Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

New pilgrimage route to be launched from East Lothian

Path to Lindisfarne Image copyright Church of Scotland

A new pilgrimage route that travels through coastal scenery from North Berwick in East Lothian to Lindisfarne is to be launched.

The Forth to Farne Way will take modern-day pilgrims along pathways and through places linked to Christianity's earliest days in Scotland.

Celtic missionary saints associated with the route include St Aidan, St Baldred, St Cuthbert and St Ebba.

It is one of five Pilgrim Ways under development just now in Scotland.

Lord Wilson of Tillyorn, patron of the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum and former Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland, will formally open the new route at a service in St Mary's Parish Church, Whitekirk, on Sunday at 11:00.

Rev Joanne Evans-Boiten, minister of Athelstaneford, Whitekirk and Tyninghame, who initiated the effort to develop the new route, said a group of people would walk a section of the route from Whitekirk to North Berwick after the official opening ceremony.

She said: "We are very excited to be launching the new route on Sunday and everyone is welcome to join us on the walk.

"We will make sure that everyone gets back to their car."

Image copyright Church of Scotland

Whitekirk is one of many sites along the route that attracted pilgrims in the late Middle Ages, she said.

She added: "Thousands of people came to Whitekirk because of a very famous holy well.

"That is why we have such a large church in such a small place.

"The story is that Agnes Countess of Dunbar had sustained injuries defending Dunbar castle when it was under siege. She visited a hermit living near Whitekirk and he told her to go to the holy well and drink the water.

"After visiting the well the Countess was healed and she went on to put up a shrine here that became famous throughout Europe."

In mediaeval times pilgrims travelled the coastal route from Lindisfarne to St Andrews crossing the Firth of Forth by ferry from North Berwick.

The 72-mile pilgrim route follows parts of three well-marked designated footpaths: the John Muir Way, and the Berwickshire and Northumberland coastal paths.

Nick Cooke, secretary of the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum, said: "The route goes through some very important places with a strong pilgrimage heritage, from Whitekirk itself to Coldingham Priory which was one of the largest Benedictine monasteries in Scotland in its day.

"The steering group volunteers have done tremendous work, but there is a lot more to be done.

"The next stage will be to develop waymarking and interpretation to tell the stories of these special places as well as provide accommodation for pilgrim walkers making this journey."

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