From coast to coast along the borders of England & Scotland
Starting in Carlisle, this leg then goes to Lanercost, Haltwhistle, Wark, Otterburn, Ingram and Belford finishing on Holy Island.
We walk from coast to coast along the borders of England and Scotland, a journey of some 118 miles, through countryside whose wild beauty seems (to us at any rate) to bring God very close – and I hope during our journey he will be close to all of us. Pilgrimage is a life-changing event. We give ourselves to God and each other, and we are transformed in the process – maybe in ways we did not expect. Whatever we bring to the pilgrimage – expectations, burdens, talents – is laid at the foot of the Cross for God to use in his own way and time. We are likely to be joined by local people at various points, who may give us tea, sing a few hymns with us and/or walk with us some of the way. It is wonderful to be supported by people along our route and to join them in their preparations for Easter – it’s one of the unique features of this leg – enjoy it!
“Every pilgrimage is different, and whatever has gone before cannot be re-created”
The first day is almost entirely cross-country. We follow the course of the River Eden before turning north to join Hadrian’s Wall. As Hadrian’s Wall keeps entirely to high ground there are some wonderful views. Lanercost Priory, our first overnight stop, was founded in 1176 and is a truly amazing place, its dark sandstone walls steeped in borders history set the tone for the first half of the week.
“…Robert the Bruce laid the priory waste in 1311 and what was left succumbed to the dissolution of the monasteries…”
The next day we don’t leave until late morning because we take part in Lanercost Priory’s Palm Sunday service. When we do set out we follow Hadrian’s Wall again. We stop in Gilsland for tea and a short service and in the afternoon take a more lowland route to Haltwhistle, the largest town on our route.
“…today we had lots of people from Gilsland and Haltwhistle walking with us, providing much-needed help with the cross-carrying!”
In the morning out of Haltwhistle we walk along the most spectacular part of Hadrian’s Wall, enjoying the panoramic views and we then wander through forest and moorland until we reach Wark
“…found a sheltered spot to have lunch …the rain kindly held off until we finished.”
The following morning is entirely cross-country and the afternoon mainly minor roads. After a communion service led by Wark’s vicar, we walk beside the River and along a disused railway line. We share lunch and worship with local people before heading over the hill to Otterburn calling in at an ancient isolated chapel dedicated to St Cuthbert.
“…we came over the hill and there was the village lying in a hollow surrounded by heather-covered slopes…”
From Otterburn we head through the military training ranges perhaps accompanied by an officer. The walk from Otterburn to Ingram is a long day, though it is helped along by the now almost legendary repast at Sharperton and spiritual refreshment when we stop for prayer at the “Lady’s Well” at Holystone. We spend he last part of the afternoon walking small roads through the foothills of the Cheviots as we approach Ingram.
“…we paused for a while at Lady’s Well for prayer and reflection …”
In the morning we enjoy lovely views of the Cheviots on our way to Chillingham Castle and where we will be praying in their family chapel before lunch. In the afternoon we take gentle footpaths and minor roads into Belford.
“…this evening we shared the Passover meal and spent some time in prayer …later some of the hardier people went to the pub!”
Throughout the morning’s walk we watch Holy Island drawing nearer. At the causeway, we meet our fellow Northern Cross pilgrims and walk the sands with them to Holy Island and a weekend of celebration
“Tracks, paths and muddy sea shore, spectacular views of Holy Island though!”
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