Hike St. Cuthbert’s Way 100Km Hiking Route
If you crave solitude, fresh air, and a pilgrimage trek, St. Cuthbert’s way could be the perfect trek for you.
This 100km long-distance hiking route is probably one of the most epic hiking adventures you’ve never heard about, right?
My St. Cuthbert’s Way Pilgrimage
In April 2019, my four children and I embarked on a multi-day hiking adventure between the Scottish Boarders town of Melrose and Holy Island (Lindesfarne), England.
After hiking the Camino de Santiago in 2012 with my children, who then ranged in age from 2 to 9, I learned about St. Cuthbert’s Way.
First Came the Camino, Then Came Cuthbert’s
After walking the life changing Camino, it didn’t take me long to start wondering, what’s next?
Right away, I knew I had to add St. Cuthbert’s Way to my bucket list.
Years later, I learned that a running group had created the Saint Cuthbert’s Way Ultramarathon on the trail. That added fuel to my interest in hiking St. Cuthbert’s Way ’cause my family runs ultras for fun.
Fast Forward 7 Years Later
It wasn’t until 2019, though, that I finally walked the St. Cuthbert’s Way Holy Route with my children.
What is St. Cuthbert’s Way? Why Hike St. Cuthbert’s Way?
St. Cuthbert’s Way is a 100 km (62 miles) trail. It’s known as a holy route.
It starts in the cute, tiny town of Melrose, Scotland at Melrose Abbey. It continues 100 kilometers to Holy Island, England. Holy Island is off the coast of Northumberland, England.
The route is named after Saint Cuthbert, who dedicated his life to religion and service, and is said to have traveled the route. Most people start the route in Melrose.
A Remote Hiking Route, But an Epic Adventure
St. Cuthbert’s way is a remote route. Remote if you’re comparing it to The Camino de Santiago or The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB)
Towns, restaurants, grocery stores, accommodations, and supplies are very few and far between. Accordingly, you need to plan ahead and carry emergency supplies. And extra food, just in case.
However, the trail is well marked and perfect for quiet adventure. The route ends on Holy Island, which is only reachable by a causeway, so you have to time your walk perfectly or wait until low tide and it’s safe to cross.
Hiking By the Numbers
It’s estimated that 2,500 people complete the route each year, which pales in comparison to The Way (Camino de Santiago) or the Tour du Month Blanc.
However, St. Cuthbert’s Way promises you many moments of complete solitude. Unless perhaps you’re hiking with four kids in tow. 🙂
Where we Started
The kids and I began our adventure by flying into Edinburgh, Scotland. You can get cheap flights on Easy Jet out of London.
Oh my, what a gorgeous city! And the Starbucks downtown gets my award for best view ever.
We spent our first night in Edinburgh at a little hotel off the beaten path.
Getting to Melrose
The next morning we walked to the train station. We then took a train, and then a bus to Melrose. We waited for a long time for a bus to Melrose at a very tiny train station. It felt like we were in the middle of no where. We sorta kinda were.
At the bus stop, waiting for the bus to Melrose to start our 100 km trek, it felt like we were the only people left on the Earth, until an old Scottish farmer showed up and told us about his sheep farm. He couldn’t believe we were all about to walk St. Cuthbert’s Way. I promised to send him an email when we reached Holy Island.
Melrose is very small. The downtown area is set up like a loop road. In Melrose, we grabbed lunch at a little cafe. Then we made a quick stop at the Melrose Abby to get a Holy Route Stamp and check out the Abby. We then popped into a pharmacy before starting on the route. You walk through the town and up the hill.
Day One and Following
On day one we saw a few people on the route. The morning of day two was the last time we actually saw or passed people on the entire trail! We were then completely alone until we reached Holy Island. We did see a couple people from day one at a tavern a couple of nights later.
With the exception of a couple of trail markers that were hard to find in a forest clear cut, most trail markers were fairly easy to spot.
And, even those markers that were hard to spot wouldn’t have been a problem if I had carried a route map with me. Buy a map!!!
Note to self: Don’t wait until you’re almost done the route to buy a map.
If you plan to walk the Holy Route, as a solo traveler, with others, or with children in tow, definitely plan ahead. Unlike the Camino de Santiago or the Tour du Mont Blanc, you really can’t wing this trip. You can’t hope to find accommodation or food along the way, whenever you feel like stopping or get hungry.
Also, it’s the Scottish Borders, so you definitely need to bring weather appropriate gear. This includes RAIN gear! 😉
We lucked out and had sunny, beautiful weather everyday, except for one rain storm that caught us at the top of a big hill and followed us all the way until we reached our hostel.
Thankfully, we had rain gear and everything else we needed in our backpacks to keep us in good shape.
Learn More About Hiking St. Cuthbert’s Way
You can learn more about St. Cuthbert’s Way and plan your adventure through the Official St. Cuthbert’s Way Resource Website. Of course, if you have any questions, drop a note below in the comments and I’ll try to help or send me a message through IG.
If you hike St. Cuthbert’s Way, I’d LOVE to know and see your photos. Tag your photos @wanderschooling on Instagram.
A Trekking Route Beyond Words
St. Cuthbert’s Way during our late April trip was beautiful beyond words. It was an incredible hike, despite the fact that the kids and I felt under the weather the first couple of days (totally unrelated to the hike). The scenery was ever-changing and each day was different from the day before.
4 Days, 100KM
The kids and I hiked the route in 4 days. When we reached Holy Island, we grabbed a taxi that took us directly to the train station – and back to beautiful Edinburgh. Once we got back to Edinburgh, we chilled out at that beautiful Starbucks I mentioned earlier. Then we soaked up the sights, and saw the mega cute Panda at the Edinburgh Zoo.
If you’re looking for an epic, off the beaten path hiking adventure, this is it.
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