Borders Walk, May 2011

This walk was a combination of two long-distance paths, mostly in the Scottish Borders, but ending up in England. The first was the Borders Abbeys Way and the second, St Cuthbert's Way. They meet in Melrose. The Abbeys Way is a circuit, usually walked in five segments. We started in Kelso and omitted the final segment (Melrose to Kelso) in order to begin St Cuthbert's Way in Melrose. The map below shows what we walked - the Borders Abbeys Way in red and St. Cuthbert's in blue. The white dashed line is the Scotland-England border.

Our walk, in stages:

Kelso to Hawick

Hawick to Melrose

Melrose to Jedburgh

Jedburgh to Kirk Yetholm

Kirk Yetholm to Wooler

Wooler to Lindisfarne

The Borders Abbeys Way celebrates the four ancient abbeys, Kelso, Jedburgh, Melrose, and Dryburgh. These were all founded during the 12th century and destroyed during the "Rough Wooing". The "Rough Wooing" refers to the period from 1543 to 1551, when Henry VIII was incensed by the refusal of the Scots to agree to a marriage between his son Edward and the infant Mary, Queen of Scots. But even during the centuries before that, the abbeys were all repeatedly attacked and burned, thanks to their location in the borderland between the frequently warring countries, England and Scotland.

St. Cuthbert's Way honors the seventh century Cuthbert. Early in his life he was prior at Melrose, and at the end of his life he was Bishop of Lindisfarne; hence the route leads from Melrose to Lindisfarne. Cuthbert was tremendously influential in the church and travelled widely. He was a conciliator during the Synod of Whitby, the conference that heard debates between the proponents of the Celtic Church and those of the Roman Church. Cuthbert's roots were in the Celtic Church, but when the Synod decided in favor of the Roman, Cuthbert adopted the Roman ways at Lindisfarne. His decision and pastoral teachings eased the transition for the whole Celtic Church.

 

 

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