage caused by storm Elwin the previous year. We turned left, and followed the narrow fairly busy Common Road into Wooler, passing a disused WW2 bunker to our left.

 

We arrived in Wooler at 3.00pm, checking in at our destination of the very old Hotel and Wine Lounge. Later we had a lovely walk round Wooler, visiting the 5 churches, war memorial, old station and a large co-op. We sat on a bench eating our delicious fish and chips from Millie and Cindy's chip shop, by our hotel.  There are numerous pubs to stay in and dine. If wishing to leave, there is a bus to Berwick railway station.

 

This had been another day of lovely walking, most of the day had felt fairly remote, without seeing any walkers until lunch-time. An alternative route would have been to follow the Pennine Way to a junction 30 minutes before the top of The Cheviot. Then ascending The Cheviot, before descending to Wooler with views of the town and the sea. We may have chosen this route, but as thunderstorms had been forecast, opted for the valley route instead. However, we had no rain.

 

Distance 13 miles (21km)

Duration of Walk 6 Hours 10 mins including breaks

Elevation Gained 2050 feet (625m)

Average pace 28 minutes a mile

Information/Advice

There are no refreshments on this stage-so pack accordingly. We should have stocked up on more food before arriving in Kirk Yetholm, as there is no shop there. Hence, we ordered the packed lunch from The Border Hotel.

There is sometimes bad weather on this section, so pack accordingly.

Websites used

www.bookings.com   Hotel and Wine Lounge Wooler

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather

 

 

 

Wooler to Beal

St Cuthberts Way, Scottish/English borders Day 5

This is a really interesting walk of 13 miles, visiting Weetwood Moor with prehistoric remains and St Cuthberts Cave, and having some great views to the sea. We had ordered breakfast the previous night, which was served on a Sunday between 8.30am and 9.30am. We went in the Perfect Shot sandwich shop over the road to buy lunch, which was as delicious as last time we visited.

 

We turned left just before the co-op and the Church. To the right are some steps to the war memorial, with the names of 88 local men who died in both world wars-very poignant. Continuing down the street, we crossed the A697 main road, to the left are the old engine sheds and station house. The railway once ran from Alnwick to Cornhill, before sadly being closed in 1965. Turning right along the old railway line, at the end we turned left, passing the primary school before turning diagonally left to go across Weetwood Moor. On the gates of the primary school are 2 stone lions. They were carved in WW2 by Italian POWs, when this was a prison camp. On the moor there

are some prehistoric sites, including stone circles and cup-and-ringed marked stones.

 

Descending, then going over Weetwood Bridge- which dates from the 16th century, and is part of the Battle of Flodden eco museum. (1hour 30mins, 4 miles 170m ascent). We passed through the small settlement of West Horton, with many crows amongst trees and buildings. We turned left off the lane, then right, passing a WW2 pillbox. (5 miles, 212m ascent, 2 hours). By a couple of houses at Old Hazelrigg, there is a carved large wooden statue of St Cuthbert. We stopped to take photos, but continued as it was rather warm. (6.3 miles, 255m ascent, 2 hours 30 mins).

 

Uphill once more with great views across arable fields with wind turbines in the distance. We stopped in the shade of the woods outside St Cuthbert’s cave, for our very delicious sandwiches and pies. A very atmospheric place to be, we love walking in the steps of history. It is amazing to think people have been enjoying the area for so long (8.4 miles, 3 hours 15 mins, 356m ascent).

 

Continuing uphill through the trees for a short length of time, then descending across fields with views to the North Sea. There is a stile where the SCW meets the Saint Oswald’s Way, over the stile turning northwards along a track we entered the very pretty well-signed forest. We emerged, going down the road, then called into a lovely Guru café at Fenwick. We stopped for a coffee; they sell many souvenirs too. (5 hours 12 miles 437m ascent).

 

At the crossroads in Fenwick, we turned left, then right along quiet country lanes, before crossing over the A1 and arriving at our destination of the Lindisfarne Inn in West Mains at 4pm.

