FAQs

  • Easter Sunday – decorated crosses in St Mary’s church, Holy Island of Lindisfarne
  • Good Friday – a Leg group approaches the tidal causeway
  • Holy Island Crossing

> When does the pilgrimage start?
> How do I get to the start point?
> How much do I have to carry?
> How difficult is the walking?
> How much does it cost?
> Where do I send my application?
> What does the cost include?
> Boots and Waterproofs…
> Additional points to consider?
> Where do I stay / where do we sleep?
> What about liability?
> How can we get back from Lindisfarne / Holy Island?
> Who is organising the pilgrimage?
> Our children’s school term won’t have finished by Holy Week – what can we do?
> Can I join you just for the Good Friday crossing?

When does the pilgrimage start?

Walking groups (legs) gather on either the Friday evening (most groups) or Saturday evening (some, occasionally) before Palm Sunday – so that’s one week before Easter. We actually start the walking fairly promptly on the morning of the following day – Saturday for most groups. We will have some form of gathering around the cross to mark our coming together as pilgrims.

How do I get to the start point?

Carlisle is accessible directly by train. Dunbar/ Haddington can be reached by bus or train from Edinburgh. Lanark is accessible by train (typically via Edinburgh) and Melrose is reachable by bus from Berwick-on-Tweed. Bellingham is nearest to Hexham which can be reached by train, and it will typically be possible to make a pick up from Hexham railway station, by prior arrangement. Family Leg is typically located just off the A1 so is well connected by road for those MPV journeys, although liaison over Hexham/ Berwick railway station pickups may be possible by prior arrangement.
*Note that only a selection of the above Legs(routes) are run in any one year and this depends on interest and leadership. The starting point of any other Legs mentioned varies from year to year.

How much do I have to carry?

Just your choice of daysac. Throughout the pilgrimage we will have support cars* to transfer the baggage and the exhausted. All that needs to be carried on the pilgrimage itself, aside from the cross, is a daysac, with essentials as waterproofs, and any personal snacks, energy bars etc.

*Note: the exception to this is the occasional format of the ‘Extreme’ Leg where support cars are not available – for this operates as an unsupported walking group, solely dependent on what the walkers carry on their backs. Some legs also have some days crossing terrain where the nearest roads are quite some distance away and so for a car pickup mid-walk, walkers would need to specially divert ‘sideways’ away from that day’s route. However most legs operate with full support as described.

How difficult is the walking?
Each leg varies – the best descriptions are on the individual Leg pages. However please note that many of the routes include sections both exposed and high up, which in inclement weather can become temporarily unpleasant if you are not prepared with suitable wet weather gear etc! However we would emphasise that whilst weather in the Borders of England/Scotland can be unpredictable, our support vehicle is available to carry those who are in need. It is important to understand that walking 70 to 120 miles in a week is physically challenging, but not beyond the capabilities of most people.

Not everyone necessarily walks all the way; there are jobs for car drivers, shoppers and cooks. The physical demand of Northern Cross is to have the will to go on and walk for several days in succession. Although many pilgrims manage well with little preparation (our frequent quick stops are the key to breaking up a long day’s walk) it is a good idea to have a few substantial practice walks first, to harden your feet. We are also joined from time to time by local people who help to share our burden. We can cater for all ages – from family groups with babies/ toddlers through to teenage children, to students, to those mid-life, and those retired. All are certainly welcome.

How much does it cost?

The charge for walking with Northern Cross is in the approximate region of £160 (but varies by different group/Legs due to individual route costs), and this includes all food and accommodation. Note Family Leg has a different price structure, see Leg page for details. A small non-refundable deposit of £20 is required to secure a place. The balance of payment is to be made either by late February or as requested by the Leg leadership team. More details can be given by the Leg leadership when you choose your intended Leg.

A limited number of subsidised places are available at reduced rates, supported from central Northern Cross funds and by voluntary contributions from other walkers. Typical beneficiaries would be students and low/unwaged. If you wish to apply for a subsidised place, please indicate when you apply, and this will be confirmed further to you. To discuss a booking to walk, or the possibility of a reduced rate, please contact the Coordinator via the contact page.

