Race the tide 100K Trek to the Holy Island
- n/a days
About the challenge
St Cuthbert's Way is a long-distance walk of 100km (62 miles) through beautiful and varied countryside between the Scottish Borders town of Melrose and ancient Lindisfarne, off the coast of Northumberland. We end at this mystical Holy Island – with the additional challenge of ensuring you beat the tide in order to cross the causeway.
The beautiful landscapes of this diverse trek inspire us we pass ancient landmarks, small towns and villages. There are some arduous hills; the sheer length makes it a gruelling undertaking. This is a very tough challenge – you will need to be a very fit, experienced walker and determined to conquer the hilly terrain and the fatigue in order to succeed. Your sense of achievement will last a lifetime!
Day 1: Berwick – Melrose – St Cuthbert’s Way
We meet mid-morning in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where there is parking, and transfer (approx one hour) to Melrose, an attractive market town in the Scottish Borders. From here we set out on our epic trek.
The walk is named after 7th-Century Cuthbert, a native of the Borders who spent his life in the service of the church. He began his work at Melrose Abbey and achieved the status of Bishop. When he died he was buried on Holy Island. He was canonised eleven years after his death, when his coffin was opened and his remains found to be perfectly preserved.
Our first section of St Cuthbert’s Way sees us climbing steeply to the saddle of the Eildon Hills – accompanied by inspiring views which will motivate us for the hours to come! From the saddle our path drops to Bowden, then passes through small towns and villages, following the River Tweed for some time. We continue through the rolling scenery of the Scottish Borders, an area rich in history, with a Roman Road bringing us through Jedburgh with wonderful views of the Cheviot Hills. We continue on into more open countryside, passing the remains of Cessford Castle, and walking through fields with wonderful views back to the Eildon Hills. One of our steepest climbs, Wideopen Hill, lies before us – more spectacular views though, depending on your pace, it may be starting to get dark around now.
We descend into the valley of Bowmont Water, passing the northern end of the Pennine Way, and come to the foot of the Cheviot Hills, where we cross into England. Dotted with ancient hill-forts and earthworks, it’s not surprising to learn that this area was an important part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. There are some steep paths as we cross the hills, passing Yeavering Bell, Northumberland’s largest hill fort and one of the highest points around.
Day 2: St Cuthbert’s Way – Holy Island – Berwick
Descending out of the hills, we come to the 13th-century market town of Wooler, and continue on rolling terrain over moorland and through forest and farmland towards the coast. Crossing the saddle of Greensheen Hill, a stiff climb, we reach the St Cuthbert’s Cave Wood, where we can stop to see the cave. A dramatic sandstone overhang which is reputedly where the body of St Cuthbert was taken when Lindisfarne was attacked by the Vikings in 875AD; it should be very atmospheric in the small hours of the morning!
We descend through open fields and woodland, and in clear weather should be able to see Holy Island. We will be extremely tired by now, but this should encourage you to keep going! We pass through the small village of Fenwick, and fully appreciate our last spectacular stretch, crossing via the famous Causeway. The unique scenery and abundant birdlife here will keep you going, and the sight of Holy Island is truly magical. Our challenge ends at Lindisfarne Priory, where we can celebrate our unforgettable achievement. We’ve made it, and have earned a powerful sense of achievement that will never leave us! We transfer back to Berwick, say our farewells and head home.
Trek approx 100 km
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The tour cost includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders and support staff, back-up vehicles, and marshalling stops with food, water, hot drinks and plenty of snacks. Parking is available at Berwick, and we provide coach transport from there to the start at Melrose, and back from Lindisfarne.
The tour cost does not include personal travel insurance (optional), or any extra food, drinks or personal items you may require. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Our treks are graded from 1 (Moderate) to 5 (Extreme). This trek is Grade 4. We trek mainly on grassy paths or dirt tracks, but there are some stony paths and small tarmac roads; some sections may be muddy or boggy. There are steep inclines. Care must be taken over rough terrain and when walking on roads.
It’s easier to get disoriented or lose your footing in the dark, and you’ll be less alert as you become fatigued, so it’s vital for your success that you have trained enough to be a fit, confident and experienced walker. The full 100km walk should take approximately 30 hours for fit and strong walkers; it may take others a few hours longer.
This is not a competitive event! You can go at your own pace, but if we are concerned about you being able to finish the distance safely, we will recommend you stop early. There will be cut-off times for your own safety.
Please note that we do not permit dogs on our treks.
Preparing for the challenge
It will hopefully be pleasantly warm and sunny, but be prepared for anything! It could be hot, cold (especially at night), rainy or windy. Having good quality footwear and clothing, so you are comfortable in any conditions, could make the difference between being able to finish the event or not.
This event is an endurance event, designed to be very challenging for those of good health and fitness. It is achievable for most people provided they train far enough in advance to gain the fitness and experience required – and have a healthy dose of self-belief and determination. We supply you with a thorough training guide once you have registered.