St Cuthbert’s Way Trip – Day 4 (Summary)

St. Cuthbert’s Way – Resources and Index

The fourth day of our St. Cuthbert’s Way walk took us from Wooler to Lowick, a total distance of around 14 miles. It rained heavily during the day, so we did it at quite a fast pace, primarily it was a bit wet to entirely enjoy the scenery. That also means I have a slight absence of quotes from the day, mostly because it was a bit difficult to talk given the monsoon conditions that we faced.

The breakfast in the hotel, with Susanna eyeing up the cafetieres and wanting to have one of those, instead of the filter coffee that was available. It transpired that they were just for decoration and weren’t in use, which perhaps wasn’t entirely ideal after Susanna had become so excited.

The rooms above had been quite noisy the night before, something that Gordon and I were aware of given our ground floor accommodation. Gordon made some allegations about Susanna being like an elephant, although Steve confirmed that on this occasion she wasn’t to blame.

The hotel wanted the breakfast orders in the evening before, something which I understand for B&Bs, but I’m less convinced is necessary in larger venues. After a rather filling Italian meal on the previous evening (which is likely to be my favourite meal of the week), I didn’t much want the heavy breakfast I’d pre-ordered, I’d have rather switched to the lighter Eggs Benedict, but I was stuck with this (and it is what I said I’d have to be fair). I feel a little guilty to say that most of this went in the bin, the bacon was greasy and cold and I abandoned it. Not ideal, although the sausage was a decent one. I instead had about a gallon of the hotel’s orange juice and three muffins.

Anyway, that matter aside, there was then a question about where Susanna’s breakfast was. It transpired that the staff hadn’t brought it out as Susanna had cleared off to the other end of the room and they thought she wasn’t there. Susanna explained that “I was just doing my stretches”. That’s the problem, she’s too much of an athlete compared to the rest of us.

As Steve said, the hotel likely thought it was very kind of us that we had brought our parents along for a walk.

We were then ready for a walk, or at least, I was, as the others were faffing about taking photos. This is Tower Hill in Wooler, where the town’s castle was once located.

I rushed up to the top of the hill to take a photo, before realising that this was really additional climbing that I didn’t need to do, so I rushed back down. I thought that it’d be a good view from here, and although that was the case, I forgot that we were about to climb much higher anyway.

The morning’s walk was through a lot of this terrain, ferns and the like. I was walking at the front, meaning I got wet knocking all the water off the ferns for the walkers behind. It’s that selfless sort of behaviour that will likely see me winning an award later on this week.

The Fowberry Estate with this interesting display board giving some information about the wildlife hidden within. I always check these boards to ensure that there are no snakes around.

More ferns, although I enjoy walking through this terrain. The rain kept the environment at a colder temperature, which I very much liked.

Steve and I suspected that this wall was old, but we had no idea. I took a photo of it instead, although Steve then mentioned that there was a big cow thing at the back of the field that I hadn’t noticed so I changed my focus to worrying about that.

The quiet River Till, which is a tributary of the River Tweed.

This is Weetwood Bridge, a Grade I listed structure which was built in the sixteenth century. It’s perhaps a shame that there were no signs here giving more information, as it’s where the English army crossed the river the day before the Battle of Flodden.

This gas pipeline was noted in the guidebook as being from the North Sea and I had mentioned to the others that it was coming up. Most of us took photos of it, although without any real reason to do so.

We then joined, although only for a short while, the Devil’s Causeway which is a Roman road that pre-dates Hadrian’s Wall. Slightly annoyingly, it led directly to where our accommodation was at Lowick, but we were walking the St. Cuthbert’s Way and couldn’t just miss a chunk out, even if it got us back home quicker. We were only walking on this for a few minutes, but I liked the Roman connection.

A pillbox from the Second World War, when there was a concern that the Germans would attack this part of the country.

Some photos of St. Cuthbert, this is a wooden statue that was a pleasant sight for us all. Although that meant more faffing about taking photos, although I didn’t say anything.

A photo of Gordon standing next to the statue.

I don’t know the crop, but it looked quite pretty in the landscape.

It was a little bit of a slog to the next point, which was St. Cuthbert’s Cave.

St. Cuthbert’s Cave is said to be the location that the monks of Lindisfarne laid the body of St. Cuthbert whilst they rested. Or at least, I think that’s the story that has been built up over the centuries. They were carrying his body as the Danish kept raiding the Holy Island, so they wanted to protect his remains. There are two caves of the same name, but there’s no reason that the monks couldn’t have stopped at both locations as I’m sure it was very tiring carting this dead body about the place. Also, apologies that the photos are a bit blurry, but there was a torrent of water in front of me and it was hard to keep my phone dry.

Some idiots have been having fires in the cave, which has meant the National Trust have advised that visitors don’t go into the cave itself. We did have a quick look inside, but we decided to have our lunches in rather safer parts of the site. Gordon also had a look at his foot and I can confirm that it was in a bit of a mess. He was being quite brave though and didn’t complain for too long. We didn’t want to linger for too long here as it was getting a bit cold and then Sarah and Andy sneaked off to do something, but I can’t repeat here what Gordon said about that. I didn’t get involved of course in that tittle tattle.

