During December 2013, I began planning My Next Big Walk. I wanted a route roughly 200 miles long and I wanted mountains – or at least fells and moors. Poring over maps, guide books and the internet, I mulled over various paths and combinations of paths throughout the UK. But as usual (and predictably), I was drawn to the North of England and particularly Northumberland, which I had only visited once before. I considered two Northumbrian paths: the St Cuthbert’s Way (Melrose to Lindisfarne) but quickly plumped for the second path – the St Oswald’s Way. The latter starts at Heavenfield on Hadrian’s Wall, cuts across to the North Sea at Warkworth and then mostly hugs the coast to Lindisfarne. And if I walked beyond Holy Island, I could finish at Berwick-upon-Tweed; practically on the Scottish border. It sounded perfect – if a little short at just over 100 miles. But if the St Oswald’s Way starts on Hadrian’s Wall why not arrive at Heavenfield on foot along the Hadrian’s Wall Path from Carlisle? And if I started the Wall Path at Carlisle, I could tack on the 70-odd mile Cumbria Way too.
And so my plans evolved and my walk took shape. After working out how many miles I could cover each day and where to over-night, I pre-booked 16 night’s accommodation. I would walk for 15 days, on a 220 mile trek from Ulverston on Morecambe Bay (following a not very straight line) to Berwick. In March 2014, I set off from my home in Seaford, East Sussex and arrived 7 hours later in Ulverston on a warm, sunny afternoon but quite convinced that such fine weather would fizzle out within a day or two.
Here is an account of my walk, sub-divided into its three parts: