Blog

A Picturesque Pilgrimage on St Oswald's Way

If you enjoy visiting castles, St Oswald's Way is the walk for you! Along this wonderful long-distance walking trail you will encounter no less than 4 fantastic fortresses at Lindisfarne, Bamburgh, Warkworth and Dunstanburgh.

Beginning on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, this moderate walk of 97 miles will take you along the stunning coastline of Northumberland in north east England while following in the footsteps of St Oswald.

Amanda at Lindisfarne Castle

Who was St Oswald?

Oswald was a 7th century Anglo-Saxon King of Northumbria who promoted the spread of Christianity in the region. It is said that he died at the age of 38 “fighting for his fatherland”, and was declared a saint afterwards when the area he was killed came to be associated with miracles. People continued to take comfort in being healed merely by standing in the mark in which he fell, and a huge hole was eventually formed where the dirt was taken.

Poppies in Bamburgh on St Oswald's Way

The ‘Holiest Place in England’

The Causeway that takes you across to the start of the walk on Holy Island was constructed in 1954, and until that point, poles in the ground were the only guide to help you cross what is now known as the Pilgrim’s Path.

Pilgrim's Path to Lindisfarne

You can only cross at certain times of the day due to the tide times, and you can reach this historic island by bus or taxi from nearby Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The most prominent landmark you will see on arrival is Lindisfarne Castle, propped on top of a volcanic mound. It’s an impressive sight and well worth a visit, however, be prepared for visible repairs taking place as its exposure to the elements means that it has to undergo regular maintenance in order to protect it.

Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island

Lindisfarne's 1,400 year old Priory is your starting point for the walk, and it is in these grounds where you will find the statue of another saint - Cuthbert. At one time, the shrine to Cuthbert brought great wealth to the Monastery.

It's possible to combine St Oswald's Way with St Cuthbert's Way to continue north into Scotland.

Amanda on St Oswald's Way

Coastline and Castles

After leaving Lindisfarne your first stop is Belford - a historic village with a thriving community. From here, you'll continue towards Seahouses, via Bamburgh, whilst taking in fresh sea air and lovely coastal views. Bamburgh is immediately recognisable for Bamburgh Castle which towers over the village and the sandy beach.

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

Seahouses is a bustling seaside village which offers popular boat trips to the nearby Farne Islands - an ideal place to add a rest day. 

One of the lovely things about coastal walking is that, if the tide allows, you can walk on the beach as an alternative to the main path. This is what you can expect from the next stage from Seahouses to Craster, another bustling seaside community associated with oak-smoked kippers.

En route to Craster you will pass magnificent Dunstanburgh Castle which stands on a remote headland overlooking the North Sea.

Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland

From kippers to castles, you’re now on your way to Warkworth with its imposing fortress dominating the village. Warkworth Castle dates back to the 12th century and was owned by the powerful Percy family, land barons of Northumberland.

This is one of my favourite places on the walk - it’s a pretty location with so much to offer. Lovely shops, friendly folk and great cafes, as well as the castle and the picturesque River Coquet.

Warkworth Castle, Northumberland

Situated in some outstanding Northumberland scenery, an ancient and attractive village awaits you as you head for Rothbury, the end of your next stage. It's surrounded by hills and set in the Coquet Valley.

National Park Territory

You’re now heading for some remote countryside and farmland en route to Kirkwhelpington where you will enter the Northumberland National Park.

Near Rothbury, Northumberland

The walk officially ends in Heavenfield, however due to the lack of accommodation and amenities in this area, it is advised that you continue on a short distance to the villages of Wall or Chollerford. The last stage of St Oswald's Way joins with the Hadrian’s Wall Path - another one of my favourite walks!

St Oswald's Way waymarker

In summary, St Oswald's Way is a wonderful walk which would suit anyone who enjoys a mixture of historic sites and natural beauty. What's more, it offers the perfect opportunity to extend your walk with either St Cuthbert’s Way or Hadrian’s Wall Path - both of which I have been fortunate enough to experience!

Amanda MacDonald
P.S. If you're inspired to follow in the footsteps of St Oswald yourself, Absolute Escapes offer five itineraries to walk the trail over 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10 days. Our packages include carefully selected accommodation, baggage transfer, guidebook/map, and everything you'll need to have a wonderful walking holiday!

Bamburgh Castle across the North Sea

comments powered by Disqus