St Cuthbert's Way is a new long-distance path established in 1996. It extends from Melrose in the Scottish borders to the island of Lindisfarne just off the coast of Nortumberland in north-east England, linking places associated with St Cuthbert. It includes a variety of delightful and quite unspoilt countryside: the Tweed valley (origin of the famous woollen cloth), the Eildon Hills, the Cheviot Hills (origin of one of the most famous breeds of sheep), and the Northumberland coast with its broad horizons, sandy beaches, and dramatic contrasts between high and low tide.
The small historic towns en route - Melrose, Jedburgh and Wooler - are equally unspoilt and offer a pleasant contrast with the thinly populated countryside. There is an abundance of historical remains including ruined abbeys at Melrose, Jedburgh and Lindisfarne. The standard route is intended to be walkable in 4 long days, but several modifications can be made to make the average length of day shorter. A second night spent in Melrose enables the intervening day to be spent on a circular walk over the Eildon hills and back along the banks of the Tweed; a short detour enables us to spent a night in Jedburgh; and a night on Lindisfarne. With Sherpa it is possible to extend the tour back on the mainland to the beautiful village of Bamburgh overlooked by its grand castle before following the coast to end finally near Craster.
Most important however is to plan the route so that you cross onto Lindisfarne, and leave it, when there are favourable low tides: Phone: 01289 330733 for the tide time tables for your specific dates. If you are not staying on the island, beware the tides... Camping is not permitted!
Stage 1: Melrose to Harestanes/Jedburgh27kms/17miles Max Ascent:
The first day may come as a sharp shock for those who have got to get used to walking, it's just about the longest walk! With the ascent between the Eildon Hills (Climbing of one of them is recommended) as an appropriate warm up, before walking along by the Tweed. A visit to Dryburgh Abbey is a possibility. Soon after the pretty village of Maxton you join the Roman Road at Dere Street, which takes you to near to the Harestanes Visitors centre where a cup of tea maybe in order. Due to limited accommodation in the area it maybe worthwhile to walk the extension (off route) into Jedburgh.
Day 2: Harestanes /Jedburgh to Kirk Yetholm27kms/17miles Max Ascent:
Either walk or take a taxi back to the point that you left yesterday, whether it is Harestanes, Dere Street or Jedburgh Bridge. Today's undulating walk takes you pass the ancestral home of the Kerrs, over the highest point on the route at Wideopen Hill and down to the interesting Cheviot town of Kirk Yetholm.
Day 3: Kirk Yetholm to Wooler21kms/13miles Max Ascent:
It is time to cross over into England and leave the hills for the start of the rolling lands of Northumberland. This is a great scenic walk ending up at the old English market town of Wooler. Please note that there are no refreshments available en route between Kirk Yetholm and Wooler, and please be prepared in case of bad weather.
Day 4: Wooler to Lindisfarne 28kms/17.5miles Max Ascent:
An interesting day full of variety and beauty, taking you up for the last time up onto the Northumberland moors, up to St. Cuthbert's Cave, through woods and then down to the sea, reaching the Lindisfarne Causeway to take you over to the island. Of course you have done your homework to ensure that the tides will be in your favour, haven't you....HAVEN'T YOU? The Causeway road to Holy Island: Starting from: 23Km In the car park here, safe crossing times are displayed. You should be familiar with these before you start the walk and the walk dates should coincide with days when the tides are in your favour. It will thus be safe to follow the causeway road onto the island. The road takes the shortest route to the island, crossing the bridge over South Low, then over the sands to the Snook, the Western end of the island. It then keeps to the edge of the dunes to Chare Ends, the entrance to Holy Island Village. During high winds, blown sand will really sting exposed legs, and make sure that cameras / binoculars are well protected. The old Pilgrim's route, marked by a line of poles, crosses the sands directly from the bridge to Chare Ends.If you intend to use the Pilgrim's path across the sands to reach or return from the island, beware that the sands are covered by water for a much longer period than the causeway. You should aim to cross during the middle of the safe period to avoid deep water on the route. You should cross barefoot or with sandles, as water remains on the sands even at low tide. Join the Pilgrim's route after crossing the bridge over South Low, taking a line from the refuge box, following the series of posts going due East following terra (fairly) firma over the sand flats. (The pilgrim's route from the refuge box, is 2 miles / 3.5 km to the island, so if you are pressed for time it is better to err on the side of caution and take the road across . Do not be tempted to stray far from the posts, in case of quicksands).
