The great Easter pilgrimage crosses the causeway

REFLECTIVE Christians carried wooden crosses on their annual Easter pilgrimage to Holy Island yesterday.

Pilgrims donned thick coats for their Good Friday trek
Pilgrims donned thick coats for their Good Friday trek

REFLECTIVE Christians carried wooden crosses on their annual Easter pilgrimage to Holy Island yesterday.

Up to 60 pilgrims reached the penultimate stage of their nine-day walk across Northumberland yesterday with the picturesque trek to the cradle of Christianity.

Following in the ancient footsteps of St Cuthbert, the Northern Cross pilgrims carried their crosses proudly across the causeway links.

Four groups taking different routes throughout Holy Week met up on the north Northumberland coast to make the Good Friday Pilgrims’ Crossing.

And after all the bad weather of late, they were blessed with brilliant sunshine – although temperatures hovered around the four-degree mark.

Later the Easter ceremonies gathered pace, with Father Paul Nicholson SJ, Director of Novices for the Jesuit Order, who joined the walk, celebrating the Easter liturgies with the pilgrims on Lindisfarne.

Co-ordinator Margaret Williams, Northern Cross 2013 co-ordinator, said last night: “We got the good weather at just the right time and we all certainly enjoyed the sunshine after walking through snow for most of the week.

“The walk went fine for us, and all the groups arrived on time.

“Northumberland County Council even closed the road to the island especially for us, which was very good of them.

“There wasn’t a wind-chill factor, which also helped, and our oldest walker was a 70-year-old lady, while our youngest was a three-year-old boy.

“We had an ecumenical service on the island to finish a wonderful day that everyone has enjoyed to the full.”

Meanwhile, devotees 60 miles away on the mainland in Durham carried out their own special Easter pilgrimage.

Almost 20 people made the three-mile trek from St John’s Vicarage at Snods Edge, Shotley Bridge, to St Andrew’s Church at Kiln Pit Hill, just across the Northumberland border.

They made their way across snow-covered terrain, one member bearing an 8ft cross.

As they wound their way between the two churches, the Rev David Wood of St John’s performed readings and hymns.

He said: “It was very cold and the snow was quite deep in places, but once we got out there the sun was shining brightly.

“The purpose of the ceremony is to remind people of the real messages of Easter and the sacrifices Jesus made.”

A 6.30am dawn ceremony will take place tomorrow at St Andrew’s Church, which is normally closed but is part of the Churches Conservation Trust.

St John’s will host a 10.30am Easter Sunday service.

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