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St Cuthbert's Leg - this group has been merged into Haddington Leg for 2013, but you can still book a place on another Leg, click here for details
From Melrose to Holy Island through the Scottish borders
St Cuthbert's Leg starts in Melrose on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, following St Cuthbert's Way for approximately 70 miles as it winds 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 retreat with more emphasis on prayer, meditation and song, better suited to adults wishing to pursue a pilgrimage away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
We start at Melrose where Cuthbert entered his novitiate in 651AD. 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 ten 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 descend to the small settlement of Kirknewton with its church built to withstand the border raiders and a new combined Village Hall and Visitor Centre.
From Kirknewton 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 where we finish our day's walking. We are then taken to Chatton to spend the night before being taken back to St Cuthbert's Cave the following morning to continue on walking.
From just above St Cuthbert's Cave on Good Friday we get our first views of our destination before continuing through Fenwick to the coast and meeting 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.