A walk of about 4 miles from St Abbs village to the lighthouse on St Abbs Head and back. The paths are steep and narrow in places and so not wheelchair suitable.
A walk from a small seaside village along cliff tops with stunning views of the sea below. Then up a steep hill to a lighthouse, down to a small loch, then back to the village.
How to get there
About 10 miles north of Berwick on Tweed on the A1, you will see a right hand turn (heading North) signposted Coldingham and St Abbs on the B6438. Take this road and follow it to Coldingham. At Coldingham village, turn left at the 'T' junction, then take a right hand turn signposted St Abbs. Follow this road through the village, narrow in places, then once out of the village, over a hill and into St Abbs. This is a small fishing village. There is limited public parking down at the harbour, and more parking alongside the pitch and put golf course. The postcode for the visitor centre in St Abbs is TD14 5PL. Parking is either below or beside here.
You can see a map of the route here.
Walking, follow the roadway back they way you came, heading out of St Abbs past the church. At one point, the footpath goes behind a wall to keep you away from traffic. At the end of the wall, cross the road and take the footpath leading away from the road, signposted 'Path to St Abbs Head'. After a short way, you go through a gateway and onto the footpath on top of the cliffs. Follow the path along the cliffs, over the hill, and down a steep path to the sea again.
The pathway now climbs again and runs past a fenced in area below a steep hill. At the end of the fence by a gate, take the opportunity to climb the hill on the right. This is Kirk Hill, the site of the Aebbe's wooden monastery, though no trace remains now. It is well worth carefully exploring the cliff tops to see the spectacular views of the sea below, but please take care and keep your dog under control, it looked a long way down. Keep climbing and following the cliffs and you will eventually come to a lighthouse.
Go round the lighthouse on the landward side, and just past it, find a path that leads you down the hill to a walled enclosure. From here, follow the path down to the Mire Loch. If you have any energy left you can turn right and walk right round the loch. Otherwise keep on going to the end of the loch, turn left and that path will bring you back to the gateway where you started to climb up onto the cliffs. Follow the path back to St Abbs, but remember that steep path you came down? Now you need to climb up it again.
Aebbe was a Northumbrian Princess and a remarkable woman from what little we know about her. Aebbe was the daughter of King Aethelfrith of Bernicia and when he was killed in battle by Edwin of Diera, Aebbe and her siblings went into exile to Dal Riata in the west of Scotland, where she converted to Christianity. There is a story that she became a nun and went into a nunnery to avoid marrying a Scottish Prince. Prince Aidan did not give in easily, he was determined to marry Aebbe, and he followed her to the nunnery and intended to carry her off. Aebbe fled to a high rock by the sea and the tide came in, cutting her off from Aidan on the shore. He waited for the tide to go out, but Aebbe prayed for help and the tide remained high for three days, forcing Aidan to recognise that Aebbe had divine protection.
After a few more regal changes, Aebbe's brother Oswiu became king and Aebbe was able to return to Northumberland, where according to the Venerable Bede she founded a monastery in Yorkshire.
Some time later, Aebbe was captured by one of the rival Northumbrian factions, but she escaped in a small boat down the River Humber. The boat was then guided by an angel up the coast to Berwickshire, where it landed in a natural harbour in the rocks (thought to be Horsecastle Bay). She then decided to found a new monastery in Urbs Coludi, which is identified with Kirk Hill on St Abb's head, the promotory to the north of the villages. The settlers protected the monastery with a three-metre-high turf rampart on the landward side, and this still exists as a low ridge around the rim of the hill. This is all that is left of Aebbe's monastery as the monks and nuns lived in basic beehive huts made from mud and branches and no trace of these remain.