New holy pilgrimage route travels along beautiful East Lothian coast
A new Pilgrimage route that travels through beautiful coastal scenery from North Berwick to Lindisfarne was launched today in Whitekirk, East Lothian.
One of five long distance Pilgrim Ways currently under development in Scotland, the Forth to Farne Way will take modern-day pilgrims along pathways and through places linked to Christianity’s earliest days in Scotland.
Several of the ancient Celtic saints are identified with places along the Forth to Farne Way including St Baldred, St Cuthbert, St Aidan and St Ebba.
Rev Joanne Evans-Boiten, minister of Athelstaneford, Whitekirk and Tyninghame, who initiated development of the new route, said: “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.”
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.
A steering group of local volunteers has identified 11 stages that vary from two miles to 13 miles where they hope to site waymarkers and support services.
Currently chaired by Jimmy McGuinnes, the group has also produced a leaflet about the route and a beautifully designed booklet that tells the stories of the saints.
Nick Cooke, secretary of the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum SCIO praised the volunteers who have been working to develop the Forth to Farne Way for the last three years.
He 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.”
Among the many places of interest along the route are: St Abbs harbours, the Scottish Seabird Centre, Preston Mill, Fast Castle, Lindisfarne causeway and Priory and St Andrews Kirk in North Berwick.