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