A Long Walk–Part 4


The final leg of our journey – a few miles that would take us from the Lindisfarne Inn over to Lindisfarne, or ‘Holy Island’ itself. Purists would have walked back the couple of miles to Fenwick and rejoined the official route over to the causeway. However we decided we’d take the direct route, down the road through Beal.

We were a little early as the tide had only started to recede, so we had a little wait before we could join the causeway.


There are two options for walking over to the island. Down the causeway or along the ‘Pilgrim’s Route’ following a line of poles across the sand. I quite fancied the latter but knew it was the more difficult choice in many ways, even though it is the shorter route. It would be difficult underfoot (it’s best to go barefooted and with shorts or trousers rolled up) and we would have had to wait a couple more hours before we could set off before the water had receded enough to risk it. So it was down the causeway for us



We passed the refuge built for foolish drivers who don’t pay attention to the tide tables, or think they can beat the tide.


The island was in view.


We had to dodge the cars, vans and lorries, some of them driving too fast and recklessly and it would have been quite miserable, I think, if it was raining and windy as there’s no shelter. Luckily for us the cloud was clearing and the sun started to come out.

Eventually we made it across.


I diverted across to the Ship Inn to check that my car was still in one piece – it was (phew!)


and then cut across to the Priory, the official end of the route


A Long Walk–Part 3


The third day of our walk was to be the longest leg. The stage from Wooler to Fenwick was 13 miles but as we were staying at the Lindisfarne Inn we had a couple of extra miles to walk along a minor road. It was a bright and sunny when we set out and it stayed like that for the rest of the day. The best weather we had during our walk.

Wooler is a small, pleasant town in the Northumberland National Park. It’s isolated position means that it isn’t swarming with tourists and it’s a little old fashioned, which isn’t a bad thing. Facilities are rather behind the times, though, and it’s a bit short of quality places to eat.

We bought ourselves supplies from one of the local bakeries that sold freshly made sandwiches and pies, and from the Co-op and set out on our way. The guidebook promised us that there were no steep climbs during this stage. Well, that wasn’t quite true as after leaving the outskirts of the town we had a steep climb up to a ridge that overlooked the town and the surrounding countryside


It was worth it. The views on this bright sunny day were outstanding.


The ridge rather reminded me of the gritstone ridges in the Derbyshire Peak District



At the end of the ridge we descended down to Weetwood crossing the old bridge over the River Till.


We then had a trek along several miles of minor roads and gravel farm tracks through pleasant rural countryside.


Walking on tarmac on a warm, sunny day with minimal shade made it a little hard going at times. But the scenery was beautiful.


At one point we came across a WWII pillbox by the side of the road. It was part of the defences built when Britain was threatened by invasion in 1940.


After 3 or 4 miles of road walking we came across St Cuthbert standing by the road!


There was a group of walkers taking a break and as it was about 1 o’clock by now it seemed like a good idea to do the same and eat our dinner. I took a group photo of ‘the Platoon’ by the statue and they returned the favour.

We’d started to come across groups of walkers since the second day. In most cases when they were overtaking us! Often we’d have a brief chat, exchange pleasantries and and swap stories. We’d then often bump into them again later during the walk, sometimes several times. That was the case with ‘the Platoon’ as we came across them a few times during the next couple of days.

Moving on, we had another stretch on a minor road,


eventually turning off and walking up through fields and along the edge of woodland until we came to St Cuthbert’s Cave



When the Vikings invaded Lindisfarne, the monks took St Cuthbert’s body in his coffin and took it on a journey across Northumbria.

once they’d spotted those dreaded dragonships crashing up and down on the roaring mists and foaming spray. They gathered up their most precious belongings and, taking the advice of their hallowed saint, the Community of St Cuthbert left their holy island for what was destined to be a seven-year journey that helped shape England and keep alight the flames of Christianity that were in imminent danger of being extinguished. (source)

This cave was allegedly one of the places they stopped

We stopped a while to talk to take a look at the cave and chatted with some other walkers who were taking a rest. This included ‘the Platoon’ (another group photo taken) and a trio of real pilgrims from Chester University.

There were some interesting ‘cave paintings’ painted on the roof of the cave.


Setting off again we climbed up towards the top of a ridge


from where we could see right down to the sea and our final objective, Holy Island.


The path then took us north through woodland for about 2 1/2 miles, finally descending into the village of Fenwick, which is just off the A1.This was the end of the stage in the guidebook, but not for us. We had now to head to the Lindisfarne Inn where we had rooms booked for the night. We avoided the busy main road by taking a quiet, narrow minor road which came out on to the A1 more or less opposite the Inn. We were tired by now and didn’t particularly enjoy this last couple of miles on tarmac not helped by my blood sugar dropping. We were glad to check in, get our boots off and take a welcome shower and a rest before eating.

