Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Northern Saints Project?

A: The Northern Saints Trails project is set within the context of the region’s considerable Christian Heritage and the development of six long distance walking routes based on existing ancient pilgrimage routes. The trails will appeal to those of other faiths or those simply looking for their own personal spirituality, escapism, exercise, peace and tranquility. Some may wish to rise to the challenge of long-distance trails, others will dip in and out of shorter sections of the routes for a short walk or to visit attractions and churches, and enjoy a local hostelry or tearoom. The project has been funded by Durham County Council through Visit County Durham, with match funding from partners from across the region. afternoon teas or visit a welcoming country pub.

Q: What are the projects aims and objectives?

A: The main aim is to explore ways we can position and raise awareness of North East England as the ‘Christian Crossroads of the British Isles’. This will be achieved through portraying the region’s saints and their stories set against the backdrop of the very best of the North East’s attractions, landscapes, places to eat and drink and visitor accommodation. We will be highlighting six routes, inspiring and training community volunteers, and marketing the theme regionally, nationally and internationally.

Q: Which routes have been identified and are included in the initiative? East:

A:        

  1. The Way of Light:                    Heavenfield/Hexham – Durham
  2. The Way of Life:                     Gainford – Durham
  3. The Way of Love:                   Hartlepool – Durham
  4. The Way of Learning:             Jarrow – Durham
  5. The Angel’s Way:                   Seaton Sluice-Newcastle-Gateshead-Chester-le-Street
  6. The Way of the Sea:               Warkworth - North Shields

The routes can be walked in either direction for any duration visitors choose. Visitors can select their own combination of attraction highlights, places to eat and drink and to stay overnight if they’re visiting the area from further afield.

There are also two connecting routes to Lindisfarne and Heavenfield, near Hexham from Warkworth. These run along the existing St Oswald’s Way and England’s Coastal Path

Q: Who decided on the routes and stories?

A: Durham Cathedral commissioned research into the stories of the better-known saints and the routes associated with them. The routes were agreed by all the stakeholders in the Northern Saints regional steering group.

Q: Have the North East Local Access Forums (LAFs) been involved?

A: Yes, the project has been presented to the LAFs in Northumberland (in Hexham), Tyne & Wear (Gateshead) and Durham. We have received very supportive and positive responses and endorsement from all these Local Access Forums.

Q: Are the routes just for Christian pilgrims?

A: No, the routes are based on existing pilgrim routes and will be an attraction for all those interested in pilgrimage. However, they also very much act as a network of well-maintained visitor routes for all visitors by linking stunning landscapes, nature, architecture, attractions, churches, places to eat and visitor accommodation.

Q: Which business and attractions will be included on the routes?

There are currently more than 500 business and attractions to be found along the six routes. These have been identified by the local destination management organisations and the majority are not more than 2 miles from the routes. These can all be found on the individual trails section of www.northernsaints.com

Q: How will the routes be promoted?

Along with the Northern Saints website www.northernsaints.com , fold out maps will be circulated at attractions and business along the routes. The Northern Saints project will also be covered in the media, through relevant print titles and in social media channels.

Q: How will the routes be waymarked?

Most routes will carry wayfinder discs to varying degrees along the routes. Detailed navigation of the routes is available via the website and can be accessed through your smart phone or mobile device. Wayfinder discs will be more prevalent in some areas than others as this is at the discretion of local Rights of Way officer. The wayfinder discs are there to reassure visitors they on the right path. If you have any comments about signage, the condition of the routes or navigating the trails, please use the feedback form on www.northernsaints.com We will pass all comments about the routes on to those best placed to respond in the local authority area.

Q: When will the project be completed?

A: The first phase of the project and completion of the routes was due to be completed in March 2020, but the launch was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we ‘soft launched’ the Northern Saints website www.northernsaints.com in July  2020 In line with regional and national guidance, we only targeted local and in-region visitors. It is hoped, subject to the easing of pandemic restrictions, to fully launch the project in Spring or Summer 2021.