Where do I send my application?

Please use the online booking form available here and provide all the necessary details. We will then get in touch with you.

What does the cost include?

The charge covers all accommodation, breakfast, packed lunches, evening meals, and all the associated luggage support transport from the start of the Legs through to the end of the pilgrimage on Lindisfarne on Easter Sunday lunchtime. Additional costs are limited to your cost in getting to the start point, and in returning from Lindisfarne (lifts or taxis to Berwick train station (30 minutes journey) can be arranged but should be costed for). During the pilgrimage additional costs will be the price of any extra drinks, chocolate, snacks or odd lunchtime pints, or such like that you may wish to buy. Please note that cash points are limited to the major settlements of which there are few, so apart from pubs accepting cards, please remember to also bring cash with you.

Boots and Waterproofs.

It is essential that anyone embarking on this pilgrimage has good walking boots or stout shoes that are bedded in, and waterproofs (including leggings). Without these, it can make the experience extremely miserable, never mind painful if you have unsuitable footwear.

Additional points to consider?

If anyone who is considering applying for the pilgrimage is unsure as to their suitability on health grounds they should check with their doctor / GP. It is also strongly recommended that all pilgrims take out insurance cover (for loss or damage to personal property & personal accident cover) for the walk. While Northern Cross is insured for public liability purposes this does not cover loss or damage to individuals personal property & personal accident.

Where do I stay / where do we sleep?

Remember that accommodation is not luxurious – this is not a typical holiday – night stops range from village hall floors (typically) to Youth Hostels (occasionally), so more or less all accommodation will be communal. On Lindisfarne itself the SVP hostel is simple, but provided with beds and showers in small group dormitories.

What about liability?

Northern Cross as an organisation is insured for public liability purposes for the duration of the pilgrimage. As noted elsewhere, this does not cover loss or damage to individuals personal property & personal accident. Everyone who comes on the pilgrimage comes at his or her own risk, and it is up to you to decide if personal insurance cover is required.

How can we get back from Lindisfarne / Holy Island?

The pilgrimage finishes after lunch on Easter Sunday, and dependent on tide times (details here) for the tidal vehicle causeway, everyone departs very soon after. The nearest railway station is Berwick upon Tweed (30 minutes drive away) where there are reasonable coach and rail links to London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Although it is ultimately up to individuals to arrange either lifts or shared taxis to the railway station, or to destinations southwards in England as desired, in practice a lift share noticeboard is usually operated to coordinate return journeys where possible. Northern Cross does not provide any official transport off Lindisfarne at the end of the pilgrimage.

Who is organising the pilgrimage?

Northern Cross is run by those who take part, a volunteer group of ordinary Christians. All the preparations are done in their spare time. It is not a profit-making business-type operation in which a service is delivered to those who pay the charge. Everyone who comes on the pilgrimage is expected to participate to make the pilgrimage a valuable Easter experience for all.

What we do, we do for ourselves, so please come along with a willing and generous spirit. You will have plenty of opportunity to demonstrate your tea and sandwich making skills. We do all our own cooking, washing-up and loading the support vehicles, so we ask all pilgrims during the walk to play their part in helping out with various duties. We also organise our own music and liturgy, and welcome contributions, so please make any particular music skills known to the Leg leadership team beforehand as this is always good to know when planning the pilgrimage.

Our children’s school term won’t have finished by Holy Week – what can we do?

Please contact the Coordinator for advice if you have children in school whose term dates clash with part of the pilgrimage dates. Use the contact form here or make a special comment on the booking form here.

Can I join you just for the Good Friday crossing?

‘Non-pilgrims’ are certainly welcome to walk alongside us crossing the sands, but we prefer if you can meet us earlier that day and walk with us from the day’s starting point rather than just joining at Beal Sands. We also ask you note & follow the instructions given here.