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St Cuthbert’s Way is a historical self-guided walking tour through the Scottish Borders and Northumberland countryside. It finishes with a memorable walk across coastal flats to spectacular Holy Island, one of Europe’s most famous Christian sites.
During your adventure, you will visit places closely associated with St Cuthbert’s life. Pilgrim’s travel along the way-marked trail through rolling farmland, quiet woods, moorland and across a causeway. This route lends itself to visitors who are interested in religious history as it passes close to the elegant ruins of Dryburgh Abbey (where Sir Walter Scott is buried) and the cave where St Cuthbert’s remains were stored. Finish with a walk across the sands to spectacular Holy Island and Lindisfarne, where St Cuthbert served as Bishop.
Alison Chino, an American writer living in Scotland, published this great article on walking the St Cuthbert's Way, read it for an insight into the experience.
We offer a number of different itineraries on the St Cuthbert's Way, each of which is made up of the following sections.
Arrive in Melrose a pretty market town in the Scottish Borders, with more than enough interesting sites to keep you happy for a few hours. Melrose Abbey is the centrepiece of the town and operated by Historic Scotland, while the Priorwood Walled Garden and Trimontium Exhibition are also worth a visit.
The day starts with a steep climb of the Eildon Hills, which is rewarded by fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. You may also choose to climb from the saddle to the summit at 422m if you are feeling energetic. From the saddle, the way drops steadily through Bowden and then along Bowden Burn to Newton St Boswells, which has refreshments available. Shortly after leaving the town, you re-join the River Tweed and follow it to St Boswells. If you are staying in St Boswells, Dryburgh Abbey makes for a very pleasant side trip.
Overnight: St Boswells
Today, walk through the rolling scenery of the Scottish Borders which offers a touch of Roman history. Leaving St Boswells, you follow the River Tweed once more before diverting away from it, just before the hamlet of Maxton. After a short section of minor road, you then join Dere Street, an ancient Roman Road before reaching your destination.
Leaving Harestanes, you cross the driveway of Monteviot House and the River Teviot. Passing the junction of the Teviot and Jed Water, you once again join Dere Street. As the road rises and falls in its determination to keep in a straight line, pleasant vistas of the Cheviots open up and your path now leads you to the remains of Cessford Castle.
From here to Morebattle the route allows the opportunity to study the flora and fauna of the area, including the lovely little purple flower, meadow cranesbill.
A footbridge over the Kale leads you to a day's walking through fields and over stiles, with fine views back over Morebattle framed by the Eildon Hills.
At this point comes one of the steepest climbs of the whole walk to the top of Wideopen Hill, with more spectacular views towards Yetholm and its loch. You descend into the valley of Bowmont Water and into Kirk Yetholm. Here, there are fine thatched cottages, reminders of its origins as a farm township, and it is also home to the north end of the Pennine Way, which starts in Edale in Derbyshire, some 270 miles away.
Overnight: Kirk Yetholm
As well as crossing the border into England, today traverse the Cheviots which means negotiating some ups and downs as you travel east to Wooler. You will be walking atop the hills for much of the day and this means more great views. You will pass by Yeavering Bell, just to the left of the path. It is Northumberland’s largest hill fort, covering an area of over 5 hectares and said to have been one of the tribal strongholds of the Votadini, who inhabited this area in Roman times.
Wooler is the largest town in the Cheviot Hills area. It was founded in the 12th century and has been a market town since the 13th century and still has one of the most important livestock markets in northeast England. Today brings you closer towards the coast and the end of your journey. Enjoy the pleasant mix of farmland and forest and through Weetwood Moor, part of which lies between the nearby hills and the coastal plain. Crossing Weetwood Bridge and near the 18th century Weetwood Hall, continue on to Fenwick.
Overnight: Beal, near Fenwick
The final section of your walk is one of the most spectacular and unusual. The scenery is unique and although you follow the road for most of the way to Holy Island, the changing vistas and abundant birdlife will keep you occupied.
Holy Island is one of Europe’s most famous Christian places and it has a wealth of sites that relate to its eventful history. St Cuthbert’s name and life inspired the building of the Lindisfarne Priory which began in about 1120. There is also a castle which was ordered to be built by Henry VIII as Holy Island held great strategic importance centuries ago.
One of the highlights of this tour is the high standard of the accommodation. We specifically choose the hotels, inns, guesthouses and B&B’s to ensure that you enjoy every minute of your stay. They all offer a warm welcome to walkers, traditional hospitality and delicious local food.
This independent walking holiday is available to solo walkers but as all our holidays are priced per person based on two sharing, there is a single supplement payable to cover the additional costs we incur. If you require single rooms within your party we will, of course, try to accommodate your request subject to availability. Please note, that singles may not be of the same standard as twins.
