Northern Saints Trail Launched in Durham

The new Northern Saints Trails that tell the stories of the region’s saints and their local connections with the North East have been launched.

Making a modern day pilgrimage: Northern Saints Trail Launched in Durham

The Northern Saints Trails is six new walking routes that organisers hope will position North East England as the Christian Crossroads of the British Isles.

The six new routes recognise the role Durham Cathedral has played as a destination for pilgrims for centuries and are designed to bring the stories of the region’s saints to life whilst showcasing the best of the area’s landscapes, heritage, attractions and food and drink – and boost local and international tourism.

The Reverend Canon Charlie Allen, Canon Chancellor, said: “Durham Cathedral came into being as a place in which pilgrims arriving at the Shrine of St Cuthbert were welcomed for prayer and hospitality.

“The six new Northern Saints Trails link contemporary pilgrims to the lives of the Northern Saints – Aidan, Cuthbert, Oswald, Hild and Bede. A warm welcome awaits, and we trust that pilgrims of all faiths and none will rejoice in that which is to be discovered on this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

The Northern Saints Trails should have been launched in 2020 but were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and last week, partners from Durham Cathedral, Visit County Durham, and the local authority and marketing boards came together to launch the project.

Ivor Stolliday, chairman of Visit County Durham, said:

“Not only do they bring the ancient pilgrimage routes to life for the modern visitor, but the trails will have an extremely positive impact on our visitor economy – enhancing our authentic tourism offer and cementing the North East’s reputation as a destination to make a pilgrimage to, at a time when consumers are searching for new experiences.”

The Northern Saints Trails could also provide vital business support at a time when recovery from the pandemic is ongoing, with over 500 businesses and venues along the routes featured on the Northern Saints Trails website and promoted within marketing activity.

A passport scheme will also drive footfall for participating businesses, encouraging visitors to seek out places in order to collect unique stamps as a record of their visit.

Locations include Durham Cathedral, Great North Museum, Hancock in Newcastle, and Hexham Abbey in Northumberland.

Durham County Councillor Elizabeth Scott, portfolio holder for economy and partnerships, said: “The Northern Saints Trails will play a key role in assisting the visitor economy of County Durham and the wider region to build back better, providing businesses with a new and engaging way to target customers.

 “As the county bids to become UK City of Culture 2025, which will also bring benefits to the North East as a whole, the Northern Saints Trails bring our fascinating shared history and heritage to life, enriching the lives of our communities, and creating exciting new cultural activities.”

For details visit northernsaints.com

The trails are being promoted through the website and trails leaflets have been distributed across the region’s visitor information networks.

Pic Caption: Cutting of the ribbon to officially unveil the Northern Saints Trails

L-R: Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Portfolio Holder for Economy and Partnerships at Durham County Council; Ivor Stolliday, chairman of Visit County Durham; The Reverend Canon Charlie Allen