St Cuthbert's Way

Saint Cuthbert, after whom the 'way' is named, and to whom Maxton Kirk is dedicated, was born about the year AD 634. His birthplace is uncertain - Oxton and Smailholm in Berwickshire or Northumberland have all been suggested.

After a divine vision while carrying out his work as a shepherd, he entered the monastery of Melrose in 651. The abbot was Eata, and the prior, St Boisil, after whom St Boswells is named. His qualities of leadership were immediately obvious, and Eata asked Cuthbert to accompany him to Ripon where a new monastery was being established. Cuthbert was less than happy at Ripon, and as soon as possible he returned to Melrose.
In 661, Melrose was struck by plague, afflicting Cuthbert and killing St Boisil, whom Cuthbert succeeded as prior. Cuthbert travelled widely through his beloved border hills visiting the remoter parts of the countryside. His reputation grew, and he became known as 'the fire in the north'. He was particularly fond of the sea and the coastal lands around the monastery of St Ebba at Coldingham. Ebba, who was a royal princess, was in charge of a monastery with both brothers and sisters living and working there. St Abbs is named after her.

In 664, Eata and Cuthbert were transferred to Lindisfarne, Eata as bishop and Cuthbert as prior. While there, he became even more renowned for his saintliness and healing powers. As his life became busier, he found too little time for meditation, and, about 676, being a hermit by nature, he managed to persuade Eata to allow hin to live on Inner Farne. There he built an oratory and cell. He studied the natural world, the elements and the sea creatures. His studies of the eider ducks, now sometimes known as 'Cuthbert's ducks' or 'Cuddy ducks', made him one of the earliest conservationists.

In 684 King Ecgfrith of Northumbria made him Bishop of Hexham, a see that he exchanged with Eata in 685, when Eata became Bishop of Hexham and Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne. In 687 he again retired to Inner Farne where he died on March 20th of the same year. He was buried at Lindisfarne, but in 875, his body was removed to protect it from Viking raiders, and eventually reburied in Durham Cathedral about 999. Numerous churches and monuments are dedicated to him.

This 100 k or 62½ mile walk links the two religious sites in the Border area which are connected with St Cuthbert - Melrose Abbey and Lindisfarne or Holy Island. In the one, he began his life of religious devotion and, in the other, his life came to an end after long years of service to his God and to his fellow man.

This site is intended to give an insight into the places through which the route passes, linking interesting information not normally contained in the guide books, adding scenic views where appropriate and to give pleasure to those who can never share the pleasure of actually being here in the Scottish Borders,

whilst encouraging those who can come, to do so. A good map and a guide book, sensible clothing and footwear, and forward planning are essential if you are going to do the real thing; a comfortable chair, and perhaps a refreshment, is enough, if your walk is virtual.

Long distances do not need to be a problem for most stages, tho' the access to the hilly stages is limited by the lack of roads. If you are not able to walk all of the way, try doing some of the shorter and flatter sections - you will have a great day out. If that is too much, or you are on the other side of the world, sit back and enjoy!

Borders walks | Stage1 - Melrose to St Boswells

Kelso Border Union Show
Grey Mare's Tail
Smailholm Tower
Scott's View
Melrose Abbey
The River Tweed