How it Works

  • 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

Northern Cross: How it all works & More about us

Northern Cross is run by those who take part, a volunteer group of ordinary Christians.
All the preparations are done in their spare time.

There are traditionally 2 or 3 main walking groups, or Legs as we call them, which are named after their associations with locations. Carlisle, Melrose and Lanark start in those named towns. Haddington / Dunbar used to start in those locations but has also started in Edinburgh. Bellingham was originally named and from Newcastle, moved to Hexham, then was named Northumbrian (as it has always been a walk almost entirely in the county of Northumberland). Additional legs have been added to this number as the occasion suggests.

The course of these legs are not always fixed with some evolving new routes over the years.
The legs normally stay in church or village halls, as often the villages we stop overnight in are very small usually, It’s the only logical accommodation as there can be up to 20 walking in each group; we bring our own bedding and food. It’s like indoor camping.

Each leg has a leader who has overall responsibility for the leg as a group of people, then there are one or two secretaries who organises the walking guides, liturgy, the halls or stops and transport. Someone is usually nominated to organise the shopping and food. Then pilgrims from the group (usually those who’ve walked before) also carry out roles as support drivers, taking turns to drive the support car and the other cars to tramsport luggage ahead at the start of each day.

Each day the groups follow a similar pattern, eating breakfast self-service style, packing the cars, making sandwiches, then departing as a walking group with the cross. The walking is broken up by frequent stops for drinks & biscuits, and each morning and afternoon there is a ‘station‘ – where one pilgrim will reflect on thoughts, suggest some prayers, or other thoughts for general contemplation. In the evening the group prepare and eat their meal together, and people are free to relax and rest as they choose. There is typically a short service either at the start or end of the day but it depends on the route and settlements we are visiting.

At the end of the week when we reach Lindisfarne each Leg holds a meeting to elect a new leader and secretary to run the leg next year and discuss how the walk might be improved for next year, these recommendations are included in the leg report for our annual general meeting or AGM.

On Holy Island, Northern Cross holds a Annual Review (General Meeting) on the Easter Saturday, to receive the leg reports, discuss ideas to improve, promote or manage it and elect a coordinator, and members to the various committees.

If you would like more information, see our FAQs here, or would like to speak in person to a representative of Northern Cross please go to our Contact page. If you are interested in walking with us this next Easter and would like to sign up please go to our Booking / Registration page.