St Cuthbert Way to Holy Isle
One of the most beautiful of Scotland’s Great Trails, begins in Melrose in the Scottish Borders, where St. Cuthbert started his religious life in 650 AD and runs 100 km by riverbank, hills and moors to finally cross the causeway to the island at low tide.
Lindisfarne - Holy Island, is regarded as the holiest place in northern England. This long-distance walking route follows in the footsteps of St Cuthbert, stretching some 100km / 62.5 miles across the Scottish Borders to the Northumberland Coast of England.
The start point is the Scottish Borders town of Melrose, south of Edinburgh and easily accessed by train. This was the location of St Cuthbert's early monastic life. The Way tracks the chronological sequence of the Saint from his earlier days in Old Melrose to his later life on Lindisfarne - the Holy Island.
Holy Island is reached on foot by crossing a tidal causeway at certain times of day and is subject to periodic closure in rhythm with the tides.
The St Cuthbert Way can be divided into 4, 5, 6 or 7 days with stopping points at places such as Maxton, Cessford, Hethpool and East Horton and Fenwick. We will tailor the route to suit your requirements.
Please note that the Fenwick stop may be required for reason of tidal times on the causeway to Holy Island.
We will advise you of our recommendation for the preferred time to cross.
DAY 1 - Melrose to Harestanes 25.6 km / 16 miles
From the gates of Melrose Abbey, the path takes you over the saddle of the Eildon Hills - one of the most recognised Scottish Borders landmarks. Proceeding south to Bowden is you have wide open views over the Cheviot. The route passes through Newtown St Boswells where you spend a delightful couple of hours walking along the banks of the Tweed.
Join an ancient path called "Dere Street" - a famous Roman road running north between York & the River Forth. The end of the walk reaches the woodlands of the HarestanesVisitor and Nature Centre, with accommodation in the nearby.
DAY 2 - Harestanes to Yetholm 27 km /16.5 miles
A strenuous day with at least 6 hours walking back on Dere Street heading south, to cross the Teviot River and Jedwater. You go over the highest and midway point of St Cuthberts Way (50km) at the summit of Wideopen Hill. The path skirts woods of pine and silver birch, with dramatic views north over the Teviot Valley and the Eildons visible in the distance.
The final stages of the walk take you past the Romany Marsh a small wildlife reserve. The twin villages of Town & Kirk Yetholm are the home of the Scottish Gypsies, traced back to James V and the Gypsie Palace still remains and is passed tomorrow.
DAY 3 Yetholm to Wooler 21 km / 13 miles
The Scottish route continues for 2 miles before crossing the Border into the Northumberland National Park. Climbing gently from Kirk Yetholm, the route passes the Scotland - England border marker and slowly descends to Hethpool. Then a slow climb of Yeavering Bell and Easter Tor which traces it's history back to around St Cuthbert's time when Paulinus was said to have brought Christianity to the community. The path then descends through the forest into Wooler where the walk ends in a small market town in the Glendale area with hotels, B&Bs and plenty of shops.
DAY 4 Wooler to Fenwick 19 km / 12 miles
The final section from Wooler proceeds east through a conservation area, with significant prehistoric remains. Then on to the National Trust Woods near to St Cuthbert's Cave. This cave is where the body of St Cuthbert was brought by the Monks in 875 as they escaped the invading Danes.
From the Cave, it's only 5 minutes to the top of the Greensheen Hill and on a clear day you can pick out the Holy Island and the causeway to the NE and south to Bamburgh Castle with the Farne Islands off-shore.
This part of the Northumberland coast has been designated an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. St. Cuthbert's Way joins here with St. Oswald's Way, leading you towards the village of Fenwick. Here you will take an overnight pause to await the low tides and the chance to walk the sands to reach your island destination.
DAY 5 Fenwick to Holy Island
From Fenwick the Way now proceeds to the coast, crossing the main east coast railway line and past World War 2 coastal defences. Once you cross the railway line you arrive at the Beal end of the causeway. Once you reach the Causeway at low tide you can choose your final approach to Lindisfarne -
A) By the Causeway Road across to Holy Island - known as the Shell Road.
