Northern Saints - Covid-19 Update
As a result of Covid-19, we have paused the project until further notice. Unfortunately, we are therefore currently unable to share more details about the Northern Saints trails. We can tell you that work continues behind the scenes to ready the project for when the restrictions are lifted. We will keep you informed through this site, when we’re in a position to update you. Thank you for your interest in the Northern Saints. 

Durham Cathedral

Northern Saints Trails - Project development underway...

In 2015 Culture Durham, the County Durham Cultural Partnership, commissioned consultants Tourism UK Ltd to produce a feasibility study to explore options in relation to an economic driven project titled ‘Land of the Saints’. Following on from the great success of the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition in 2013, the County Durham Cultural Partnership and the regional North East Cultural Partnership were keen to consider the impact of the region’s saints in a tourism and cultural context to maximise the potential benefits.

In 2016 Visit County Durham convened and chaired the first meeting of The Northern Saints Group, bringing together a number of regional partners to develop the Northern Saints theme as a destination development and marketing initiative to attract visitors. The project aims to drive visitor economy benefits to communities throughout the region. The group is exploring ways to capture, collate and communicate the stories associated with the region’s saints. The project is set within the context of the region’s considerable Christian Heritage, but it will appeal to those of other faiths or those simply looking for their own personal spirituality, escapism and peace and tranquillity. The first phase will see the development of six new, long-distance walking trails based on ancient pilgrimage routes. Some may wish to rise to the challenge of long-distance trails, but many will simply wish to dip in and out of shorter sections of the routes to visit attractions, enjoy landscapes or indulge in afternoon teas or visit a welcoming country pub.


North East England – The Christian Crossroads of the British Isles

The 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 are currently working on a project to develop six routes, inspire and train up community volunteers and market the theme regionally, nationally and internationally in 2020.

Sunderland Glass Centre

What will happen next?

We are currently costing and scoping the routes in partnership with a wide range of North East stakeholders. Fundraising is underway and discussions have started on signage and interpretation. Engagement with relevant potential participants is in planning and we’re also laying the foundations for marketing the routes. We are still very much in the development stage, but 2019 will be a year of delivering the project elements in advance of a launch in early 2020. If you have any questions about the initiative or you would like to join our contact database, you can write to Craig Wilson, Destination Projects Manager at Visit County Durham on For any media enquiries please contact

Who is involved?

The Northern Saints visitor economy project is being coordinated by Visit County Durham in partnership with: Durham Cathedral, Durham County Council, Durham Cultural Partnership, Durham Diocese, Durham University, Durham World Heritage Site, Gateshead Council, Hexham Abbey, Newcastle Cathedral, Newcastle Diocese, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, North Pennines AONB, North Tyneside Council, Northumberland Coast AONB, Northumberland National Park, Northumberland Tourism, South Tyneside Council, Sunderland City Council, Sunderland Minster, Tees Valley Combined Authority and The Auckland Project.


Image credits: Bamburgh Castle - (c) Gavin Duthie/Northumberland Coast AONB