A Long Walk–Part 2


The second day of our walk would take us from Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders back into England, over the Cheviot Hills across to Wooler in Northumbria.

We woke up to a bright, if windy, morning. Some rain was promised for later in the day but we had our waterproofs in our packs for when we needed them.

The Border Inn is the end (or start depending which way you’re going!) of the Pennine Way and for the first stretch St Cuthbert’s Way coincided with this rather longer route. I can now say I’ve been to both ends of the Pennine Way – only trouble is I haven’t done the bit in-between!

We set off across the Village Green


passing the “Gypsey Palace”


which at one time was occupied by the “Gypsy Monarch”, the head of the local Gypsy clans. Today, it’s a self catering holiday cottage.

We carried on along the quiet road up the hill. Looking down we had good views over the Bowmore valley across to England


and towards the Cheviot hills ahead of us


We were soon off the tarmac and heading up the path up the hills. We were still on the Pennine Way at this point but would soon be branching off.


Good views all around




Climbing steadily


we reached the border


After crossing moorland and traversing some boggy patches (the first of the walk as it had been very dry underfoot)


we entered a forest


Fortunately the path was well signposted. Otherwise it would have been easy to get lost.

After the forest we crossed a field down to a farm track which we followed for a mile or so until we reached the small hamlet at Hethpool. There’s been a settlement there since medieval times, but the current buildings were constructed in the early 20th century in the Arts and Crafts style for the Tyneside businessman Sir Arthur Munro Sutherland who bought the Hethpool estate with its 1294 acres as a sporting and farming country retreat.



We strayed off the official path slightly at this point to visit Hethpool Linn




The route now took us along the valley at the foot of the Cheviot hills




After about a mile and a half, just past Torleehouse farm, we turned right and began our ascent on to the moors climbing the pass between Yeavering Bell and Easter Tor.

Up until now we’d avoided the rain. We could see dark clouds and rain falling in adjacent valleys but our route had kept us away from us. But about half way up our climb it hit us. Time to put on the waterproofs. It rained intermittently as we crossed the grouse moors. But for most of the time it wasn’t too heavy and mainly hit us from behind rather than head on. So it didn’t really cause us a problem other than reducing visibility. Just as well as we had about a 4 mile traverse over exposed terrain before we would come down off the moors.


The Cheviot was shrouded in cloud.


The landscape here rather reminded me of the West Lancashire moors and the Forest of Bowland


Eventually we started to descend down towards Wooler. The rain had moved on and we were treated to some blue skies and sunshine


The route now did a ‘dogleg’ taking us through a forest


and then crossing fields

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before we finally reached the small Northumbrian town



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The first overnight stay of our ‘long walk’ was spent in Kirk Yetholm, a small, pleasant village just a mile from the border with England. The days are long in late May and early June and after we’d eaten we decided to take a stroll around the village.


The village is actually one of a pair of settlements divided by the  River Bowmont, with Town Yetholm on the other side of the river


In the 7th century the area was part of the Kingdom of Northumbria, but became firmly anchored in Scotland in the 11th century. There are various theories about the origin of the name Yetholm but the most common explanation is that it’s derivedfrom the  Old English language and probably means ‘Gatehouse Village’ due to it’s proximity to the border. Originally the centre of an agricultural community with some small scale textile production, according to the owner of the Border Inn, with whom we enjoyed a pleasant chat later in the evening while sitting outside with a drink, today the twin villages are dominated by retired people and holiday homes.

Kirk Yetholm is known as a ’gypsy village’ as it had a sizable community of gypsies who probably arrived in the area in the late seventeenth century. The local legend is that

during war with the French, at the siege of Namur, in 1695, a gypsy of the name of Young, saved the life of a British Officer, Captain David Bennet, who owned property in the Yetholm area. Accordingly, in gratitude for this deed, the Captain built cottages at Yetholm and leased them to the gypsies. (Scottish Gypsies website)

There’s a monument to the Gypsy community on the village green



During our chat with the owner of the Border Inn, he told us that the Gypsies weren’t allowed to enter the inn but had to purchase their beer through a window while standing outside. Prejudice against immigrants has deep roots, sadly. Today there isn’t a distinct Gypsy community as they have intermarried.

There were some very attractive houses in the village



Thatched cottages are unusual in Scotland, but there were a few in the twin villages. I think this one is a holiday cottage.


