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Bede's Way Walk 2013

Bede's Way Walk Mad Hatter22 July 2013

On a gloriously sunny day in July, a collection of intrepid walkers made the trek from the monastic site of St Peter’s Church, Sunderland, to Bede’s World in Jarrow, hiking fells and scenic countryside just as the venerable monk would have done fourteen centuries ago.

Because it is the year that the Lindisfarne Gospels return to the region, this already spiritual walk acquired an added spiritual touch in the minds of our dedicated ramblers.

I may not be the venerable Bede, but I am now going to guide you through his footsteps, on the stages of this 12-mile crusade against poverty, taking in some of the traditional sights, and meeting some new and interesting characters along the way.

Storytelling, waterfowl and cake!

The three marshalled groups set off from Monkwearmouth’s beautiful 7th-century church and through the seaside areas of Roker and Seaburn, to be met by none other than the Mad Hatter himself!

With a hint of galumphing, a touch of Jabberwocky and of course his ceremonial teapot, our distinguished guest entertained our walkers through to the delightful and secluded town of Whitburn, with its magnificent 13th-century church. Once our short time with Mr Hatter was up, we all felt as if we had accidentally slipped down the rabbit’s hole ourselves!

The storytelling continued as the walkers were entertained by local writer and broadcaster John Grundy, at one of the most beautiful settings in the region. Cleadon Mill boasted terrific views of South Tyneside and Wearside, and was where our walkers were refreshed with tea and sandwiches, as well as some delightful stories from Mr Grundy. This magical storyteller whiled away the time, telling us tales of the area – including a past rich in matters spiritual, industrial expansion and... football!

Next, our walkers moved through the rural corridors of various nature reserves, including an edible forest and a wood with more than two thousand trees. Later, where the bridleway follows the River Don, our troops were blessed with the sight of waterfowl and even the glint of metal from an occasional ‘trolley fish’!

Without stopping at The Jarrow Brewery (responsible for making its own real ale - apparently), our intrepid hikers pushed on past the Church of St Paul to Bede’s World, a wonderful museum dedicated to life in early Anglo-Saxon Britain. From here the finish line beckoned, and with the thought of tea and cake waiting there, some tired legs somehow managed a ‘second wind’.

In this truly delightful day, a wonderful time was had by all, and vital money was raised to help some of the poorest families in the world today.

We hope to see you next year, travelling the Bede’s Way Walk.

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