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Tain event for launch of Northern Pilgrims' Way

By Louise Glen

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A PILGRIMS Way to rival that of Holy Isle and Canterbury has been re-established between Tain and Kirkwall.

A dedication service was held in the Collegiate Church in Tain marking a new chapter in the medieval pilgrim route between the shrines of St. Duthac in Tain and St. Magnus in Kirkwall.

The service led by Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness blessed pilgrims who would walk the 131 mile route between Tain and Kirkwall.

The event, which was limited due to the current Covid restrictions, was attended by the Lords Lieutenant of Ross-shire and of Sutherland, Joanie Whiteford and Monica Main, as well as other civic and church leaders from the area including the Vicar General, Fr. Domenico Zanre, representing the Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen, and MSP Maree Todd.

The chairman of the Northern Pilgrims’ Way group, Karl Rosie, gave a speech of welcome and explained the purpose of developing this route again, providing benefits for the area.

During the service the Bishop dedicated the display board which will be erected at the entrance to the churchyard and form the starting point for the pilgrims setting off on their journey to Orkney.

The Bishop also distributed cockle shells to everyone present, representing the coming together of travellers following a pilgrim route.

The service of redidication took place in Tain. Duncan Macgillvray, piper talking to the Bishop Mark Strange.
The service of redidication took place in Tain. Duncan Macgillvray, piper talking to the Bishop Mark Strange.

Afterwards, there was an opportunity for people to speak in the open air of the churchyard and look at information about the route.

The secretary of the Northern Pilgrims’ Way Group, Jane Coll, was appropriately dressed as a medieval pilgrim in order to sell the new guidebooks and beautiful new pilgrim tokens designed and made by the Harray Potter of Orkney.

This was the first event of three to mark the new route. The next will be held in Thurso in Old St. Peter’s Church, led by the Roman Catholic Church and the last will take place in St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, led by the Church of Scotland.

Those visiting Tain will be following the footsteps of King James IV of Scotland who made at least 18 pilgrimages to the shrine of St Duthac between 1493 and 1513.

The Northern Pilgrims' Way will largely avoid roads, following footpaths and tracks suitable for walking and cycling. Much of it will provide the traveller with magnificent coastal scenery.

Following in the footsteps of royalty, Tain embraces pilgrims' progress

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