Send Me A Sign!

Well, alrighty then!

I was about to give up on finding the start of the St. Cuthbert’s Way trail out of the town of Melrose, and jokingly said, “Lord, send me a sign.”

Guess what? You go down a short flight of cement steps and there’s another sign asking you to please scrape the mud off your boots rather than track it up the steps. And a metal boot-scraper provided. How wonderfully British!

Did I mention that the hill was a bit steep? This is roughly two-thirds of the way up the steps, before you get to the field trail, shooting down. My quads called me rude names.

It was a beautiful morning, about 55 degrees F with a light breeze. I was still warm by the time I reached a turn-around point. I had a set breakfast time, and didn’t want to go too far from Melrose. It was a great time to be out and about, with the birds starting to wake up but almost no traffic, aside from the gents checking on the cows and testing the moisture in the hay-meadow beside the trail. The hills across the valley have several view-points on them. The Eildon Hills have a very long history of human presence, as I mentioned on Monday. The hills themselves are laccoliths, igneous intrusions that pushed up into the Old Red Sandstone. They date to 352 million years ago, and include one small volcanic remnant. So of course I was going to climb them.

St. Cuthbert was a holy figure in the mid-600s in Scotland and Northumberland. He is associated with Lindesfarne, and was the abbot of Melrose for a while. He had a reputation for wise counsel and healing, and so was called to help the kings of Northumberland (Durham and surrounding areas, occasionally from Edinburgh as far south as York). He is often shown with otters. St. Cuthbert’s Way is a hiking/walking path from Melrose to Lindesfarne, including Dryburgh. The entire route is 62 miles, but parts are marked for local hiking. Like the path over the Eildon Hills.

Modern St. Cuthbert banner at his shrine in Durham Cathedral. The Vikings led to his being relocated.
St. Cuthbert and his otters. Creative Commons fair use. Original source:

5 thoughts on “Send Me A Sign!

  1. When I read your previous post I wondered whether you had visited Durham between the Yorkshire and the border abbeys, and the photo of the St. Cuthbert banner suggests you may have done so. It seemed an obvious place for a stop en route – if only to add a bit of variety by choosing somewhere that was not a ruin – but I think it came to my mind because your picture of the Jedburgh doorway immediately made me think of Durham.

  2. Since they did a LOT of walking back then, that ‘could’ have been done in one long day, but I’m guessing they broke it up into two days. I’m guessing they would have stopped at Hethpool or Wooler.

    • Wooler is one known stop, because there is a pilgrimage church near there. I suspect there are other shrines and stops that I didn’t pass on the road route.

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