A hearty breakfast is included each morning, while lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Your accommodation will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival. Alternatively your guidebook also includes details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants and your info pack will of course have recommendations.
Bryan & Alison Bell will do all they can to make your stay at Dunfermline House memorable and comfortable. Located centrally in the beautiful Border Town of Melrose, all the communities many attractions and facilities are only a few steps away.
This comfortable family house is a converted school and a short walk from the town centre and River Tweed. Mrs O'Neill will get you off to a flying start on the St Cuthbert's Way with her warm hospitality and delicious breakfasts.
The Buccleuch Arms Hotel stands beside the village green in St Boswells. The hotel has recently been refurbished to high standard.
Allerton House has six spacious, uniquely furnished bedrooms, each with its own character, when you arrive you are met with a warm welcome by your hosts.
Airenlea bed and breakfast offers a high standard of accommodation, friendly atmosphere and warm welcome to all guests. Airenlea is ideally located, just a few minutes from the centre of Jedburgh over looking the historic town.
The Templehall Inn is a cosy inn in the small village of Morebattle.Comfortable ensuite rooms and great home cooked food in this popular local pub make for a great eveings stay.
Perfectly situated on the path of St Cuthbert's Way, the Farmhouse has been beautifully refurbished and renovated to a very high standard, with many of the old features remaining. You can expect a warm welcome during your stay at The Farmhouse at Yeltholm Mill.
A newly converted Grain Mill & Granary on the edge of the former 'Gypsy' village of Kirk Yetholm, stands proudly at the foot of the Cheviot Hills looking out over the Bowmont Water.
Tilldale House is a charming 17th century stone-built house with all the usual modern comforts.All of the spacious, comfortable bedrooms have en-suite facilities.
Situated between the villages of Fenwick and Beal the Lindisfarne Inn provides a cosy night’s stay in newly refurbished rooms, and a hearty Northumberland breakfast. The pub uses local, seasonal produce and is the nearest mainland pub to the Holy Island.
The Crown and Anchor stands in the heart of the village adjacent to Lindisfarne Priory and overlooking the castle and harbour and has been recently renovated to the highest standard of accommodation and cuisine.
This tour is available from April to mid-September, to start on any day of the week.
Borders Book Festival: In mid-June each year the Borders Book Festival takes place, and the area is very busy. Due to lack of availability, please avoid booking over these dates if possible. Thank you.
This walking holiday is available to solo walkers but as we incur additional baggage transfer costs there is a solo walker supplement payable. If you require single rooms in your party then these are subject to availability and a supplement is again payable.
A hearty breakfast is included each morning while lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Your accommodation will be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival, alternatively, your guidebook also includes details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants.
Your bags will be collected from your accommodation each day and moved onto your overnight accommodation each day. We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 15kg per person.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
Many of our clients choose to add extra nights along the walk. Please contact the Macs Adventure office to arrange this for you. We would recommend extra nights in Melrose to enjoy the lovely Tweed Valley scenery and Lindisfarne to take in the many attractions and wonderful birdlife the island offers.
By Air: Edinburgh and Newcastle airports are the closest options. Onward travel is by rail and /or coach.
By Coach: Melrose and Jedburgh are both served by National Express as well as Berwick-upon-Tweed.
By Rail: Tweedbank is the main line station used to connect by bus on to Melrose. Tweedbank station is just an 8 minute bus journey from Melrose.
By Road: We generally recommend using public transport as parking is generally not available in Melrose.
By Air: Edinburgh and Newcastle airports are the closest options. Travel by rail and/or coach from Berwick-upon Tweed.
By Coach: For most services you will need to get to Berwick-upon-Tweed. Please note that bus services are limited and a taxi may be required on certain days to reach Berwick-Upon-Tweed.
By Rail: You will need to get to Berwick-upon-Tweed for connections to Edinburgh & Newcastle. By Taxi: There is a local taxi service which provides the most convenient way to transfer to Berwick-upon-Tweed and further a field.
Please visit Travelinefor further information.
Planning a trip on St Cuthbert's Way can be daunting, especially if this is your first long distance walking holiday. We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.
We offer a range of itineraries so you can choose your preferred daily distance so hopefully, you will find an itinerary that suits your preferred level of activity. If you currently don’t enjoy an active lifestyle we suggest regular walking in hilly terrain supplemented by cardiovascular exercise for at least 6 months prior to your walk. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as St Cuthbert's Way is extremely popular especially over April/May and July/August. You will find up to date availability on our availability and dates tab and we will always try and accommodate your plans.
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc.
Traditionally April/May has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although I believe any time between late March and October offers a wonderful experience.
For the WSSSCW1 and 2 we will need to keep an eye on the tidal charts to make sure that you can cross the causeway to the holy isle. Please check the tide times before you book any of these walks.
Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers we use do not accept pets.
You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop. In an emergency please contact the office or the B&B's if you need assistance.