5th September 2020 – Marie Ness, Project Manager St. Cuthbert’s Three-Church Trail
Bishop Christine was one of the many Pilgrims that set out from St. Cuthbert’s Elsdon on Saturday 5th September to bless the official launch of the St. Cuthbert’s Three-Church Trail from Elsdon, via St. Cuthbert’s Corsenside and then on to Cuddy’s Well and St. Cuthbert’s Bellingham.
As we set off across the village green and up into the hills we stopped to remind each other of Cuthbert “stories”. We recalled how Cuthbert himself had seen a light in the sky and the next day had learned Saint Aidan had died, and so prompted Cuthbert followed his vocation and joined the monastic community at Melrose.
The St. Cuthbert’s Three-Church Trail Group have worked with Revitalising Redesdale to provide waymarkers along the Trail and improve the crossing at Smoutel Ford, which is passable when the River Rede is low. Unfortunately after a wet August we were not able to cross the Ford. However in blessing the newly installed Ford Bishop Christine also reminded us that in life just as on our pilgrimage walk today we often are faced with barriers that we have to overcome and find ways around. In the distance we could see St. Cuthbert’s Corsenside on the top of the hill, we were rewarded in our detour with deep conversations with new and old friends, more Cuthbert stories, wandering paths and rushing streams. Up the hill we walked once more on the steady climb up to the simple peace and tranquility of St. Cuthbert’s Corsenside.
Fortified by our picnic lunch in West Woodburn, where many friends joined us, some to continue with us on our journey, others to encourage and support friends on their way. Undeterred by a sharp shower we continued across country and on a bridge where the River Rede meets the North Tyne stopped for rest and to listen to the story of Cuthbert and the Otters who lovingly warmed Cuthbert’s feet after he had sought solitude in the sea.
Eventually we emerged from the Riverside path to arrive at “Cuddy’s” Well Bellingham, a natural Spring said to have never dried up since St. Cuthbert blessed it, and linked to miraculous cures over the centuries. Most of the pilgrims certainly partook of the metallic tasting water to quench their thirst. After a blessing at the Well we ascended the steps to St. Cuthbert’s Bellingham where we had prayers including special thanks for Revd. Dr Susan Ramsaran who has played a major part in the Trail’s creation and has written the St. Cuthbert’s Three-Church Trail booklet and retires after St. Cuthbert’s Festival Weekend. Bishop Christine expressed her strong support for the installation of steps and a pathway to connect Cuddy’s Well and St. Cuthbert’s Church Bellingham, emphasising that it will encourage more visitors and importantly further the development of spiritual pilgrimage in Northumberland.
The three St. Cuthbert churches are also working together on the Rural Churches for Everyone project. The Trail and the installation of steps at St. Cuthbert’s Bellingham is very much part of the sustainable future for these churches, communities and our St. Cuthbert’s Heritage. If you would like a copy of the St. Cuthbert’s Three-Church Trail booklet written by Revd. Dr Susan Ramsaran please e-mail Marie Ness firstname.lastname@example.org If you would like to make a donation to the further development of the St. Cuthbert’s Three-Church Trail you can donate via the Diocese Donate page https://www.give.net/3churchtrail/oneoff
Article and photos:
Marie Ness, Project Manager St. Cuthbert’s Three-Church Trail
Jill Swaile, Churchwarden St. Peter’s Falstone