A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick
I first encountered St Cuthbert’s Way while, accidentally, walking on it. This is because the walk shares a route for several miles with the Northumberland Coast Walk and so, in 2011, I learned of the existence of this 63 mile-long Scottish-English route on the next-to-last stage of the NCW – as Tosh Lee and I made our way into the village of Fenwick accompanied by a new set of waymarks. Additional research convinced me that the route, which begins in Melrose in the Scottish Borders and finishes at Holy Island off the Northumberland Coast, would be one that would have a special interest for my friend and former student, Gavan, who has undertaken a number of pilgrimage routes in the last few years and would be particularly inspired by covering territory well-known to the 7th Century monk whose life is honored in the route’s name. I knew as well that he would be interested in the many ecclesiastical ruins – those at either end of the route and at Dryburgh and Jedburgh just off-route.
St Cuthbert’s Way passes through some very lovely countryside as it moves from west to east, switching from Scotland to England as it crosses the Cheviot crest at the famous border fence. For us this transition took place on the fifth day of a seven-day trip; I know some people accomplish the task in a five or six days. There is a lot of up and down and this can be strenuous but none of the ascents go on for long and so there are plenty of places, amid spectacular views, to gain one’s breath. If you have never undertaken a long-distance walk you may find some clues on how to prepare for such an outing in my A Walker’s Alphabet, Adventures on the Long-Distance Paths of Great Britain, available either from the publishers, AuthorHouse or through Amazon or any of the other on-line booksellers. In this volume I offer some hints on how to research accommodation possibilities. These days we let a walking specialist do all these arrangements and ferry our bags forward for us as well. In 2015, when we walked the route, this was done for us by the ever-reliable Celtic Trails. Some Internet research will reveal a number of printed guides and maps devoted to the route. If you prefer to follow your progress on the Ordnance Survey’s Explorer series you would want sheets 338 (Galashiels, Selkirk & Melrose), OL 16 (The Cheviot Hills) and 340 (Holy Island and Bamburgh).
We found that St Cuthbert’s Way was well way-marked throughout its course – so there were few if any route-finding problems. Its ever-changing terrain and its striking visual beauty make it a real walker’s treasure. You can always let me know how you got on by using the Contact Page.
Our stages were: