The Catholic Parish of
Saint John Henry Newman

 Covering most of East Leeds

Parish Magazine - Nov/Dec 2004

Page 8 of 21 Read 706 Times


History tells us that in about 635AD, St Aidan left the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland to travel to Northumbria where he was to meet King Oswald in an effort to promote Christianity. It is believed the successful meeting took place at the royal castle of Bamburgh resulting in Bishop Aidan, as he then was, being allowed to build a monastery on the island of Lindisfarne, now better known as the Holy Island. A school was incorporated within the monastery but in addition to teaching skills, the Bishop and his monks walked miles on the mainland in spreading the faith.

St Aidan died in 651AD whilst resting against a wooden buttress which, it is claimed, took on miraculous qualities. There is good reason to suppose that the buttress is one and the same as that now in situ in the Church of his name in Bamburgh.

So what has all of this to do with our Parish Walking Group? Well in early October, 12 members (only one male) spent several days at the welcoming Sunningdale Hotel in Bamburgh, still the site of a most impressive castle occupied by the Armstrong family which has tenuous links with Crossgates (the Armstrong-Vickers armaments factory). The visit, in deep contrast to our earlier breaks in North Yorkshire, provided miles and miles of beach walking and despite the relatively poor weather of the summer, we were blessed with dry albeit windy days. All in all, the walks took us from Budle Bay, passing Bamburgh which is also renowned for the bravery of Grace Darling, the resort of Seahouses, Beadnall, Newton by the Sea, Craster (famous for kippers), and Boulmer, all interesting locations in their own right. As well as an abundance of bird life and seals, we had the 'pleasure' of being helped along Embleton Bay by a wind-driven sand storm. Every day there were views of at least one of the castles of Bamburgh, Lindisfarne and Dunstanburgh as well as the seventeen Farne Islands.

Having visited the St Aidan buttress in the church at Bamburgh, the scene was then set for a visit to be made to the Holy Island. Whilst yours truly 'abandoned ship' at the island causeway to walk back to Bamburgh (I have been there several times previously and the others needed a rest!!), the ladies ventured onto the island for a most enjoyable day. Visiting Lindisfarne Castle, the Priory and Catholic Church, a short walk was undertaken as well as trying out the local mead and gift shops. For some it was their first visit but for regulars, there is always another new find to be experienced.

The holiday was most successful with exhilarating walks and good accommodation and much to discover in an area teeming with historical events. It may well be that the roots of Christianity in the north and midlands are based in the area but it was also the location for some awesome Anglo-Saxon power battles.

The dismay of returning to the hum-drum of Leeds was overcome to a certain extent by what became a scenic tour of the wild northern Pennine Dales with stops made at Rothbury and Allendale.
We have now returned to our local walks programme. Occasionally, however, and as happened recently at St Gregory's Minster near Kirkby Moorside, we come across the influence of such as St Cedd, a pupil from the monastery of St Aidan which highlights how successful was the adventure undertaken by the saint and his monks in originally travelling to Northumbria.

Parishioners of any age are most welcome to join us on any of our walks. Midweek walks are generally about 7 miles long with Saturday walks a little more demanding. If you are capable, and you only need to be of average fitness, we can guarantee an enjoyable experience.

Brian Smith

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Published Mon 27th Dec 2004 18:21:50

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