I’m now in to the last 4 weeks of my sabbatical. It has gone so quickly, yet there is still plenty to do.
The last month has been a lot of reading, walking Cagney and Lacey, started to strip down a table to rejuvenate it, something I need to go back to at some point.
Last week we went to Northumberland. A big thank you to Ruth and Helen for letting us stay at their place for the week, and thank you to Charlotte as she was willing to drop me off and pick me up when I was walking parts of St Cuthbert’s way.
We started with a wander around Melrose Abbey. Unfortunately we couldn’t go in the abbey itself as it was deemed unsafe due to possible falling masonry. We still had a good look around the grounds and the famous gargoyles around the building.
I admit, I cheated on the first section. The plan was I would take Lacey for the first part of the walk. As we got nearer Melrose we realised she would struggle with her short legs going over the hill (me too probably without having warmed up).
I had looked ahead to see if there was another suitable pace to pick up the path. We drove around to Dryburgh Abbey and I took Lacey, Cagney and Daisy who was spending the week with us. We followed the path, going over a high metal walk bridge over the river Tweed. I was surprised they were not bothered about the height, they were less happy about walking the path up and down the river bank until we reached the next village.
Here Charlotte picked up the dogs and allowed me to carry on on my own towards Jedburgh.
I followed the path following the trail signs, every so often stopping to look back to where I had been. If you like wild garlic it is a really good place to go to. The woodland along the river were absolutely full of it.
The next day I skipped to the end of the walk. To ensure I could walk across to Holy Island I did that bit first before going to find St Cuthbert’s cave.
The light in the photos doesn’t do justice to just how sunny and beautiful it was. With sunshine behind me and clouds above it created a magical atmosphere that mirrored the sky on the surface water laying on top of the sand and mud.
I knew it was going to be muddy and slippery, if I had had any sense I would have taken a stick to walk with. Being on my own was an immensely spiritually moving experience, but, it also meant if I fell down I had to be able to get back up on my own. Following in the footsteps of those who had walked the path before me helped me see the slippy areas so I knew to be more cautious.
I only ended up falling once, only down on my knees, so thankfully I didn’t get my clothes muddy. Near the middle, there is a point where there are deep mud wells, thankfully when I had once leg up to my knee in mud, my other foot was secure enough to get me out without crawling and sliding all over the place.
After this point I had the most amazing experience. There was no wind, the birds were all silent. It was like being in a protective bubble. Then, I heard what sounded like wind. I stopped and looked around, no wind, I checked to see that the tide wasn’t coming in, even though I knew I had plenty of time.
I looked to my right where you could see the little island off Holy Island. I realised there was another island mass. I realised that is where the sound was coming from, the mass was moving, that was the moment I realised there were lot and lots of seals gathered together on the sand.
It was as if they were singing to me, just me alone, in that moment I felt such a connection with the landscape around me and everything in it – there are no words to adequately describe such an amazing moment, one I never want to forget.
The other main place I wanted to go to was St Cuthbert’s cave. It is believed that when the Viking raids started and the monks carried Cuthbert’s coffin to safety this is where they stopped the first night, I was amazed they made it this far.
To walk down to Fountain’s Abbey and then up to Durham, I think it’s absolutely amazing. They must have been exceedingly fit to carry a coffin that far on foot.
We stayed a day longer than originally planned so we went exploring and found the Lady Well at Holystone. Not an easy place to find, unfortunately the site was locked, presumably because of the fallen tree.
The water from the well was gushing out down the hill. By the looks of it, the locals were making use of the water from the pipe and I presume a filtration pump you could hear working away.
The week is what I was hoping for, and the walk across the causeway was as inspiring as I hoped it might be. Next time I’d like to share the experience of walking with others.