It was then around three miles to get to the end of the walk, which we did quite quickly as the weather was dreadful and it poured with rain for nearly the entire distance. I did enjoy this woodland section and we did do a good pace, although I’m pleased to note that everyone kept up (we really have done very well indeed this week, a great group for keeping up!). I think a few people at the back might have been a little confused about the pace, but Steve is the walk leader and I just do what I’m told.

The others had been considering getting a taxi from Fenwick to our hotel in Lowick, but I was never that keen as I just walk places. However, the planned taxi at 16:00 was scrapped since we got to Fenwick at just before 14:00, so we all walked in the sheet rain to the accommodation. This took an hour and really wasn’t ideal given that we were walking by the side of the road, although I was humoured to hear that a lorry had splashed Gordon. He also said that he was jogging to keep up with Steve and I, although I think that this is entirely fake news. We did see the body of a dead badger which was sad, although at least they’re alive in the area (unless that’s the last one, in which case they’re not). Sarah did mention that she could see us in the distance, but I don’t think she realised how Steve and I were trying to inspire her by our fast walking.

This photo makes more sense if clicked on to make it easier to see, with evidence of Steve not removing the soap powder from his clothes being evident. This also meant that we had safely reached Lowick, which was a considerable relief after nearly an hour of road walking in the pouring rain.

At this point, my phone told me that it had sensed moisture and I was a little annoyed by that, since it should have detected moisture much earlier. That took me some drying out with a hair dryer (on cool setting) which Sarah suggested, as the phone won’t let you charge it if it thinks that there’s moisture in the charging port. I couldn’t have gone out without my phone (obviously), so I was pleased to get it working again.

Our hotel has been closed for a couple of weeks due to a Covid scare, with us staying on the final night before they reopened. They were really rather good about the whole thing, offering refunds and the like, but we decided to stay there. It meant though that we had to move to a different location to get our evening meal.

My room, which I adored because the owner turned the radiators on which meant that I could dry everything out. My room also had a bath and this was a real bonus to me given how moist everything had become. I was pleased that I could entirely dry my boots and clothing out overnight.

My SealSkinz socks had done very well in the rain, although my shoes were sodden and they had failed towards the end to keep the water out. However, they had done marvellously and so my feet were still not that wet and they were fortunately undamaged. I certainly would have been disappointed if they were in the state that Gordon’s feet were in (his socks hadn’t held out at all). Susanna is also writing an angry letter to someone as her shoes aren’t anywhere as waterproof as she’d had been promised. I would say, I wouldn’t want to be on the end of that complaint as she can be quite fierce.

We went to the Black Bull in Lowick for our evening meal, a pub which is listed in the Good Beer Guide which means that I’ll have to write it up separately. Initially they could only offer us two tables, as we were a late booking, but they kindly fixed that on the evening and got us all a table together which was much appreciated.

The others were more generous about their food, although I thought my chicken and leek pie was perhaps just a little mediocre. I feel the need to be slightly critical, because Bev wouldn’t want me to be anything other than to be honest (and she complains a lot, so I am always learning from her). For those who care (likely about three people), I felt that the portion size was inadequate (a complaint I rarely make), the chips lacked any fluffiness inside and the mushy peas were generic and lacking any depth of taste or flavour. The filling of the pie was better and the chicken tender and rich in flavour, but there was little evidence of leek either visually or by taste and the base of the pie was soggy. The extra gravy I asked for was brought out just as I was finishing, although in all fairness, that did have a rich taste and I did enjoy that (the taste I mean, not the delay). The meal was all a bit bland for me and the price point was quite punchy given that.

Anyway, I digress, and I was probably the one who the most critical of the food (which isn’t the first time). And the sharing cheese board (which I nearly ordered to myself, but I thought that would be too decadent) that Sarah and Andy ordered really did look very lovely and the blue cheese they gave me from that was delicious. There we go, a nice balanced review to be fair as I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining (again).

There were no dark beers available on draft, but the pub had made provision to have Black Hag from Cheviot Brewery, which I liked and had a couple of bottles of. The staff struggled a little to engage on the selection of real ales, but at least they had a range available to choose from, so all was well and the quality justified being in the Good Beer Guide. Also, I know these are difficult times for pubs, so I liked they’d made an effort to have some bottles available to widen the options.

A group photo, just before Sarah and I helpfully took a photo of Gordon, which seemed to annoy him as he mentioned that “you two are in cahoots”. It was just photos for Bev though, since she can’t be with us on this trip. We’ve missed her quite a lot, she’s really quite a guiding influence on me in terms of my behaviour. Indeed, she’s something of an inspiration.

The ice cream, which was a suitable way to end the meal and it tasted of a decent quality. Gordon had three scoops of ice cream as he’s very wealthy, something that was commented on at the table. Susanna and I limited ourselves to just two, we didn’t want to go overboard on the decadence.

We then walked back to the accommodation, although I went via St. John the Baptist Church in Lowick and this was of some historic note as the medieval building here was linked to the monastery on Holy Island. It was replaced at the end of the eighteenth century with the current church, which was then extended in the late 1880s.

This meant that our fourth day of walking was over, with just a short stretch on the five and final day which would see us reach the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. It had certainly been moist, but the terrain wasn’t too hilly and I liked the woodland areas. The walk into Lowick isn’t really ideal, but we just put our heads down and got on with it (inspired by Steve). All told though, another lovely day and I’m a little sad that this whole thing is drawing to an end.