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Melrose Leg - this route has been mothballed for the moment (see notes below) but you can still book a place on another Leg, click here for details
From Melrose to Holy Island through the Scottish borders
[update; June 2015] Due to problems in securing a leadership team for this route in 2016, and the early date of next Easter, the Northern Cross Steering Committee meeting in June 2015 decided to mothball the Leg for the forthcoming year - Holy Week 2016. This was a hard decision taken after much consideration, but ultimately it was the most appropriate choice for the moment. We express sincere and grateful thanks to all the communities we have been a part of along the way, through all the variations of St Cuthbert's and Melrose Legs, and hope to return once again another year.
[The route as it was last walked in 2015 is described below]
Melrose Leg starts in Melrose on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, partly following St Cuthbert's Way as well as other routes, for slightly under 70 miles through the Scottish borders. We walk mainly off road carrying the cross for about ten miles a day. The shorter distance helps the slower walker but make no mistake, it sometimes seems that it's all uphill. This is a walking experience of friendship, challenge, song, prayer, and some meditation, giving a break away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Melrose is where St Cuthbert entered his novitiate in 651AD. We go through the town past the Abbey, down a little path between two houses (It's not really somebody's back garden) on to the slopes of the Eildon hills and then the uphill starts. Thank goodness it's only nine miles. Take heart it's all downhill for the second half of the first day, before reaching Maxton and our first nights stop.
Once we leave Maxton we follow Dere Street for much of today, a muddy track rather than the well built Roman Road of 2000 years ago. Harestanes fort is just off our route with a detour around Monteviot House and a pedestrian suspension bridge over the Tweed keeping our feet dry. The day finishes at Jedburgh Abbey.
Then from Jedburgh our way to Morebattle is by the ruins of Cessford Castle, once the stronghold of Reiver family the Kers.
After leaving Morebattle we have some really wild country to traverse. Until we reach Wooler signs of civilisation are few and far between. A stiff climb takes us up Wideopen Hill which is not only the high point of the week it is also the midway point. Is it all down hill from here?
We leave Town Yetholm and follow the Pennine way for a while before crossing the border and traverse hills above Kirknewton, descending to Akeld. From there we backtrack (via support vehicle) to the small settlement of Kirknewton for our nightstops accommodation. Here we stay in a new combined Village Hall and Visitor Centre, and can admire the church built to withstand the border raiders with its church built to withstand the border raiders.
Starting again from Akeld we climb up to St Cuthbert's way along
the side of Yeaverring Bell, one of the ancient hill forts that litter
this area. It was reputedly the site of a palace of King Edwin of Northumberland.
We walk across the grouse moors before dropping down to Wooler and continuing on to St Cuthbert's Cave and will aim to go on to Fenwick - a total of 15 miles. From just above St Cuthbert's Cave we will have also had the first views
of our final destination!
We are then taken by support car to Chatton to spend the night before being taken back to Fenwick the following morning to continue on walking.
From Fenwick we continue to the coast and meet the other legs. Then it is a simple matter of crossing the sands together following the poles of the old Pilgrim route - before the tide catches us.
See the St.Cuthbert's Way website http://www.stcuthbertsway.fsnet.co.uk for more information on the route.