 

Distance 14 miles (22.5km)

Duration of Walk 6 Hours 5 mins including breaks

Elevation Gained 1520 feet (462m)

Pace 25 minutes a mile

Information/Advice

St Cuthbert’s Cave is said to be one of the resting places for St Cuthbert’s body on the journey from Lindisfarne to his resting place in Durham Cathedral in 875 when the monks fled the Viking invasion. Over the years, many people have carved their names in the soft sandstone.

Some of the trees were blown down during storms Arwen and Malik in late 2021/2022. If walking on a windy day take care!!

We ate dinner at the Lindisfarne Inn, which is conveniently situated on the A1, by a bus stop with buses to Berwick, and next door to a petrol station with a very handy Londis store. There is a laundrette at the back of the shop, it was a shame that we only spotted this as we were leaving.

Websites used

https://find-open.co.uk/wooler/the-perfect-shot-3841425 Sandwich shop in Wooler.

https://www.thegurucoffeeco.co.uk/ coffee in Fenwick

www.bookings.com  Lindisfarne Inn

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather

 

 

 

Lindisfarne Inn, Beal, to Lindisfarne

St Cuthberts Way, Scottish/English borders Day 6

This is a relatively easy day of walking 7.5 miles across the causeway to Lindisfarne (Holy Island), then back over the sands. There are so many interesting places to visit on the island an overnight stay might be nice, with visits to the priory and castle. Be very careful to study the tide times before leaving for Lindisfarne. We checked them in advance on the Northumberland County website.

 

Due to the times of the tide, we had decided to cross the causeway along the side of the road, visiting Lindisfarne, remaining there during high tide, and returning like pilgrims used to over the sands following the markers. At least that was the plan.

On Lindisfarne there is a castle, and a priory to visit, as well as a couple of shops/cafes/and a pub. Some accommodation is available, I would imagine that this gets booked well in advance, some places requiring a 3-night stay.

 

We were up early at 6.15am, to leave at 7am, before the tide covered the causeway to the island. Unfortunately, breakfast was not served until 7.30am, so we had to skip it, and bought instant porridge from the Londis shop next door to eat in our room instead. We were very excited as it was the last day of the walk with our friends, a great finish to a magnificent walk.

 

Leaving at 7am, the sun was already quite high as sunrise was at 4.35am. We walked along the pavement at the side of the road. There is a large neon sign saying caution check crossing times and a tide table at the start of the causeway, but obviously they should be checked before setting out. It was lovely to be out on such a beautiful morning, going over a level crossing, then passing The Barn at Beal at 7.15am with a campsite, restaurant and coffee shop. Unfortunately, it was too early to go in. People staying there had fabulous views over the causeway to Lindisfarne.

 

On the left just before the road narrows across the causeway is a large car park, that is now shut-we wondered why! (7.30am). We reached the causeway at 7.40am, happy with our timings. Probably because it was early the causeway was quiet, with the sun glinting on the sea weed covered rocks on both sides. After 40 minutes we reached a refuge box, built just in case people are caught by the tide-which does happen more often than you would imagine. In an emergency, it is high enough to climb inside and phone for the coast guard, whilst awaiting rescue. We passed a large party hurrying the other way, we thought that they were a bit late in leaving the island and hoped they did not get caught in the incoming tide. We could see the causeway was still clear, but could see the sea rolling in across the sands. An hour after the refuge box, we reached the end of the causeway-happy to arrive before the tide. To the left is a sign saying danger former military area with unexploded military debris-take care.

 

There were delivery drivers quickly leaving the island, but overall, it had been a lovely quiet walk. The walk ends at Lindisfarne Priory (9am 5.5 miles 65m ascent), there are free public toilets nearby. We could not find an actual finish marker.

 

When checking the tide previously, we had realised that we would have to stay on the island for a couple of hours during high tide. This suited us, we visited the bird viewing hide just before the castle, the castle (national trust), old limestone kilns, the priory, church, visitor centre, and Chare Ends café. Once the island was cut off, it was very quiet.

 

After about 2pm when the causeway re-opened, we could not believe the number of vehicles that poured over from the mainland. Just before the village, there is a large car-park which was quickly filling up. The causeway would have been extremely busy and dangerous to walk back along.

