STEPS built to help pilgrims have been blessed.

The Right Reverend Mark Wroe, Bishop of Berwick, performed the opening ceremony and blessing of new railings and steps at St Cuthbert’s church, Bellingham, easing access for visitors and pilgrims from the church down to ‘Cuddy’s Well’.

Supported by Vattenfall’s Ray Wind Fund and other funders, steps and railings have been constructed to enable people to get safely from the churchyard to the famous holy well.

Bishop Mark said: “It was a joy to dedicate the new steps at St Cuthbert’s Bellingham and celebrate all involved in their development. They are a beautiful gift to all pilgrims, whether on the Three-Church Trail, visitors to ‘Cuddy’s Well’ or to St Cuthbert’s Church.

"I pray that God will give us all confidence in our next steps in these uncertain times and that these steps might be a blessing to all on their way.”

The Ray Wind Funds board chair, David Burn, added: “We were delighted to help with St Cuthbert’s application for funding, which we hope will enable more people to access the holy well and stimulate their interest in the many other historic and beautiful, rural churches.”

‘Cuddy’s Well’ is believed to have been consecrated and blessed by St Cuthbert. Charlotte Loyd, of St Cuthbert’s Parochial Church Council, explained: "St Cuthbert’s steps will provide the link between Bellingham’s two most historic sites - the Grade 1 Listed church and the holy well. It will be an additional attraction in a district already popular with visitors and may eventually link up with the Northern Saints Trails.

“We are extremely grateful to our donors and to architect Chris Blackburn; Neil Jones and his construction team; Phil Dent for the beautiful railings and all those who have contributed time and expertise."

Charlotte added: "Particular thanks go to Revd. Dr.Susan Ramsaran who provided the vision - as well as writing the Three-Church Trail Guide - and Marie Ness, secretary of the Three-Church Trail Group, who has led the project over many months."

The Three-Church Trail Group, with Bellingham’s PCC, hope to inspire people to appreciate the cultural, historic and archaeological heritage of the three St Cuthbert’s churches.

The three rural churches are part of the Diocese of Newcastle.

Applications from non-charitable organisations should be made to the Ray Wind Funds and applications for charitable activities from £500 up to £10,000 - to the Vattenfall Small Grants Programme at the Community Foundation for Northumberland and Tyne & Wear.

Funders included: Garfield Weston Foundation; William Leech Foundation; Sir James Knott Trust; The Joicey Trust; The Barbour Foundation; Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Revitalising Redesdale, Carr-Ellison Trust, The Joseph Strong Frazer Trust and The Bishop of Newcastle, as well as other individual donations.