In the footsteps of St Cuthbert

SONY DSCSt Cuthbert’s Way – In a land that came to be known as the cradle of christianity in the north it’s hardly surprising to find a major saint or two.

The Scottish Borders and Northumbrian was home to towering figures from the church’s early beginnings including, from the 6th century onwards, the triumverate of St Aidan, St Boisil and St Cuthbert.

All three men lived and worshipped at Melrose monastery, providing inspiration for successive generations of converts to the Christian cause.

But it was St Cuthbert (circa 634 – 687) who was destined to become the best known and best loved Anglo Saxon saint.

From Melrose he moved to Lindisfarne or Holy Island just off the Northumberland coast. A large part of his life was spent contemplation as a hermit on the island of Inner Farne. He was persuaded to take on the role of bishop for a time but returned to Inner Farne where he died.

But for Cuthbert his story was just about to start. His grave on Lindisfarne became a place of pilgrimage and associated with miracles of healing.

Lindisfarne monastery became a target for raiding Vikings and the monks decided to remove Cuthbert’s body – and the famous Lindisfarne Gospels – to the mainland. It was c875AD and the start of a 100-year trek in search of a final resting place for Cuthbert.

The former Roman town of Chester-le-Street was used for a time before the monks and Cuthbert settled in Durham. Today St Cuthbert’s tomb is the centrepiece of Durham Cathedral.

His name is remembered for many reasons in the Scottish Borders and Northumberland – not least for the 62-mile walk from Melrose to Lindisfarne that commemorates his name.

St Cuthbert’s Way, which links much of the Christian heritage of the region, is one of Scotland Great Trails and takes in stunning countryside as it makes its way to Harestanes, Morebattle, across the border to the northern part of Northumberland National Park to Wooler and down to the coast and Lindisfarne.

Explore the Borders is delighted to signpost readers to a new St Cuthbert’s Way website developed as part of the St. Cuthbert’s Way Development Project.  It offers a wealth of information about the route and a new booklet of associated short walks.

It’s hoped these walks will enhance and improve walking opportunities for local communities and visitors. They are also aimed at allowing families and day visitors to enjoy short walks on the St Cuthbert’s Way.

The journey continues at www.stcuthbertsway.info

Above: St Cuthbert’s Way in all its glory – picture Keith Robeson.

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