 

We had already decided to walk across the sands, following the row of marker posts, and hundreds of years of history.  After waiting for the tide to recede at Chare Ends (3.15pm) we removed our boots, and started out across the sands. Halfway across there is another rescue box, which we took turns in climbing. We met a few people walking the other way. Even at low tide there were areas where we had to wade through the water, it was a good thing that we had shorts on. At 4.30pm we were back at the refuge box on causeway (14 miles, 165m ascent). We stopped to dry our feet and put our boots back on. We passed the closed car park, taking a path behind the hedge on the right-hand side of the road, (which we had not seen in the morning) passing Beal Barn, reaching our hotel at 5.30pm.

 

This definitely has to be the best day of the St Cuthbert’s Way walk, and maybe in the top 20 of all the walks we have completed. The walk back across the sands was stunning, with the light, views and historic interest. Be careful not to miss it.

 

Distance 16.5 miles (26.5km)

Duration of Walk 10 Hours 30 mins including breaks

Elevation Gained 695 feet (212m)

Pace per minute 38 minutes a mile (we really did take our time)

These are the total timings for the walk, and walking round Holy Island too. The actual walk to Holy Island and back is about 7.5 miles.

Information/Advice

Be very careful to study the tide times before leaving for Lindisfarne. We checked them in advance on the Northumberland County website. The sands are covered by water for a much longer period of time than the causeway. Only walk on a receding tide, completing your crossing by the midpoint of the safe crossing period, with bare feet or in waterproof shoes. Do not stray from the marker posts due to quick-sands. When checking the tide times, many of them are for the causeway which is drier for longer than the sands. Do not cross at dusk, in the dark or in bad weather.

 

The causeway was built in 1954, prior to that everyone arrived by boat, or walked across the sands. The crossing takes at least 75 mins. A walking pole could be useful.

 

The walk over the sands back from Lindisfarne was one of the most fantastic walks that we have been on in the UK. We had perfect weather and sand conditions. It was magnificent to feel very small in such a large expanse of sand. The tall posts were so helpful in marking the way.

We stayed for 2 nights at the Lindisfarne Inn. Alternatively depending on the tides and availability of accommodation, the causeway could have been walked the previous day. Then you could stay on the island for one or 2 nights. However, some accommodation has a minimum stay of 3 nights.

 

St Aidan founded a religious community on Lindisfarne in AD635, with St Cuthbert being the Prior 30 years later. In the 9th century the monastery was abandoned due to Viking raids. In the 12th century it was re-founded by monks from Durham Cathedral, and a new church of St Marys built. Lindisfarne was one of the most important religious centres in the Anglo-Saxon world. In the church is an interesting world map, with drawing pins indicating where visitors have travelled from.

Remember as Geoffrey Chaucer said “Time and tide waits for no man”.

Websites used

www.bookings.com  Lindisfarne Inn where we ate too

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather

https://holyislandcrossingtimes.northumberland.gov.uk/

https://www.northumberlandcoastaonb.org/pilgrims-way/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-66404988

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wooler to Beal

St Cuthberts Way, Scottish/English borders Day 5

This is a really interesting walk of 13 miles, visiting Weetwood Moor with prehistoric remains and St Cuthberts Cave, and having some great views to the sea. We had ordered breakfast the previous night, which was served on a Sunday between 8.30am and 9.30am. We went in the Perfect Shot sandwich shop over the road to buy lunch, which was as delicious as last time we visited.

 

We turned left just before the co-op and the Church. To the right are some steps to the war memorial, with the names of 88 local men who died in both world wars-very poignant. Continuing down the street, we crossed the A697 main road, to the left are the old engine sheds and station house. The railway once ran from Alnwick to Cornhill, before sadly being closed in 1965. Turning right along the old railway line, at the end we turned left, passing the primary school before turning diagonally left to go across Weetwood Moor. On the gates of the primary school are 2 stone lions. They were carved in WW2 by Italian POWs, when this was a prison camp. On the moor there

are some prehistoric sites, including stone circles and cup-and-ringed marked stones.

