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St. Cuthbert’s Cave


Walking to St. Cuthbert’s Cave on a snowy Winter’s Day

We don’t know exactly when in 875CE the monks of Lindisfarne fled their spiritual home, but the story tells us that on the first night of that journey, they rested at St. Cuthbert’s Cave. This cave like shelter on the western side of a sandstone ridge must have offered some sanctuary and safety to the monks, burdened as they were with the body of St. Cuthbert and other holy relics given into their care. The Cave gave them some respite, and the time to pause, eat and plan their journey ahead. Legend says they were being pursued by Viking raiders and knowing the countryside intimately, they would have known of the Cave and the sanctuary it offered. Their journey would take them to Melrose and eventually Cuthbert’s mortal remains were laid to rest in Durham Cathedral, where they remain to this day.

St. Cuthbert’s Cave remains a place of pilgrimage and is still visited by many people today and judging by the names, initials and dates scratched into the soft sandstone face of the cave, it has been so for a very long time. The earliest date I can find is 1753; many more chisellings may have been lost to weather and erosion, I guess I’ll never know.

Our Footsteps guided walk took us there on a cold, but sunny day in February. A fresh fall of snow was covering the land and it was still crisp and sparkling in the sunshine, a joy to be out walking in the Northumberland countryside on such a fine day. The tracks of brown hare were everywhere in the snow and out in the arable fields we saw lots of them running about, largely oblivious to our presence, but ever watchful I suspect as they foraged for food across the wide open spaces.

I lead regular Footsteps guided walks to St. Cuthbert’s Cave and the surrounding countryside. So if you want to follow in the footsteps of those remarkable men who put this rocky outcrop on the map, then please check out our website for details.

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