Pilgrims complete 118-mile Holy Week walk

A group carrying large, wooden crosses has completed a pilgrimage dating back almost 50 years.

Northern Cross began in 1975 when a group of Christians decided to make a journey in the week before Easter to Holy Island off the Northumberland coast.

It took the walkers a week to cover the 118 miles (190km) from Carlisle arriving at the island on Good Friday.

This year's walk was led by Pete Coppola who has been doing the pilgrimage since 1970.

Northern Cross pilgrims
The group left Carlisle a week ago for the long trek [Northern Cross Pilgrims]

At its peak, more than 100 people did the walk, with legs from Carlisle, Bellingham, Melrose and Dunbar, but this year fewer than 20 took part.

Walkers stayed in basic accommodation, which included sleeping on village hall floors.

Their journey began close to the border between Scotland and England, trekking through Lanercost, Haltwhistle, Wark, Elsdon, Ingram and Lowick.

On Good Friday they walked barefoot across the sand along Pilgrims Way, to reach the island to celebrate Easter.

Walkers at the site of Sycamore Gap
Part of the route passed near Sycamore Gap on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland [Margaret Williams]

During most of his walks over the past 20 years, Mr Coppola, 65, from Rochester in Kent, has been joined on the walks by his daughter Nadia.

He said not being on Holy Island at Easter was "unthinkable".

"It all went very smoothly and there were not many walking wounded," he added.

"We were pleased that lots of people joined us and there were between 40 and 50 at the end."

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