 

Descending, then going over Weetwood Bridge- which dates from the 16th century, and is part of the Battle of Flodden eco museum. (1hour 30mins, 4 miles 170m ascent). We passed through the small settlement of West Horton, with many crows amongst trees and buildings. We turned left off the lane, then right, passing a WW2 pillbox. (5 miles, 212m ascent, 2 hours). By a couple of houses at Old Hazelrigg, there is a carved large wooden statue of St Cuthbert. We stopped to take photos, but continued as it was rather warm. (6.3 miles, 255m ascent, 2 hours 30 mins).

 

Uphill once more with great views across arable fields with wind turbines in the distance. We stopped in the shade of the woods outside St Cuthbert’s cave, for our very delicious sandwiches and pies. A very atmospheric place to be, we love walking in the steps of history. It is amazing to think people have been enjoying the area for so long (8.4 miles, 3 hours 15 mins, 356m ascent).

 

Continuing uphill through the trees for a short length of time, then descending across fields with views to the North Sea. There is a stile where the SCW meets the Saint Oswald’s Way, over the stile turning northwards along a track we entered the very pretty well-signed forest. We emerged, going down the road, then called into a lovely Guru café at Fenwick. We stopped for a coffee; they sell many souvenirs too. (5 hours 12 miles 437m ascent).

 

At the crossroads in Fenwick, we turned left, then right along quiet country lanes, before crossing over the A1 and arriving at our destination of the Lindisfarne Inn in West Mains at 4pm.

 

Distance 14 miles (22.5km)

Duration of Walk 6 Hours 5 mins including breaks

Elevation Gained 1520 feet (462m)

Pace 25 minutes a mile

Information/Advice

St Cuthbert’s Cave is said to be one of the resting places for St Cuthbert’s body on the journey from Lindisfarne to his resting place in Durham Cathedral in 875 when the monks fled the Viking invasion. Over the years, many people have carved their names in the soft sandstone.

Some of the trees were blown down during storms Arwen and Malik in late 2021/2022. If walking on a windy day take care!!

We ate dinner at the Lindisfarne Inn, which is conveniently situated on the A1, by a bus stop with buses to Berwick, and next door to a petrol station with a very handy Londis store. There is a laundrette at the back of the shop, it was a shame that we only spotted this as we were leaving.

Websites used

https://find-open.co.uk/wooler/the-perfect-shot-3841425 Sandwich shop in Wooler.

https://www.thegurucoffeeco.co.uk/ coffee in Fenwick

www.bookings.com  Lindisfarne Inn

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather

 

 

 

 

Beadnell to Alnmouth

Northumberland Coastal Path

 

This was the last day of our current trip, at around 18 miles. We had a train booked from Alnmouth Station back to our home in Manchester at 6.10pm, so we wanted to be on our way early, another hot day was forecast too. Before our walk from Beadnell began, we looked round the beautiful village with a church, pub and cafes, having been too tired the previous night. Because, the cafe and shop in Beadnell did not open until 8am, we had bought some food in the Co-op store in Seahouses the previous day.

 

A sea mist had formed when we left at 7.30am, but this soon cleared, and it turned into a hot day. We walked down a quiet road, with a rocky shore line to our left. We went to visit Beadnell harbour with fascinating old lime kilns, and an information board, eating some breakfast on a bench (1.5 miles walked, 8.05am) We were so lucky that the tide was out and we could just walk down the steps then across the beach for approximately 1.5 miles. It was fabulous, there were not many people around, just the sound of the sea. Just before the beach became rock, we walked up a path through the sand dunes (8.45am, 3.2 miles walked). Then going through a car park, we followed a national trust path, which heads south through sand dunes, with views to the rocky shore, and a castle on the headland in the distance.

