In the seventh century, a small group of monks left Iona at the request of the Anglo-Saxon king, Oswald. They were commissioned to bring the light of Christ to a dark and warring Northumbria. Aidan, a man with a renowned zeal for Christ, volunteered for the mission. The only thing he asked Oswald for was a tiny tidal isle off the mainland to establish a monastery and learning center. This island would be sanctified as Lindisfarne. Over the next several centuries, satellite monasteries were formed out of Lindisfarne on the contested Scottish lands near England. These monasteries became known as the Borders Abbeys.
By the twelfth century, the Border Abbeys became spiritual, economic, political and social hubs. As towns began to grow around the Abbeys, Scotland’s King David I established what became known as the Abbeys Way. This 70-mile walking pilgrimage connects walking pilgrims to Dryburgh, Jedburgh, Kelso and Melrose Abbeys through the gorgeous Scottish countryside. Walking pilgrimages give participants time to contemplate both creation and the Creator, internal and external spirituality. This is a unique, once in a lifetime experience, that will challenge the body while baptizing the heart.
- Take time to worship in four historic monasteries.
- Learn what it is like to walk in silence and solitude.
- Traverse a pilgrim’s path that has been walked for hundreds of years.
- Soak in the lovely vistas of the Scottish Borderlands.
- Visit Holy Island and explore the mysteries of Lindisfarne.
- Delight in the sites along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
- Join in a worship service at a local church.
- Take concentrated time to walk in silence and pray.
- Collect rubbish on the walk the keep the Abbeys Way clean for future pilgrims.
Every Wonder Voyage itinerary (mission trip and/or pilgrimage) is personalized to the desires, direction and personality of each group. This itinerary is only a description of the kind of journey we can create for your unique team.
- Day 1- A Pilgrim’s Welcome
Welcome pilgrims to Scotland! You have chosen to embark on a pilgrimage route that has been traveled for hundreds of years by saint and sinner, faithful and faithless, and rich and poor — an untold number of seekers looking for peace, salvation, and illumination. For the next week we will walk these same steps in search of the stillness of the presence of God. After a brief time in Edinburgh we head down to our home base for the next few days. Make sure you are well rested, for tomorrow we begin the Borders Abbeys Way.
- Day 2- Melrose to Selkirk
The Scottish Borders are famed for their magnificent ruined abbeys at Melrose, Dryburgh, Jedburgh, and Kelso. For the next week we walk 70-miles in six stages, creating a circular route. We begin at the magnificent Melrose Cathedral, burial place of the heart of Robert the Bruce. As we begin the journey, we give our hearts to Christ, asking Him to join our journey and walk with us on the road. Selkirk, our destination for today, is not only the home of our first Abbey visit but the place William Wallace was declared Guardian of the Kingdom of Scotland. Like every afternoon, you have a couple hours to explore the town or sit down for tea and biscuits before we head back.
- Day 3 – Selkirk to Hawick
We start the day in Selkirk (with a few of us yelling “FREEDOM!”) and head to Hawick, the most populous Abbey Way village we will visit. While Hawick may be substantial by Borders standards, it is the gateway to one of the loneliest and emptiest parts of the region, as the land to the south and west extends away into miles and miles of forest and little-visited rolling Ettrick hills, past home of one of Scotland’s great writers, James Hogg.
- Day 4- Hawick to Jedburgh
The day moves from the buzz and boom of Hawick into the quiet Ettrick forests on our way to the lovely town of Jedburgh. Stillness is be our companion as we begin to move north. We won’t miss the substantial ruins at Jedburgh where the glory that once was the monasteries of the Borderlands is on plain display. Founded by Bishop Ecgred of Lindisfarne, Jedburgh was considered a holy place. Mary Queen of Scots had a residence here. Its proximity to the English border made it an easy target for both English and Scottish raiders.
- Day 5 – Holy Isle
In 635 AD, King Oswald of Northumbria charged the priest Aidan to found a monastery at Lindisfarne. It grew to become the center of Christian missions in Northern England and the holy presence that rests on this island still speaks to those who love history, nature, stillness, and adventure. Today we take a day of rest and enjoy the peace of the island, joining the locals and fellow pilgrims on the path for a Eucharist service at St. Mary’s Parish Church. The afternoon is spent in contemplation at your favorite place on the island.
- Day 6 – Jedburgh to Kelso
Our bodies are rested as we begin the second half of our Borders Way pilgrimage. Beginning back in Jedburgh we head toward the Abbey town of Kelso. Walter Scott said Kelso “is the most beautiful, if not the most romantic village in Scotland”. There is not much left of Kelso Abbey so after our walk for today we visit the fairytale Thirlestane Castle.
- Day 7 – Kelso to Dryburgh
Our most intense day of hiking begins at the Kelso Abbey ruins and ends in Dryburgh. The Abbey fell under the English army in due to Robert the Bruce using it as a base of operations in his Northumberland campaign. Restored, it was burned again sixty years later. It survived as a parish church and gaol for about 200-years until its final destruction under the Scottish Reformation.
- Day 8 – Dryburgh to Melrose
Our last day of hiking is a short one. We sleep in, pack up, and head out to Dryburgh where we finish a short jaunt back to the beginning, Melrose Abbey. There shall be great rejoicing as we complete our Abbey Way pilgrimage. We celebrate in Melrose then head to Edinburgh where a comfy hotel is a pleasant change of scenery. Then it is a time of rest before taking an evening meal together, and a blessed night of sleep.
- Day 9 – Edinburgh
Your last full day in Scotland is spent exploring the spellbinding city of Edinburgh. We start you on the Royal Mile where you can continue to explore, pick up some souvenirs, or even track down the legendary haggis! Edinburgh is one of the best cities in the world to walk. Our evening comes to a close with a very special Celebration Meal where we share the stories of our pilgrimage and rejoice over the incredible week we have had together.
- Day 10 – Alba Sàmhach -Scotland, farewell!
We have entered pilgrimage together, walking the Border Abbeys Way. The beauty of guided walks have let you experience peace, contemplation, joy, and wonder in some truly rare settings. We passed through history and traced the boundaries of earth and sky, day and night, and heaven and earth. We have followed the paths of royals, saints, storytellers, and sages. As you cross back over the borders into your daily life, do so with a wider understanding of God, your life enriched with intimate encounters with Christ and us, his anointed. May Christ’s peace continue with each of you!
Legacy in Borders Abbeys Way
- *This is the base cost of the trip. Your cost may differ depending on housing, activities, etc.