The Trails portray the region’s Saints and their stories, set against a backdrop of the very best of the region’s attractions, landscapes, places to eat and drink and visitor accommodation. The Trails are rooted in the region’s considerable Christian heritage but walking and pilgrimage appeal to those of other faiths or those who are not religious; motivations to walk the trails will vary from relaxation, personal spirituality, a walking challenge, the chance to get back to nature and discover stunning landscapes, health and well-being, family activities or to uncover the region’s fascinating history.
The Routes and the Saints
1. The Way of Light– St Cuthbert & St Wilfrid associations
Heavenfield/Hexham to Durham
Distance 45 miles or 72 kilometres
2. The Way of Life – route begins at St Mary’s Well, between Gainford church and the River Tees, a symbol of life, also St Cuthbert associations
Gainford to Durham
Distance 29 miles or 47 kilometres
Information on The Way of Life
The Way of Life is one wondrous route: healing waters, one of England ’s oldest churches and a palatial castle where Prince Bishops once resided, plus places where St Cuthbert made miracles occur. The Way of Life commences in the most rejuvenative manner possible at one of Durham’s loveliest villages, the spa village of Gainford: a vital early Christian settlement raised around St Mary’s Church and Well, alongside waters thought to have had healing properties since pagan times.
Holy places lie scattered all along this trail. There is the captivating but understated Escomb Saxon Church, perhaps England’s oldest still-complete Saxon church. There is the ancient residence of the Prince Bishops of Durham, Auckland Castle, only recently restored to its full glory. Then there are the tales of two different miracles attributed to St Cuthbert to unravel as you forge north towards Durham Cathedral.
This is alongside some jaw-dropping monuments to the people that once made their living hereabouts: one of the biggest Roman fortifications in Northern Britain, Binchester Roman Fort, and the locomotive legacy of the world’s first passenger carrying, steam operated, public railway, built by George Stephenson, at Etherley Incline. Nor does the path stay stuck in the past: just tarry in revitalised Bishop Auckland to see how history has been honed into some fascinating new attractions.
As it twists through gentle farmland, woodland, parkland and riverside, and via some sensational country cafés, pubs, hotels and spas, The Way of Life is a walk that soothes more than it tires. If its final climb, Mountjoy, is anything to go by, it will leave hikers feeling very happy indeed.
3. The Way of Love – association with St Hilda, and King Canute’s pilgrimage in 1020 as an
act of devotion
Durham to Hartlepool.
Distance 28 miles or 45.5 kilometres
4. The Way of Learning – St Bede, one of the greatest historical scholars association
Jarrow to Durham
Distance 38 miles or 61 kilometres
5. The Angel’s Way – Angel of the North, St Cuthbert and St Mary associations
Seaton Sluice to Chester le Street
Distance 30 miles or 48 kilometres
6.The Way of the Sea – St Oswald associations, mostly navigates along the coast and
follows England’s Coastal Path, connecting with the Way of Learning at Jarrow
Warkworth to North Shields
Distance 38 miles or 61 kilometres
In Gainford Church, you will find a stamp for your Pilgrimage Passport (also available) and Postcards, Prayer Cards and Leaflets/Maps to guide you on your way.