Day 5: Lindisfarne to Bamburgh 20kms/12miles Max Ascent:
(Please note that there are no more waymarks on this extension once you are off the islands, look for footpath signs instead, and stay close to the coastline, on roads, paths and footpaths some of which are owned by the National Trust,. The way should be very clear on your OS maps). If you do want to do the extension Hopefully you also have your timings correct for recrossing back from the island to the mainland again. It is an excellent day for bird watching at certain times of the year. The walking is almost flat, and depending on the tides you could complete alot of it walking along the beach. The best viewing opportunities are on the Fenham flats, and the Budle bay nature reserve. Bamburgh itself is one of the most dramatic and romantic castles in the country, sitting on a crag on the beach. There is a museum here, a couple of pubs and the remains of a friary.
Day 6: Bamburgh to Craster via Seahouses and Beadnell17kms/10.5miles Max Ascent:
Today you must decide whether or not you are going to do the walk to Craster, via the dramatic castle of Dunstanburgh (it is quite a short walking day) or whether you are going to go to Seahouses and do a boat trip. Timing the day's events is critical as the boat trip to the Farne Islands is governed by the tides. Boat trips: If you have decided to try this you will need to take the Bus Service 501 to Seahouses. This leaves from Bamburgh e Grove) Mondays to Fridays: 0911, 0951, 1031, & 1201 arriving at Seahouses about 8 minutes later. Saturdays: 1001, 1031, 1201, & 1231. Sundays: 1144... Or you could walk! It is worth checking locally, because sometimes rural bus time tables can be erratic.
By Car: Melrose is on the A6091 road to Galashiels in Scotland; it is also just off of the A7 from Hawick. It is possible to park at Melrose, leave the car there (at your own risk), do the tour and then come back to the town by bus from Lindisfarner, Craster or Bamburgh via Berwick bus station to connect with Lowland Buses service 60 direct to Melrose. Details of local bus services can be found at traveline.info
By Coach: Melrose is served by the National Express service Wrexham to Perth (via Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle) and the Scottish Citylink service, Newcastle to Aberdeen. Most people using Nat. Express will probably be coming from Victoria station in London, and will need to change at one of the above stations. On the return it is easiest to leave from Newcastle (if returning to London), having got the train from Alnmouth station. For details of National Express Coach services visit nationalexpress.com
From Airports: From Edinburgh airport bus/taxi to city centre bus station, then bus to Melrose. From Newcastle airport take the Metro to Newcastle central station, then train to Berwick-on-Tweed, then bus from train station to Melrose. From Glasgow airport, bus to Edinburgh bus station then bus to Melrose. From Prestwick, train to Glasgow central station then train to Edinburgh and bus to Melrose. It is about 15 minutes walk or a short taxi ride between Edinburgh Waverley train station and the central bus station in St Andrews Square. From London airports train/underground to London Kings Cross train station, then train to Berwick-on-Tweed, then bus from train station to Melrose.
By Train: Mainline trains run from London Kings Cross to Berwick and then on to Edinburgh about 25 mins later. You should check times locally and it is recommended to book up a seat in advance so that you can get a seat reservation. If you do not do this, but still have a valid ticket, your ticket will be honoured but you will have to look for a seat that has not been reserved with a white ticket in the slot above the seat headrest.
Please note that for all up to date British passenger rail timetables and fares you can ring 08457 48 49 50 (24 hours, at local call rate). Or nationalrail.co.uk
Departure: From Holy Island there is a limited bus service which can connect to Berwick Upon Tweed for Mainline rail and bus services. If you are doing the extension walk and walking on to
Craster, then the best solution maybe to hire a taxi from Craster to go to Alnmouth rail station in order to join a London or Edinburgh train. There is also a bus service back to
Berwick, from where you can return to Melrose if you have left your car there.