From Lanark through the Uplands and Borders
Lanark Leg is one of the oldest Northern Cross routes which spends most of the the route following the two beautiful rivers – The Clyde and The Tweed. Along with walking along the river side the route also includes stops at dramatic waterfalls, historic monuments and a wonderful range of churches, new and old. Throughout the route the Leg spends the days walking with the cross and the common goal of reaching Lindisfarne and then spends the evenings worshipping with the local communities in the Scottish Borders. The welcome and the friendships that are found along the way within the group and with the locals is an experience that (in our view) cannot be replicated or forgotten.
Lanark Leg is 110 miles long which means it averages at 17 miles a day. We carry a large wooden cross every step of the way (although every year the old joke about pushing it into the Tweed to float down and meet us in Berwick becomes a little more appealing) however the route is well set out (with good stops along the way) and the miles just pass by in good company. The most challenging part of the walk is taking the cross up over the Three Brethren hill range on the Monday which makes the warm welcome in Selkirk that night from parishioners (which generally includes food and showers!) very much appreciated. Other main points of interest for the walk include the tractor ride over the ford on the Thursday into Etal and the amazing Friday walk where you start walking just before sunrise meaning you see Good Friday awaken before you, while walking the last few miles to the sands!
Lanark also has a reputation for being a fun leg with good food, camaraderie, sparkling conversation, and many fine pubs along the route! We often sing as we walk, a joyful (and hopefully tuneful) mixture of hymns, shanties, and nonsensical rhymes. When we pass through towns and villages we even try to coordinate so that we all sing the same holy song at the same time!
Many of the places we pass hold great historical or religious significance, and we are fortunate enough to be allowed access to them. On the Tuesday of Holy Week we visit Melrose and hold a brief service in the beautiful ruins of its famous abbey. We also pass many monuments during the week, including a huge statue of William Wallace, where it is compulsory to stop and sing a rousing rendition of Flower of Scotland.
On Maundy Thursday, we cross the border into England, somehow managing to keep Scotland to the South for several hundred meters! We visit the site of the battle of Flodden Field in the afternoon, which often provokes a good deal of quiet reflection. In good weather we then ford the river Till into Etal village by tractor, but in flooding conditions we must use a longer road route (boo!) During the evening service we wash one another’s feet before enjoying a Seder meal together.
We start walking very, very early on the morning of Good Friday, as Lanark Leg has furthest to travel in order to reach the causeway to Holy Island. We join the route of the other Legs at Beale Sands, and (separately or together with other Legs depending on arrival times) cross the tidal causeway to Lindisfarne where we join together as a united Northern Cross.
PS. This is not to say that Lanark Leg is only available to those who are fit for the full length walk – we also rely on our support drivers, who take turns to ferry the group’s belongings between the overnight stops, getting the chance to walk for at least part of the day, depending on how much they feel able to do.
If you would like more information, see our FAQs here, or would like to correspond with a representative of Northern Cross please go to our Contact page. If you are interested in walking with us next Easter and would like to sign up please go to our Registration page.