1,300-mile pilgrimage to monks' Moray Abbey nearing the end

A PILGRIMAGE is retracing the steps of monks who travelled from France to the north of Scotland almost 800 years ago.

Pluscarden Abbey. Picture: Ian Rutherford/TSPL

The epic Pluscarden 1230 Pilgrimage, which began in Burgundy 11 weeks ago, has now entered the final stages, with those walking the 1,300 miles to Pluscarden Abbey in Moray crossing the border into Scotland.

Following a weekend as guests of the Duke of Northumberland at the world famous Alnwick Castle where a cake was produced to mark the 1000th mile walked, week 10 took them up the Northumberland coast.

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Pilgrimage arrives at Scottish border. Picture: Supplied

Having passed Holy Island, the border into Scotland was finally crossed and the group proceeded through the Lammermuir hills to Edinburgh.

Nights were spent at Berwick upon Tweed, Nunraw Abbey and Musselburgh before the final arrival atop Arthur’s seat.

Week 12 will see the determined walkers travel from Tyndrum up the west coast to Fort William and onward to Fort Augustus.

And week 13 will head up Loch Ness, making a detour to visit Beauly Priory, founded by the same original monks.

Pilgrimage arrives at the top of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh. Picture: Supplied

Overnights will be at Drumnadrochit, the Black Isle Brewery, Cawdor Castle and Logie.

Plans are being finalised for the arrival of the Pilgrimage at Pluscarden Abbey on the early afternoon of 1 September.

The Mediaeval Scottish abbey is home to the only order of Benedictine monks in the country.

It is the only medieval monastery in Britain still inhabited by monks and being used for its original purpose. The Order of St Benedict, first established in the sixth century, was the most widespread order of monasticism in mediaeval Europe. Monks left the abbey at the end of the 16th century, but returned again in 1948. There are currently 20 monks who have chosen to live a disciplined life of prayer and contemplation.

Pilgrimage arrives at Scottish border. Picture: Supplied

They wear a white habit and when not at prayer or study work in the grounds, looking after guests or in craft workshops.

The abbey day begins at 4:15am, with the last office held after 8pm.

Situated six miles south-west of Elgin in Moray, the monastery enjoys the peace and stillness of a secluded glen, but is easily reached by road from the town.

Pilgrimage arrives at the top of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh. Picture: Supplied