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St Cuthbert's Way - Berwick Walking Festival

St Cuthbert's Way - Berwick Walking Festival

Thu 23rd April 2015

It was a pleasure to lead (most) of St Cuthbertís Way for Shepherds Walks during the Berwick Walking Festival in April 2015.

The 100 km or 62 mile route took 6 days from Saturday 11th April to Thursday 16th April. The route begins in Melrose and ends on Holy Island and winds its way through the best scenery of the Borders of Scotland and Northumberland. The great attraction of the route if the variety of terrain and scenery from rolling countryside to dramatic mountains and beautiful coastal views.

Day 1.  Melrose to St Boswells

The feature of today was the Eildon Hills which are an obvious feature as they dominate the skyline above Melrose. A sharp climb from the Abbey in Melrose took us to the saddle between the the North and Middle Hills, followed by a gentle walk through the forest to Bowden then through Newtown St Boswells to the banks of the beautiful River Tweed at Dryburgh where there is a glimpse of the Abbey though the trees. The end of the day came quickly as we walked into St Boswells for the bus back to Berwick. 7 miles completed today.

Day 2. St Boswells to Jedfoot Bridge.

Today was a rest day for me. Jon led this day which unfortunately was rainy for most of the morning although the sun came out for the afternoon. The main feature of todays route is the walk along Dere Street, the old Roman road. Today 12 miles were covered.

Day 3. Jedfoot Bridge to Kirk Yetholm.

This was the longest day of the journey which starts along Dere Street but soon turns off the zigzag across fields and by forests to Morebattle. Leaving the village having already covered 8 – 9 miles the challenge of Grubbit Law (326m) and Wideopen Hill (369m), the highest point of St Cuthbertís Way, present them selves. This steep and more rugged terrain is a test of resolve especially as the weather was threatening again. After coming off the hills the 3 mile trek to Kirk Yetholm saw some weary folk gratefully climb on to the bus. 16 miles and 8 hours of walking today.

Day 4. Kirk Yetholm to Wooler.

Today is not the longest but it is the most arduous because it contains two long climbs into the remote hills of the Cheviots. We had a strong wind all day but it was behind us and helped to push us up the hills. The first stage of today took us from Kirk Yetholm up Green Humbleton to the border ridge and then the long descent to Hethpool at the base of College Valley. Stage 2 took us up the side of Yeavering Bell with its Iron Age Hill Forts atop past Tom Tallonís Crag to Gains Law and then the long but gentle descent to Wooler Common. We made good time so completed the day by walking through Wooler to pick up the bus on the edge of the town. 13.5 miles and 7.5 hours of walking today.

Day 5. Wooler to Fenwick.

A spectacular day.

The route starts by climbing over Weetwood Moor east of Wooler before a steep descent to Weetwood Bridge and a bit of road walking through the Horton villages. From this point on the terrain is gentler and bright sunshine helped to bring the fields alive with colour as we made our way towards St Cuthbertís Cave. This impressive rock feature is the highlight of St Cuthbertís Way for many walkers. The walk into Fenwick through the woodland provides glimpses of the coast and the end of the route on Holy Island. 12.4 miles and 6.5 hours of walking today.

Day 6. Fenwick to Holy Island.

The main concern of this final section is the tide times. Today the crossing to Holy Island was safe between 4.30 and 11.25am. So we had an early start leaving Berwick at 6am. The walking was easy across the fields and onto the causeway to Holy Island. The air temperature was close of freezing but there was no wind or clouds so the sun shone and provided a wonderful spectacle as Holy Island drew closer. A great end to a great walk. 6 .4 miles walked today.

The entire route measured 67.3 miles.

Chris Constable

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