Start/Finish: Kirk Yetholm To Lindisfarne
Terrain: Grassy/boggy hill paths then farm tracks & quiet roads
Transport: Munro's buses serves Kirk Yetholm. Berwick-upon-Tweed is stop on main East coast train line, with shuttle buses to Lindisfarne (Mon - Sat)
Route: Route Map
St. Cuthbert's Way Stages: Prev  2
The "other" half of the St. Cuthbert's Way starts in the Cheviot Hills, leaving them behind at Wooler and crossing moors and flood-plains to St. Cuthbert's cave, eventually dropping via woodland and fields to the North Sea and onto the Holy Island (either using the pilgrim's path direct over the sand, or the causeway, depending on tide and will).
A rare, exotic blog post since most of the second half of St. Cuthbert's Way is abroad in England. Just two and a half hours of jogging over the Cheviots since breakfast, and I was hearing Geordie. Fantastic!
We'd enjoyed a good evening at the Border Hotel - nice food, seem to be the place to go around here. Waking up this morning, the wind was battering the window of the B&B and a peek through the curtains revealed an ominous low cloud-base and general darkness across the valley. My dad & I ate our breakfast leisurely, and the hostess did much to help us plan our day ahead, even coming through with her laptop and printing off maps. She'd had a group of guests the week before who'd just finished "the Spine" footrace - i.e. the 268mile length of the Pennine Way. I'm glad there are nutters like that in the world.
|Start/End of Pennine Way, Border Hotel behind|
The plan was to meet back up with ground control a.k.a. dad at Wooler, 13 miles from Kirk Yetholm across the border, have a coffee there, then later in the afternoon try and meet up again somewhere around St. Cuthbert's Cave given there was a car-park and walks in the area for my dad. The tide timetables for the Holy Island causeway looked favourable, it would more likely be daylight that would force a schedule here.
|Goodbye to the Pennine Way|
Within minutes of leaving the Pennine Way behind, I was at border control - which currently comprises a stone wall on the crest of a ridge, but plenty ancient hill forts around to remind us how rare a moment in history this is to have such laxity! From the border it was downhill towards a forest - that's where you're supposed to go if following the official way, I missed the sign obviously, and accidentally tresspassed along sheep paths to the N side of the Elsdon Burn (a burn, in England?). Realising my mistake I was able to rejoin the correct route after the trees.
|Descending to the Elsdon Burn - you're supposed to go through the trees|
|Following Elsdon Burn down to Hethpool|
|Newton Tors, Nothumberland|
After threatening to follow a road down off the hills St. Cuthbert's Way suddenly veers right, quite steeply up grassy hillside, eventually onto heather moors behind 361m Yeavering Bell (with its necklace of stones, being another ex-hill-fort). The expanse and relative flatness of this high area reminded me a bit of the North Yorks Moors, although the snowy bulk of the Cheviot gave things away a bit.
|"Burn" after the goats and marshy bit|
|300m up on Black Law, Cheviot in background, not far from Wooler...|
|Before Wooler, looking W back towards Yeavering Bell|
The way drops steeply N off Weetwood moor through a bracken-filled nursery of trees, the bracken dead and brown just now but could be interesting in mid-Summer I'd imagine. From up here there was a great view of the impressive Weetwood Bridge.
|Looking N to Weetwood bridge from the edge of Weetwood Moor|
A long stretch of road and farm-track followed, the Cheviots were left behind now but it certainly wasn't flat country, up, down, up, down, zig-zagging towards St. Cuthbert's Cave. The way resorted to fields, some well-and-truly "divotted" by cows, and it was back to mud and a slow pace heading towards the forested hillside of "Cockenheugh" which hosts St. Cuthbert's Cave, and at this moment in time, my dad. We met up along the nice track through the trees heading NNW. My dad was as aware as I was of the race-against-daylight that was going on here, and started jogging along too. Pity I didn't really give the caves a proper visit, but at least my dad got to.
|St. Cuthbert's Cave|
From the high area of Holburn Moss (well that's what its called on the map) I was now looking over the coast, and in spite of the cloud coming back in, Holy Island was clearly visible below. Although the way did make a V-turn away from it to take in Shiellow Wood. The route through the trees was nice, although missing a critical sign at one point where a narrow trail cuts away from the forest road where it approaches a house - I guessed my way onto that trail and followed the muddy route down and out of the trees and back onto field-edges, eventually onto a road downhill into the village of Fenwick (no services) where my dad was parked and waiting. Just over 5 miles to go, most of those on the causeway/island, plenty daylight left, all good!
Changed into shorts and ditched the bag and trail shoes so I could pick the pace up a few gears. Felt brilliant to bound over the A1 and along the tarmac beyond which I naively hoped would take me all the way to Lindisfarne. Instead a fingerpost sent me up a mud-ramp which was hard enough standing still on never mind moving forwards), then across a pond (i.e., presently flooded field), then down the side of ploughed fields to cross the East Coast Mainline (very busy - two trains went speeding by in opposite directions as I approached). The causeway was very close from here.
|My dad gives me a head-start onto the causeway. 3.5miles to go...|
|Looking from Holy Is. The posts across the sand are the "Pilgrims Path"|
|Lindisfarne Priory (Castle behind)|
St. Cuthbert's Way Stages: Prev  2