St Abbs To Nunraw By Duns And Abbey St Bathans
ROUTE LENGTH: 44 MILES
Exit Coldingham via the High Street north (B6438), continue to follow as the road turns right, to StAbb’s Head. To reach Eyemouth, return to Coldingham and exit via the A1107, which leads directly from Coldingham, take the B6438 south. To continue past the A1 turn right onto it and then immediately left onto B6438 again. You will pass Reston and Bonkyl Church. You will join the A6112, eventually reaching Duns.
The main road north from Duns is the A6112, turn left onto B6365, then left onto the B6355. To visit Abbey St Bathans, take a right turn soon after, marked Abbey St Bathans. To reach Longformacus, return or continue along the B6355, and take the next left, marked Whitchester and Longformacus. From Longformacus, follow the road north-west, which will eventually rejoin the B6355, onto which you will turn left. You will, however, leave this road at the next right, which will lead to Garvald and Nunraw Abbey.
Same directions, the whole route to St Abb’s is downhill, though the route back will be uphill.
Follow from Coldingham Bridge Street (B6438), turning right slightly onto Reston Road (B6438). To continue past the A1 turn right onto it and then immediately left onto B6438 again. You will pass through Reston and turn left onto the B6437, and right onto the B6438, passing Bonkyl Church on your left. Join the A6112, passing through Preston, then turn left continuing on the A6112 as you leave it. Follow this road to Duns. About 1h20 minutes, 13.5 miles.
Alternatively, you can take a cycle path from Eyemouth to Reston, then join the route above.From Duns to Garvald is about a four hour route, include the diversion to Abbey St Bathan’s. Follow the A6115 out of Duns, taking a left onto the B6365 then left onto the B6355. To visit Abbey St Bathans, take a right turn soon after, marked Abbey St Bathans. Return to the main road. Continue along the B6355, then take the next left, marked Whitchester and Longformacus. You will pass through the town, and turn right. From Longformacus, follow the road north-west, which will eventually rejoin the B6355, onto which you will turn left. You will, however, leave this road at the next right, which will lead to Garvald and Nunraw Abbey.
It is about a 29 minute walk from Coldingham to St Abb’s. It is a 57 minute walk from Coldingham to St Abb’s.
As noted in the guide, Abbey St Bathans and Longformacus are both on the Southern Upland Way. It is possible to walk from Cocksburnpath along this route to Longformacus, then follow the driving instructions above – follow the road north-west from Longformacus, on which you will eventually take a left onto the B6355. You will, however, leave this road at the next right, which will lead to Garvald and Nunraw Abbey.
By Public Transport
The Perryman’s bus, no. 235, departs from Coldingham to St Abb’s, once an hour at ten to.
The Perryman’s 235 also goes to eynmouth hourly, from Coldingham, at 5 minutes to the hour. You can get the bus earlier, then, from St Abb’s.
Only Duns is reachable by bus, taking the same 235 from Coldingham or Eyemouth, to Berwick upon Tweed. Then take the no. 60 from there to Duns.
There is no easy route from Duns to Garvald by public transport. To reach Garvald, you will have to return to Dunbar by bus, then take a taxi or walk from there to Nunraw.
To check times go to Traveline Scotland and click on Plan your Journey on left side of page.
The parish church of Coldingham preserves the choir of the medieval Priory church which stood on this site. But this lovely medieval settlement replaced a more austere early community on the headlands of St Abbs. That exposed site, of which no visible signs remain, was moved after the Viking onslaught, and the area is now a nature reserve commanding spectacular cliffs and extensive seabird colonies.
But we do still have the story of St Ebbe, an Anglo-Saxon princess who along with her sister Hilda fell under the influence of the Columban church on Lindisfarne. Ebbe established her own monastery on the cliffs at St Abbs, where there may once have been a Roman fort. It was a favourite stopping place for Cuthbert who is described as going down to the shore to pray at night with the cold waves lapping round his legs. A young monk watched two otters coming out of the sea to rub the absentminded saint’s limbs and restore the blood flow. Ebbe’s community was for men and women, and later attracted criticism from the prurient.
The village of St Abb’s is a short walk from the Nature Reserve Visitor Centre. In addition to the attractive harbour there is a St Ebbe Centre and an Information hub with interpretation of the local environment. It is also worth going on into Eyemouth which is Berwickshire’s main fishing port and a present day hub of sea life and leisure. Our route however turns back to Coldingham then on to Reston, Bonkyl Church, Preston and Duns. Once the county town, Duns is a quiet place that nonetheless produced Scotland greatest ever theologian, the medieval Franciscan scholar Duns Scotus , who carved out his radical intellectual path at Oxford and Paris and was later canonised.
From Duns the journey takes to the Lammermuirs which have been constantly in our range of vision from the coastal route. The lonely roads wend through moors, past reservoirs and across river valleys. You can divert north to see Abbey St Bathans where the church is on the site of a medieval nunnery which may have replaced a Celtic religious settlement associated with the Edenhall broch and fort on the hill above. There was however no St Bathan or Bothon, which is a term for peasant houses. To the north is the old village of Longformacus with its fine little medieval church, now sadly closed. Both places are on the Southern Upland Way. We follow the Whiteadder river north-east to Nunraw and Garvald.
Door of the sheepfold,
Water of the Well of Life,
True Bread that satisfies all hunger,
True Word that nourishes the heart,
May we follow the mystery
Of Cuthbert’s faith and passion,
The wisom and love of Duns Scotus,
As they placed their footsteps,
In the way of the Good Shepherd.