Q: When will the Northern Saints project be rolled out and promoted?

A: Please see below the main project activities and dates

NOW Website: You can already access the website www.northernsaints.com

NOW Northern Saints Route Fold Out Maps: Where the restrictions have allowed, we have distributed the six-fold out route maps at the region’s attractions along the routes.

NOW Route Waymarking: Most of the routes have been waymarked to varying degrees. Visitors can navigate along their routes through either using the detailed route descriptions on the website or they can navigate on the move using smart phones or mobile devices. Wayfinders have been installed by the local Rights of Way teams to reassure visitors that they’re on the right track, rather than act as post-to-post navigation tool.

NOW Northern Saints Visitor Guides: We have produced a 55-page visitor guide which will retail at £5. We will announce how you can purchase guides online and through regional outlets in the coming months

2021 Northern Saints Trails Passport: We have now launched the Northern Saints Passport. Visitors and residents can now purchase the passport (£2+ a £1 handling fee) from the online shop of northernsaints.com  The passport will allow residents and visitors to collect stamps at participating attractions and businesses along the six routes. The list of participating venues will be growing throughout 2021, but the current list of participants is shown on the website. The passports are also available from Durham Cathedral and Hexham Abbey and we’re hoping to set up additional retail outlets in the coming months. Venues will of course be observing any appropriate pandemic restrictions, which may limit them operationally. To avoid disappointment, please check venue entries on the website before your visit. All revenue raised from passport sails will be invested back into the Northern Saints project.

2021 Full media launch

Q: How will the project evolve after the initial launch in 2021?

The longer-term ambition is to ensure the routes are comparable with some of the best national and European routes. Ultimately, the success of the routes will be measured

through the experience of our visitors and how businesses engage with and benefit from the Northern Saints project. In the coming years we will be exploring how we can expand the routes beyond the region and build on historical links with North Yorkshire, Cumbria and Scotland.

Q: Where can I find out more and access Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on Rights of Way issues relating to the Northern Saints?

A: There is a link to FAQs on Rights of Way issues in County Durham provided in the ‘Visitor Information’ section of www.northernsaints.com. Many Rights of Way FAQs will be similar throughout the region, but if you have specific questions relating to other local authorities, most will provide similar information and support.

Q: Where can visitors and resident find out more about the routes which cannot be found on the website?

A: Most of what you need can be found on the project’s website www.northernsaints.com  However, for additional information, the following contact details are available in relation everything you may need to plan your visit, including accommodation, things to see and do and places to eat and drink

Call: 03000 26 26 26           
Email: visitor@thisisdurham.com
Text: ‘Visit’ and your enquiry to 80011

Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm. Closed weekends and Bank Holidays.

(Calls – cost of a local call, calls from mobiles may vary. Texts – standard network charges apply).

Further information on specific North East areas that the Northern Saints Trails pass through can be found on the destination website links on the www.northernsaints.com These include links for:

Durham                                                Hartlepool
Newcastle/Gateshead                          Northumberland
Northumberland Coast                         Northumberland National Park
North Pennines AONB                         North Tyneside
South Tyneside                                    Sunderland
Tees Valley

Q: Which organisations are involved in the project?

A: The Northern Saints Steering Group, consists of several regional partners, who have developed the Northern Saints theme as a destination development and marketing initiative for both visitors and North East residents. The project lead is Visit County Durham in partnership with:

Durham Cathedral                                          North Pennines AONB

Durham County Council                                 North Tyneside Council

Durham Cultural Partnership                          Northumberland Coast AONB

Durham Diocese                                             Northumberland National Park

Durham University                                          Northumberland Tourism

Durham World Heritage Site                          South Tyneside Council

Gateshead Council                                         Sunderland City Council

Hexham Abbey                                               Sunderland Minster

Newcastle Cathedral                                      Tees Valley Combined Authority

Newcastle Diocese                                         The Auckland Project

NewcastleGatehead Initiative

North East Local Enterprise Partnership