Walking down towards the river we reached the Kirk. The current building was constructed in 1836 in blue whinstone in a Scottish Baronial Gothic style. The site has probably been occupied by a parish Church for over 800 years.

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Being the evening we couldn’t look inside, but had a quick wander around the churchyard



Carrying on down the hill we passed the War Memorial – a Northumbrian Cross. We stopped to look and as is always the case there were a large number of local people from such a small community slaughtered during the First World War.


By the monument there was a good view towards the hills we’d crossed that afternoon


We crossed the bridge and walked up towards Town Yetholm. Another pleasant village centred on a village green with a very wide main street and well kept houses.






Another thatched cottage


and a pub


We strolled back down the hill, cutting across the meadow past the little pack horse bridge


returning to the Border inn to enjoy a last drink sitting outside on a pleasant evening, before turning in for a restful night’s sleep to prepare for the next leg of our walk.

A Long Walk–Part 1


On Bank Holiday Monday we set out on a long walk. We’d been planning it for a while ever since one of our relatives in the North East mentioned that he fancied tackling St Cuthbert’s Way – a long distance trail starting at Melrose in the Scottish Borders and finishing with a walk along the causeway to Holy Island (Lindisfarne) off the coast of Northumberland. The talk soon turned into a firm intention for me and my wife to join D and his wife J to tackle the trail. Unfortunately it was difficult to find a time slot that would suit all of us so in the end we weren’t able to walk the full distance, instead, starting about a third of the way along at Morebattle. The trip was organised by D who did a good job of sorting out accommodation along the route.

The 60 mile route links several sites associated with St Cuthbert who was a 7th Century monk, bishop and hermit, in the kingdom of Northumbria which at that time covered a large part of the Scottish Borders as well most of Northern England (including modern day Northumbria, Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire). He began his monastic career at Melrose Abbey 650AD, and later became the Abbot at Lindisfarne Priory. After his death he became one of the most important medieval saints of Northern England, with a cult centred on his tomb at Durham Cathedral.

The route is well waymarked throughout. We hardly needed to refer to a map to find our way (although it would not be advisable to tackle any route like this without one).


The walking itself was very varied.  We started in the Cheviot hills and during our two half days and two full days of walking, walked over rounded hills, along riversides, through forests, over bleak moorland, through pastoral scenery and over a causeway across the sea.

We took the soft option of getting a company to transport our bags, only needing to carry a day sack with coat, fleece, food and drink (plus maps, guidebook, compass etc.) The main problem was sorting out how to get to the start and then back home at the end. It is possible to use public transport but that wasn’t that easy for us. However, D managed to make arrangements for us to leave a car at either end. So on a grey Bank Holdiay morning we drove from Sunderland (where our relatives live) up to Lindisfarne, stopping for a brew at the Beal Barn, just before the causeway,and then over to the island where I left my car at the hotel where we’d be staying at the end of our walk. We then loaded ourselves and our gear into D’s car and set out to Morebattle, an hour’s drive away. On the way, we dropped our bags at the Border Inn in Kirk Yeltholm where we would be spending our first night.

Morebattle is a small village in the Scottish Borders, seven miles south of Kelso. We set off shortly after midday. The weather was better than at the coast, but there was a threat of rain.

We passed the old church which is being renovated by a dedicated couple. They have a café where walkers (and motorists) can stop for refreshments.


Initially following the quiet road out of the village heading towards the Cheviot hills

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we soon had to start climbing up towards Wideopen Hill, the highest point on the route.P5291503



It was a bit of a grey day, and we had a couple of showers, (although they didn’t last long) but there were great views of nearby hills





After a short, steep stretch, we reached the summit of Wideopen Hill


We stopped for a short while for refreshments and to take some photographs and then set off again – it was mainly downhill from now on towards Kirk Yeltholm.


Eventually we reached the bottom of the hill and after a short stretch on a quiet road we headed down a track


that took us to the path along the river heading for our first destination.


After crossing the bridge that separates Town Yeltholm from Kirk Yeltholm


Not far now, through some pleasant riverside meadows


Past the old narrow packhorse bridge. There used to be a mill race running under it at one time, but now it looks a little odd stranded above dry land!


Past the old schoolhouse which is now a hostel for walkers


across the village green was our destination, the Border Hotel, where we had rooms booked for the night.


As well as being on the St Cuthbert’s Way, the hotel and pub is the official end of the Pennine Way.


A relatively short stretch of walking, but challenging in it’s own way as we had to climb up to the highest point of the route. So time for a bath for some of us and a shower for me to get ready for a tasty evening meal in the restaurant.