The weather could not have been kinder for our first Pilgrimage Walk on May 12th.  It seems a long time ago now, but the sunshine we experienced then has continued throughout this hot summer.  18 “pilgrims” and a frisky spaniel followed the Ruthwell Heritage Trail, starting and finishing at “The Farmers’ Inn”, Clarencefield, and taking in the Bluebell Wood, the Brow Well, one of the first golf courses in Scotland, the Savings Bank Museum, and the magnificent Ruthwell Cross.  My thanks to all who made this walk such a success.  We enjoyed wonderful scenery, warm fellowship, and even warmer temperatures.  Also grateful thanks go to Mike Marshall who captured the essence of the walk on film, shown the following week in church.
More on films later.

Our next Pilgrimage Walk is scheduled for Saturday September 1st, with Sweetheart Abbey, New Abbey our destination – a Cistercian Monastery founded in 1275 by Lady Devorgilla in memory of her late husband John Balliol.  Sweetheart Abbey, or Dulce Cor, is a daughter house to Dundrennan Abbey near Kirkcudbright, which will be the destination for our third Pilgrimage Walk.

The New Abbey walk is part of the local council’s Core Paths scheme and is waymarked all along its route, rather like the Camino de Santiago – of which more later.  The walk of around 5 miles, crosses the New Abbey Pow by a ford or footbridge, past Maryfield Farm, over Drummillan Pow and the upper reaches of the Nith tide, and on into Knocktor Wood leading to Airds Merse and Airds Point.  A narrow road leads along Kirkconnel Merse to Kirkconnel Tower.  Then it’s back to New Abbey following the minor road past Abbot’s Tower and back to the ford, with afternoon tea at Abbey Cottage awaiting.  Please join us for this walk.  I can’t guarantee the weather we had on our first walk, but the welcome and fellowship will be just as warm.

Now to films.  As part of a fund- raising effort to finance the purchase of new technology for use in church – a monitor and a laptop to replace our ageing items – we are planning a series of “Film Nights”, the first on Friday 5th October at 7:00p.m.  The film showing that evening will be “The Way”, a 2010 Spanish drama honouring the Camino de Santiago which promotes the idea of traditional pilgrimage.  The film was written, directed and produced by Emilio Estevez who called the film “pro-life, pro-people and not anti-anything.”  The film received positive reviews on its release.  “Rotten Tomatoes “website thought the film “a worthy effort, balancing heartfelt emotion with clear-eyed drama that resists cheap sentiment.”  The scenery is wonderful, with the pilgrims wandering through wilderness and small villages, exploring ancient cathedrals and local traditions.  One not to be missed.  Put the date, Friday October 5th in your diary.                                                                                                                   D J