ELHAS Meeting Report April 2008

The April ELHAS meeting was attended by 34 members and visitors who enjoyed an illustrated talk by Brian Livesey entitled 'In the Footsteps of St Cuthbert' a description of a long distance walk undertaken by Brian and his companions from Melrose in Scotland to Lindisfarne on Holy Island, England.

Brian is a former lecturer in Information Management at Leeds Metropolitan University. Now retired, he is able to indulge his love of walking which started in his teens with visits to Youth Hostels in the Lake District.

He began his talk with a brief description of the life of St Cuthbert who lived from 635 to 687 and was at various times in his life both Prior and Bishop of Lindisfarne. The first photograph depicted St Cuthbert carrying a head, which caused much speculation in the audience. Brian explained it was the head of St Oswald which was buried with St Cuthbert's body for safekeeping when the Vikings invaded LIndisfarne. The rest of the talk concentrated on describing the 100 kilometre long distance footpath which follows places and scenes associated with St Cuthbert, though it is doubtful that St Cuthbert himself actually trod the path. Thus the walk begins in Melrose where he was born, some say of peasant stock, others the son of an Irish King. Brian described places of interest they passed through. Beginning with Melrose Abbey, the supposed home of the heart of Robert the Bruce. They then walked along the Roman road Dere Street which stretches from York to Edinburgh. Over the course of six days the walk took them past the Waterloo Monument built in 1824, Cessford Castle home of the Ker family and through delightful villages such as Kirk Yetholm, famed for it's association with gypsies who used to meet there to elect the gypsy King and Queen. Finally, they crossed the walkway onto Holy Island, and completed their walk to Lindisfarne.

The crossing to and from Holy Island had to be timed to coincide
with low tides which is the only time the island is accessible on foot. The lovely photographs of the scenes from the walk were enjoyed by all the audience, particularly two visitors who are planning to do the same walk over the coming Bank Holiday and were grateful to get the opportunity to pick Brian's brains about the potential pitfalls of the undertaking.

The talk was followed by the society's annual pea and pie supper which was a thoroughly enjoyable social occasion for all.