Two Italian monks who have been on a five-year walking pilgrimage with no phones or money, and have relied on the kindess of strangers, have paid a visit to Cumnock and Muirkirk in recent days.

Brother Biagio and Brother David have shaken hands with popes and world leaders and have passed through Italy, Switzerland, France, Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg, England, Wales, Ireland and now Scotland on their epic "pilgrimage of peace".

They were spotted close to Cumnock earlier this week by local woman Sidra Akthar.

Sidra and her sister, Nabila Akthar, were out for a drive on Monday (September 14), when they spotted the strangely dressed men, she said: "We were out driving and saw these two men walking bare feet, they seemed really weird, when we got back to the house, we said should we drive back and see them again. There was something about them that we wanted to turn back and know what it was they were doing here.

"We stopped them near Dumfries House asked them 'who are you?' and 'where you from?' they told us that they'd come from Italy on a pilgrimage and they've not seen their family for five years. They've been walking through many countries and they have no money or phones or anything really. And they don’t stay anywhere apart from churches."

Sidra's brother Naveed Akhtar, who owns Todays in Muirkirk offered to put them up in a hotel for the night, but the monks refused, saying that they only sleep in churches. After an initial bit of confusion with St Johns Church in Cumnock the brothers were admitted to the church where they spent the night in the church hall.

Father Phillip Kitchen of St John's said: "I think they had a good stay, they were well looked after by the parishioners. There was a Pakistani family as well, who had really befriended them, and took great care of them, providing them with bedding and meals. They were well looked after by them, it's a great sign for our community."

Indeed, the Akthars did ensure that the monks were well looked after, ensuring they had a place to stay at St Thomas' Church in Muirkirk on Tuesday night as well, where they were able to get washed and rest up for the night.

Cumnock Chronicle: Naveed, Brother Biagio, Brother David and Sharon who works at Todays in Muirkirk.Naveed, Brother Biagio, Brother David and Sharon who works at Todays in Muirkirk.

Sidra and her family also offered the monks a phone so that they could call their relatives but sadly they did not pick up. They were however, able to leave a message.

Sidra said: "We are so amazed that people can live in such simplicity. It’s shocking how they’re living. Nowadays we can’t live without our phones and these guys haven’t had a bath for ten days. The amount of prayers they gave us were great. Amazing people, so down to earth."

Brother Biagio and Brother David are making their way to Douglas today where Naveed has called ahead to see if there's any churches that can put them up for the night. From there it is understood that they wish to make their way across the country, to Edinburgh and over the water to mainland Europe.