Nature wardens to celebrate the life of St Cuthbert with twin beacons

Plans have been announced to mark St Cuthbert's Day by lighting beacons on both sides of the Scottish Border

Beacon
Beacon

Beacons will be lit on both sides of the Scottish Border to mark the role played by St Cuthbert in caring for wildlife.

One fire will be lit on the Inner Farne on St Cuthbert’s Day to commemorate the man who has been called Northumbria’s first nature warden.

At the same time another beacon will be seen at St Abb’s Head, Scotland, to remember that the ancient kingdom of Northumbria stretched across the modern border and which was also a site associated with Cuthbert.

A walk-out will take place on Holy Island to view the twin blazes.

The fires echo the beacon lit by monks at Inner Farne to tell the community at Lindisfarne about the death of Cuthbert and will link three National Nature Reserves at Lindisfarne, Inner Farne, and St Abb’s.

Wardens at all three sites are looking forward to the event on Thursday, September 4.

The event coordinator is local historian and volunteer warden John Woodhurst who said Cuthbert is known as the Fire of the North which is also the term given to the day’s activities.

He said: “St Cuthbert was the inspiration for the Lindisfarne Gospels and for Durham Cathedral, but it’s also amazing that there are three such internationally important national nature reserves so close together in our region that all had significant links with Cuthbert.

“You’ve heard of the Angel of the North – well that’s nothing compared with the ‘Fire of the North’. Cuthbert is the heartbeat of our region and we are reminded of his love of the animal kingdom and the natural world, along with his deep spirituality, whenever we visit our nature reserves today.”

The event was prompted by the success of a single beacon lit on Inner Farne last year.

Andrew Craggs, senior reserve manager on Lindisfarne NNR said today’s wardens take inspiration from St Cuthbert.

He said: “Once we get to know about his life, people working on nature reserves, especially in the North East, regard Cuthbert as one of the earliest nature wardens.

“It was great to link ourselves with the Inner Farne last year through the beacon fire.

“This year we’re going one better by including another fabulous nature reserve with a Cuthbert link – St Abb’s Head.

“I can’t wait to see the beacon fires on the Inner Farne and St Abb’s Head from Lindisfarne on September 4”.

Liza Cole, the National Trust for Scotland’s senior ranger at St Abb’s Head said she was pleased to renew links with the Farne Islands.

She said: “We’re really pleased to link with our two outstanding neighbour nature reserves across the border. In Cuthbert’s time such a border didn’t exist – we were all part of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria.

“Circumstances have changed but all of us who work in nature reserves still value the importance that Cuthbert gave to the natural world and the animal kingdom. That is timeless and knows no boundaries.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the beacon fire on Inner Farne from ours at St Abb’s Head. Let’s just hope that the weather doesn’t rain, or blow, on our parade.

A free series of walks and lectures at all three sites will be included in the celebration.

For more information call Lindisfarne - 01289 381470, Inner Farne - 01665 576874, St Abb’s Head – 01890 771443.

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