 

We arrived in the very small pretty village of Low St Newton (4.6 miles, 1 hour 50 mins, 42m ascent), unfortunately the Ship Inn does not open until 11am, but apparently has very good food. There is a free clean public toilet 70m from beach. The marked path goes behind the village, parallel with the shore, but as the tide was out, we had another beautiful beach walk without our boots on. Just before the rocky headland, we left the beach (10am, 6.2 miles, 45 ascent, 2 hours 30 minutes) and followed a path arriving at Dunstanburgh castle at 10.20 am. We used our national trust cards to enter, it is English Heritage too, otherwise it would cost £6.80 each. It is an amazing place to visit, with great views. There is a gift shop inside the castle which sells coffee and biscuits, and had a free toilet (7.2 miles, 86m, 3 hours 10 mins). Leaving at 11am, heading south once more, we had views along the cliff to Craster and beyond. Craster is another pretty fishing harbour, famous for its catches of herring and salmon, with black cottages built from the local stone. We walked past the Jolly Fisherman pub, and kipper shop to the Shore Line Cafe, calling in there for a toastie and coffee. (Nice but not really on the shore, with no view. There was a sign saying no Wi-Fi, talk to each other instead, a great plan, but not when we needed to check our trains home!! See later).

 

Leaving at 12.10pm, we passed an old bathing house, which had belonged to Earl Grey (the famous tea), who lived nearby. It is certainly a spectacular location, with a small sandy beach nearby (12.40pm.10.8 miles). Just before a footbridge, we detoured right up an indistinct path that leads to an iron age settlement. If you use your imagination, you can go back 7,000 years in time to when there was a settlement here. But we did not think it was that interesting with just an earthen ditch remaining. But as a historic site, it might be worth exploring by archaeology students.

 

Returning to the path, dolphins were spotted from Sugar Sands beach-unfortunately not by us!!  We crossed over a 2nd bridge and had views back to the castle. (13 miles)

We arrived in Boulmer at 2pm, it was busy as filming was taking place, we passed the Fishing Boat inn. (14 miles. 229m ascent 6.5 hours walked). There are free toilets on the right-hand side of the road, then a plaque about the RAF base that was here during WW2. We turned left down a track (2.30pm, 15.24 miles), gaining the coast path once more, with a sign saying Craster 5.5 miles, Alnmouth 1.75 miles. We carefully crossed the golf course, passing the club house. (15.5 miles), before going down into Alnmouth, passing a fascinating gun emplacement. We arrived in Alnmouth, which has with many shops, pubs and cafes. We wandered around, bought an ice cream, eating it in the park by the estuary.

 

Alnmouth Station is about 2 miles from Alnmouth, so we continued along a path by the river, over a bridge, along the side of a main road, through the cross roads uphill to the station. It was nice to arrive at the station an hour early for our train. There was a free water machine, a locked disabled toilet, but no cafe or shop nearby. We caught the 6.10pm train from Alnmouth, changing for the Manchester train in Newcastle-fortunately being able to buy food for tea there.

 

This was a fabulous day of walking. We were so pleased that we had spent a few extra days in Northumberland. The day had exceeded our expectations, the scenery, beaches, small fishing villages, and Dunstanburgh castle were superb. We were sad that we did not have time to continue further down the coast-but maybe another time.

 

Distance 19.7 miles (31.5km)

 

Duration of Walk 9 Hours 45 mins including breaks

Elevation Gained 1135 feet (346m)

Pace 29 minute per mile

 

Information/Advice

We may return one day to walk the Northumberland coastal path all the way from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Newcastle, which would encompass many castles, villages, and beaches, with places to stay along the way.

 

The path was mostly well signed with new sign posts saying coastal path, but sometimes this path hugged the coast too much. We were following the Northumberland Coast path signs. We had a guidebook, and our phones with ordnance survey maps which we used occasionally.

 

A strange thing about today was that our phones both moved forward by one hour when we were near Craster. We don't know which country we seemed to be getting a signal from!!!

Resources used

Walking St Oswald’s Way and St Cuthbert’s Way, with the Northumberland Coast Path. Cicerone Press by Rudolf Abraham.

A more recent version than my book was published in September 2023

The walk is mostly very well signed. A book/map is always nice just to check details about places to see en route.

The Northumberland Coast Path by Roland Tarr and trail map could have been bought, but we found our book sufficient.

Websites used

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather

www.northumberlandcoastpath.org

https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/

 

 

Advice and Summary for the St Cuthbert’s Way,

Northumberland, England

The trip has been amazing. We were so fortunate to spend the time with such good friends, and have such fabulous weather.

