Forth To Farne

I was invited to a service at St. Mary’s Parish Church, Whitekirk. to celebrate the launch of the Forth to Farne Way, a Pilgrimage Route between North Berwick and Lindisfarne.

The full length is 72 miles, but this has been divided into eleven stages between 2 and 13 miles long. Most of the route is on existing core paths. It takes us through areas of outstanding heritage, coastal paths, and has strong links with historic pilgrim routes dating back to the time of Saint Aidan.

The Steering Group has been supported by the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum, Northumberland County Council, landowners, churches, businesses and community groups. For more information visit

Whitekirk's minister, Joanne Evans-Boiten, asked why a church in nowhere was built so large? The answer, she said, was Pilgrimage. Dr. Thomas Torrance thanked the Christians of Lindisfarne who evangelised as far north as Whitekirk. Lord Wilson of Tillyorn unveiled a Pilgrimage Route Banner and led pilgrims, after lunch, on a short leg to North Berwick.

Is it more than coincidence that this same week two young people walked from Stoke-on-Trent to Holy Island? They naively expected to find monks there who would welcome them to sleep, eat and pray. One B&B owner let them sleep on a floor, I met them 'by chance', they slept on my lounge floor the next night, and joined in daily prayer. Then they set off to walk to Iona via Glasgow. .

In Scandinavia, churches and tourist agencies combine to ensure there is accommodation along their reviving pilgrim routes. We in Britain and Ireland need to do the same. A small fee or donation would be expected, as they are on the Way to Santiago. Or young people might be required to undertake a practical task such as cleaning, as happens in some youth hostels.

Let us pray that individual pilgrimage-lovers and new monastic groups will locate themselves along these routes and that pilgrims may pray, rest, make snacks and share in such places.

Posted at 08:31am on 13th October 2017
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