Marratide a Pilgrimage through William Martin’s Northumbria

Sunderland to Durham, Sunday 5th June 2016

As aw was gannin t’ Durham
Aw met wi’ three jolly brisk women
Aw asked – what news at Durham?
They said – joyful days are cummin

– William Martin, ‘Marratide’ (Cracknrigg, 1983)

Jake Campbell will lead a walk from Silksworth, Sunderland, to Durham Cathedral, retracing the footsteps of poet William Martin, who used to walk between Sunderland and Durham every summer solstice with family, friends and other poets and artists.

This walk, two weeks before the summer solstice in 2016, brings people together to celebrate the life and work of the late Northubrian poet, William Martin – a man who intimately knew this beautiful natural landscape, its people, history and heritage. We will follow in his footsteps, forming both a memoriam for lives and times past and a looking forward in solidarity to the region William Martin lived in, loved and wrote so passionately about. No prior knowledge of Martin’s work is required to enjoy the walk.

To take part and for further details, please email:

Route Details

Length: 14-15 miles, approximately.
Duration: 6-8 hours approximately, including stops.
Terrain: Mix of urban, rural and suburban. Some busy crossing points over and under major roads and between byways. Some irregular inclines. Tunstall Hills quite steep. Varied surfaces: tarmac, grass, paths, fields.
Stopping points/refreshments: Silksworth Sports Complex, Copt Hill Inn (Warden Law), Blacksmith’s Arms (Pittington) and multiple pubs available in Durham city centre.
Map: OS Explorer 308 (Durham & Sunderland)

Assembly details: A taxi will be departing Sunderland Central station at 8.30 to arrive at the foot of Tunstall Hills for 8.45. Please let me know if you wish to travel in the taxi from Sunderland station to Tunstall Hills so that I have an idea of how many seats are required. Upon finishing, regular trains from Durham travel both north and southwards.

All timings are approximate and subject to change, though we will be departing promptly.

9.00: We assemble at the top of Tunstall Hills (Maiden Paps), Sunderland, where Graham Martin will give a short talk about his father’s life and work. The poet Peter Armstrong will also talk briefly about the history of the walk as a gathering of like-minded writers and artists.

9.30: Departing Tunstall Hills, we walk south west for around a mile towards the Silksworth Sports Complex (toilets available) before joining the Walney to Wear (WTW) cycle path in Farringdon for around three miles. Our route passes adjacent to a dry ski slope at the former site of Silksworth Colliery, where William Martin was born and raised, before continuing through East Herrington towards Doxford.

11.00: We walk south-eastwards, parallel to the A19 dual carriageway for half a mile, crossing it on Hangman’s Lane before following byways through fields and farmland at Warden Law for around two and a half miles. We walk along Houghton Burn to arrive at the Copt Hill Inn on the edge of Houghton-le-Spring.

12.45 – 13.15: Lunch at or near Copt Hill. Copt Hill Inn for refreshments/toilets.

13.15: Departing Copt Hill, we head south-west for about a mile and a half via Hetton Bogs to Rainton Bridge. We then turn south following the Great North Forest Heritage Trail to Low Moorsely for around a mile and a half.

14.00: We turn off to follow the disused railway line for around two miles to Low Pittington. Blacksmith’s Arms for toilets.

14.45: We continue in a south-westerly direction for just over a mile parallel to Pittington Beck until we reach Renny’s Lane, which we follow westwards for a mile, eventually passing through a subway beneath the A1 motorway between Belmont and Gilesgate.

16.00: Another mile through Gilesgate Moor, we eventually rejoin the riverside trail at Pelaw Wood in Old Durham, making it into the centre of Durham around another mile later.

17.00: Arriving on the east side of Durham, we wind our way for half a mile through the historic streets to the Cathedral.

Finish: Durham Cathedral, 6pm.

We will proceed at a steady pace, with regular stops. Participants are encouraged to bring any poems and songs they wish to recite. It is our intention to arrive at Durham Cathedral for 5pm to visit the tomb of Saint Cuthbert, as William Martin did. The cathedral closes at 6pm. Trains run regularly back to Newcastle and connecting services on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Important notice: Participants will need to come fully prepared, with a hearty packed lunch, a good amount to drink and some snacks. It being British summer time, the weather could do anything, so be warned! It is strongly advised that you bring a sun hat. The weather may be cool and overcast in the morning, but could quickly become very warm by the afternoon. Pack both sun screen and a water proof jacket, and please wear sturdy, comfortable footwear and clothing and bring any medication you may require.


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