Nature reserve beacons set to remember St Cuthbert

Misty cliffs around Pettico Wick in the St Abbs Head Nature Reserve.
Misty cliffs around Pettico Wick in the St Abbs Head Nature Reserve.

Three special beacons are set to light up nature reserves north and south of the border to celebrate the life of St Cuthbert.

The unique venture will bring together three National Nature Reserves run by three different national organisations: Lindisfarne (Natural England), the Farne Islands (National Trust) and St Abb’s Head (National Trust for Scotland).

They will unite around the figure of Cuthbert, known as the ‘Fire of the North’, a character who evokes a time when the ancient kingdom of Northumbria straddled what is now England and Scotland.

On 4 September (St Cuthbert’s Day) last year, a beacon fire was lit by National Trust Rangers on Inner Farne to commemorate monks doing the same in 687 to signal tthe death of Cuthbert to Lindisfarne.

The event celebrated the life of Cuthbert, who went down in history as ‘the Fire of the North’.

History will be repeated on September 4 this year when beacon fires will be lit on the Inner Farne and St Abb’s Head to celebrate the Cuthbert’s links with the wider region and its vitally important nature reserves.

A programme of linked walks and talks at each reserve will lead up to the event.

Local historian and Lindisfarne volunteer warden, John Woodhurst, who is co-ordinating the event said: “St Cuthbert was the inspiration for the Lindisfarne Gospels and Durham Cathedral, but it’s also amazing that there are three such internationally important reserves so close together in our region that all had significant links with Cuthbert. That’s what makes our event irresistible.”

Liza Cole, the National Trust for Scotland’s Senior Ranger at St Abb’s Head said: “We’re really pleased to link with our two outstanding neighbour nature reserves across the border. In Cuthbert’s time such a border didn’t exist – we were all part of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria. Circumstances have changed but all of us who work in nature reserves still value the importance that Cuthbert gave to the natural world and the animal kingdom. That is timeless and knows no boundaries. Let’s just hope the weather doesn’t rain on our parade!”