B) Follow the posts of the historic Pilgrims Path across the sands. Be prepared to cross with bare feet or have some wellingtons.
The Priory is the end of this walk and at the heart of the community.
Lindisfarne is still regarded as the holiest place in England and attracts most visitors by car.
There is also the Castle perched high on Castle Point t(currently undergoing a major refurbishment), but you can visit the Gertrude Jekyll Garden and an interesting Nature Reserve.
PLEASE NOTE:- I
t is possible to walk from Wooler to Lindisfarne in one day. But we will have to account for the timing of the tides as the Causeway and Pilgrims Path are closed for significant periods every day.
The Pilgrims Path over the sands remains under water for up to 4 hours extra per tidal cycle. We will provide you with safe crossing times according to your dates.
Edinburgh - Scotland's Capital
Scotland's capital city is also the leading festival city in the world, home to the phenomenal summer festivals. Also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is packed with history; of course, the imposing castle, the medieval tenements and narrow wynds of the Old Town and the elegant architecture of the Georgian New Town.
Sightseeing in Edinburgh is pretty easy, the Royal Palace of Holyrood and the prehistoric extinct volcano Arthur's Seat are at the other end of the Royal Mile. Edinburgh is great for bar and café culture, nightlife, the classic and contemporary art scene, historic monuments and urban parks
Your first stage is Melrose, lying at the feet of the Eildon Hills in the Tweed Valley. This is the birthplace of Rugby Sevens in 1883, now an international tournament, with teams from New Zealand, South Africa, England, France and Portugal.
Ruined Melrose Abbey dates from 1136. A casket discovered believed to contain the heart of Robert the Bruce was marked by a re-burial ceremony and commemorative stone tablet.
The Roman army arrived in AD79 and built a major fort nearby named Trimontium. The Three Hills Roman Heritage Centre houses the Trimontium Museum which is dedicated to Roman life in Scotland.
Lindisfarne - The Holy Island
This was Britain's epicentre of Christianity in Anglo Saxon times and Lindisfarne Priory was once the home of St Oswald. This serene setting was the birthplace of the Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the world's most precious religious books.
Holy Island remains a place of pilgrimage today and the island is the final destination of your walk.
Celebrated architect Edward Lutyens renovated and restyled the Castle, turning it into a comfortable but quirky holiday home - and open to visitors.
Food & Drink
Scotland prides itself on a hearty breakfast. Our accommodations specialise in a full cooked breakfast with sausage, bacon, eggs and vegetable garnishes.
Porridge is the traditional favourite, along with cereals, pastries, fruits and yoghurts juices and hot beverages.
Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs is another popular favourite.
You won't be setting off feeling hungry...
This is a rural trail and you will need to carry sustenance in your day pack. On certain days you will coincide with village cafes and pubs. Other times, you do well to pre-order a packed lunch from your accommodation or shop locally for picnic items.
3-course dinners are widely available, often featuring local Scottish dishes from the salmon rivers and farmlands of the Scottish Borders and plentiful fish from the seas around Scotland.
You might like to round off your day with a dram of Scotch malt whisky.
We pick the best accommodation available, from a selection of Bed & Breakfast, Guesthouses and Hotels.
All provide a traditional full Scottish breakfast.
We always endeavour to ensure en-suite accommodation, depending on the demand at your time of booking.
Our baggage transfer service will transport your luggage each day by vehicle, so all you will need to carry is your day pack.
This really does make a significant difference to your enjoyment.
We recommend a night in Melrose before setting off on the trail. This will allow ease of bag collection by 9 am and a fresh start to your first day on the trail.
You can also take a walk out to the site of old Roman Melrose, where there is an ongoing archaeological dig and information on the early beginnings of Melrose.
Fly into Glasgow or Edinburgh Airports.
Regular train connections to Melrose from Edinburgh.
Return transfer from Holy Island to Edinburgh by train or to Newcastle which has a railway station and airport.