We booked all the accommodation 7 months in advance, using Bookings.com, or Expedia and, even then it was a struggle to book 6 rooms in the same accommodation/place.

The walk over the sands back from Lindisfarne was one of the most fantastic walks that we have been on in the UK. We had perfect weather and sand conditions. It was magnificent to feel very small in such a large expanse of sand. The tall posts were so helpful marking the way. It has been used for centuries as the main route between Lindisfarne and the mainland, the road causeway only opening in the late 1950s.

We were also very lucky to see a variety of birds, including a golden Eagle that I had not seen in the wild before.

We had a fabulous time and had been blessed with great weather, beautiful scenery, and lovely company.

We left our home in South Manchester, and caught trains, via Manchester Piccadilly, and York to Berwick-upon-Tweed, before catching a bus to Melrose. We were hoping that all connections would work out. Other members of the walking group left their cars at Beal, then caught the bus to Melrose. Alternatively, we could have caught a train to Edinburgh then one to Tune burn, then it is a 30-minute walk to Melrose, but we didn't realise that this was an option prior to booking the trains.

Alternative routes to our trip would be:

DAY 1Walk all the way to Jedburgh, instead of catching the bus from Harestanes.

DAY 2 Walk from Jedburgh to Kirk Yetholm, instead of staying at Morebattle. We had to stay in Morebattle due to a shortage of accommodation in Kirk Yetholm for that particular night.

DAY 3 Walk from Kirk Yetholm to Wooler over The Cheviot.

DAY 4 Walk from Wooler to Lindisfarne, depending on the tide times, and stay the night on Lindisfarne. 

From the Lindisfarne Inn, Beal, walk along the Northumberland coast path, for 12 miles to Berwick Station, then catch the train home.

From the Lindisfarne Inn, head south as we did to Alnmouth, then continue down the coast to Newcastle, alternatively follow the St. Oswald’s way, leaving the coast at Warkworth, ending at Heavenfield, near Hexham.

 

Items to take

 

We wore boots, but not everyone did. We also take trainers, just in case of any problems with the boots. Some of the paths were rocky with loose stones, so we thought boots were a good option.

Take fruit, snacks, cereal bars etc, and plenty of water, as on some days there are no refreshments en-route.

As usual take sun tan lotion, sun hats, a tick card, insect repellent, spare laces, and a good first aid kit, as there are few pharmacies en-route (and sometimes closed all afternoon). Take a phone and battery chargers, so the apps can be used.

We had glorious weather-so we did not need the waterproofs, winter hats and gloves that we had taken. But best to be prepared.

Accommodation

www.bookings.com The Royal Hotel Jedburgh

www.bookings.com Templehall Hotel    ate there too

www.expedia.com The Border Hotel     ate there too

www.bookings.com   Hotel and Wine Lounge Wooler

www.bookings.com  Lindisfarne Inn 2 nights where we ate too

Cafes Visited

https://www.thegurucoffeeco.co.uk/

Resources used

Walking St Oswald’s Way and St Cuthbert’s Way, with the Northumberland Coast Path. Cicerone Press by Rudolf Abraham. This book covers St Cuthbert’s Way from Melrose to West Mains, we then followed the St Oswald’s Way from West Mains to Lindisfarne. Then from West Mains to Alnmouth going the opposite way from the book down the Northumberland Coast Path.

A more recent version than my book was published in September 2023

St Cuthbert’s Way trail map

The walk is mostly very well signed. A book/map is always nice just to check details about places to see en-route.

https://www.bordersbuses.co.uk/services

Useful websites

 

www.mapmywalk.com

 

booking.com   Hotels

 

https//www.bbc.com/weather

www.nationalrail.com  trains

In the words of the most famous hiker – Alfred Wainwright, in relation to the Coast-to-Coast Walk.

 

“I want to encourage in others the ambition to devise with the aid of maps their own cross-country marathons and not be merely followers of other people's routes: there is no end to the possibilities for originality and initiative.”

 

Happy travels, and hopefully, many more walks.