Sutherland pub first in Scotland to be blessed by a church

A pub has been officially blessed by a church - so it can now offer daily prayers as well as a pint - in the first move of its kind in Scotland.

The Crask Inn in Sutherland, Scottish Highlands, is providing daily prayers, spiritual retreats and clergy training as well as alcohol and beds.

The pub was given to the Scottish Episcopal Church in February last year as a gift by previous owners but legal issues had stalled the blessing.

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Previous owners Michael and Kai Geldard had planned to sell the pub but instead handed it over to the church.

The Crask Inn in Sutherland now provides alcohol and beds as well as daily prayers, spiritual retreats and clergy training. Picture: SWNSThe Crask Inn in Sutherland now provides alcohol and beds as well as daily prayers, spiritual retreats and clergy training. Picture: SWNS
The Crask Inn in Sutherland now provides alcohol and beds as well as daily prayers, spiritual retreats and clergy training. Picture: SWNS

It’s being run for the church by Douglas Campbell - a licensed Eucharistic minister of the Chalice - and his wife Denise.

The couple, who moved from Moray last year, have never run a pub.

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Owner Douglas is a personal assistant to Rev Mark Strange, the Episcopalian Bishop of the United Diocese of Moray, who conducted the blessing.

Reverend Mark Strange performs a blessing at The Crask Inn for owners. Picture: SWNSReverend Mark Strange performs a blessing at The Crask Inn for owners. Picture: SWNS
Reverend Mark Strange performs a blessing at The Crask Inn for owners. Picture: SWNS

The landmark blessing saw almost 100 people gathered at the rural pub on Saturday.

Denise, 53, said the ceremony included singing and prayers in each part of the building and ended with a feast and “a wonderful fellowship” in the sunny weather.

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She said: “It’s all very exciting. I think the spiritual and religious aspect will increase but I don’t think the hospitality side of things will decrease.

“The inn side will continue because it’s very important for hospitality and meeting people.

The Crask Inn in Sutherland now provides alcohol and beds as well as daily prayers, spiritual retreats and clergy training. Picture: SWNSThe Crask Inn in Sutherland now provides alcohol and beds as well as daily prayers, spiritual retreats and clergy training. Picture: SWNS
The Crask Inn in Sutherland now provides alcohol and beds as well as daily prayers, spiritual retreats and clergy training. Picture: SWNS

“I don’t think a day goes by without someone coming in.”

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The pub, which is six miles from the nearest village, is on the route from Land Ends to John O’Groats and is a popular pit stop for hill walkers and cyclists.

Following the blessing, Rev Strange said the inn, an old coaching hostelry which dates back to 1815, was “filled with joy and fellowship truly living up to its mission as a place for hospitality.”

Services will be held twice a month and visiting priests will be able to hold services there too, with any profits made going to the church.