St Cuthbert’s Cave

Recommended by Donna 

Spurred on by the discovery of the Duddo Five stones I got to thinking about the history of local stone structures and the impact they had on our landscape. My home then was in the countryside outside of Wooler and, just a short drive (or a very long hike for me), was St Cuthbert’s cave west of Belford. Northumbrians call it Cuddy’s Cave and it’s an overhanging outcrop of sandstone rocks. Probably an hour or so will see you parked, walked up to the cave (spending a bit of time to take in the atmosphere and the coastal views at the back of the cave) and returned to the car park.

History has it that the monks of Lindisfarne laid St Cuthbert’s body to rest here following Viking raids on Holy Island. They sheltered in the caves before they left on their travels, finally settling in Durham.  The bones of St Cuthbert are now enshrined behind the main altar in Durham Cathedral. St Cuthbert was the saint of spiritual healing and there is a quiet, peaceful air to the area around Cuddy’s Cave which might support St Cuthbert and the monk’s presence here in those ancient times. 

There’s also a delicious local cheese that is named after the cave.

The Scots pine woodland surrounding the cave was once owned by the Leather family and the area was, for a time, the family burial place, being consecrated in 1936. You can see memorials to the family on isolated sandstone outcrops. Today the National Trust manage the woodland.  

Definitely pay the cave a visit. It’s straightforward to find and a great little stop off en-route to your wider adventures in the north of the county.

Google maps takes you straight to the small car park, follow the road to the very end past the farm cottages. There is a signpost on the left of the car park as you leave on foot and you just start walking up the hill. It’ll take around 10 minutes but if you have the time to spare, take double that by going at a slower pace and taking a rest stop or two to admire the countryside. As you go through the woodland gate turn left off the track and you’ll see Cuddy’s Cave. If you follow the track behind the cave you’ll come to a hillcrest, which provides beautiful views of Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle.

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