A ROUTE linking East Lothian to the north of England has officially been opened.

The Forth to Farne Way follows part of an historic pilgrimage route which was followed by pilgrims making their way to St Andrews.

For a long time, Whitekirk was an extremely important visiting and resting place for the thousands of pilgrims.

Last Sunday, the Forth to Farne Way was launched during a rededication service in a full St Mary’s Parish Church, Whitekirk.

The service marked the centenary of the rededication of the church in 1917 after its restoration from the devastating fire in 1914.

Former Moderators of the Church of Scotland, former ministers of Athelstaneford and Whitekirk churches, the Stenton Singers, and representatives of communities along the length of the route were among those attending the service.

The launch was carried out by Lord Wilson of Tillyorn, Patron of the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum and former Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland.

He praised all from St Mary’s Parish Church, Whitekirk, who were involved in the preparation of the centenary service, and also those in the Forth to Farne Way Steering Group, who have developed the pilgrimage route during the last two years.

After the service, the Kirk Session provided light refreshments for about 100 people in the village hall.

Pride of place in the hall was a cake in a perfectly-scaled, fully-detailed model of St Mary’s Church.

After the refreshments and in beautiful sunshine, Lord Wilson and the Rev Joanne Evans-Boiten, minister at Athelstaneford, linked with Whitekirk and Tyninghame, led a large group of walkers on the Forth to Farne Way route to North Berwick.

The full route from Lindisfarne to North Berwick stretches to 72 miles and is split into 11 stages, each measuring between two and 13 miles.

The route passes through East Lothian and the Scottish Borders before reaching England, with various places of interest signposted along the way.

Mrs Evans-Boiten told the Courier that she had already received interest from people about the route after reading about the launch.

She said: “It went very well and we had lovely weather – we did the walk quite quickly.

“For the whole event there were somewhere between 180 and 200 people – it was a very good turnout.

“Of those about 25 to 30 people set off but we did not all arrive, with some leaving at about halfway to go elsewhere.”

The group stopped off at the Old St Andrew’s Kirk ruin by the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick before going on to the Coastal Communities Museum on the town’s School Road.

For more information on the route, go to forthtofarne.org