new guide for short hikes on St Cuthbert’s Way

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A guidebook has been launched dividing St Cuthbert’s Way into short walks.

Easter pilgrims last week and this were making their way from Melrose Abbey to the walk’s conclusion at Holy Island.

But for those unable to devote days to the popular route, the book offers choices to undertake the 62-mile (100km) hike in bite-sized chunks.

Consultant Vyv Wood-Gee said: “St Cuthbert’s Way is an absolutely fantastic route. The walks in the guide aim to provide something for everyone and to appeal to local people as well as visitors. Each walk includes a section of the way, but beyond that the walks vary considerably.”

The book is part of on-going development of the way which includes a new website (www.stcuthbertsway.info) and a workshop to which businesses along the walk’s length were invited.

Developed by Ron Shaw, the St Cuthbert’s Way is a pilgrimage route from Melrose, where St Cuthbert started his religious life in 650AD, to Lindisfarne, his eventual resting place and original pilgrimage shrine. It was officially opened in 1996.

The new illustrated guide covers 24 short circular routes, ranging from one to eight miles.

Mrs Wood-Gee said: “The first of the short walks starts and finishes at Melrose Abbey, climbing over the Eildon Hills, one of the best loved landmarks in the Borders, before circling back through woodland and along paths through farmland.

“Others feature the sections of St Cuthbert’s Way voted the most popular amongst walkers: along the banks of the River Tweed, past castles and abbeys, along Roman roads, crossing over the border from Scotland to England, taking in historic hill forts, rock carvings and St Cuthbert’s Cave.”

The book includes detailed descriptions of the short routes, maps and information on parking, public transport and refreshments as well as what will be seen along the way.

The workshop, aimed at helping companies maximise opportunities from the long distance walk took place in Yetholm last month when about 30 businesses attended.

Mrs Wood-Gee said: “What people need to know is ‘what do walkers want, how do I attract more walkers and how can I use the St Cuthbert’s Way to attract more people to my business and help them have such a good experience that they come back again?’ That’s what the workshop was about.”

Speakers included Scottish Borders Council’s (SBC) access officer Neil Mackay, successful Northumberland accommodation operator, Jackie Sewell, SBC’s tourism business development advisor Phil McCreadie and the route originator, Ron Shaw.

Mrs Wood-Gee said: “People found it worthwhile because they learned more about the route and what they could do with it in terms of their own business but also, especially the smaller businesses, found it useful in terms of linking up with other businesses and seeing how they could market themselves better. And it was a good opportunity for some of the package operators to meet other businesses and see what more could be done.”

The short walks guide, new website and workshop were part of the St Cuthbert’s Way Development Project, funded by Leader and involving Scottish Borders Leader, Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group and the Northumberland Coast and Lowlands Local Action Group.

The book, costing £9.99, is available online at www.stcuthbertsway.info or from visitor information centres. Profits from the sale of the guidebook go towards maintenance of St Cuthbert’s Way.