St Baldred lived in East Lothian, it is thought, during the 8th century. He is believed to have founded a monastery at Tyninghame, but at times retired to a small hermitage he had built himself on the Bass Rock, and at other times is thought to have lived in the cave at Auldhame beach known as St Baldred’s Cave.
Travelling in cars and a minibus, and having stopped on the way out to visit Preston Mill, the group gathered on the beach just below St Baldred’s Cave, looking out towards the Bass Rock which lies a mile and a half off the coast. Fr Peter celebrated Mass and spoke about St Baldred, the devotion to him in the parishes of Auldhame, Whitekirk, Tyninghame and Prestonkirk, and the many stories told about him. Following Baldred’s death on the site of this chapel, there was a dispute between the parishes of Auldhame, Tyninghame and Prestonkirk, as to which should have his body. The story goes that by the advice of a holy man, they spent the night in prayer. In the morning three bodies were found, in all respects alike, each in its winding sheet, prepared for burial, so that each parish had its own body of Baldred!
This was followed by a picnic lunch and a leisurely stroll along the beach, which also has great views of Tantallon Castle. On the way home, we stopped at Athelstaneford, visiting the local Saltire Museum, which tells the story of how the saltire, the cross of St Andrew, was first adopted as the flag of Scotland when a white cross appeared in the sky before a battle on that spot between the Picts and the invading Angles in 832 AD. After this we stopped at Aberlady and explored the ruins of the Carmelite friary that date back to 1293. We were grateful to enjoy warm sunshine for the whole of the trip, with a heavy downpour holding off until we got into the cars at Aberlady for the last leg of the journey home!