Steps taken to create historic pilgrim way

Some of the partners for the Pilgrim Way Project ' Bruce Manson (Markinch Heritage Group), Roger Pickering (Forth Pilgrim), Robin Presswood (Fife Council), Simon Phillips (Fife Coast and Countryside Trust), Alison Irvine (Fife Council).

Some of the partners for the Pilgrim Way Project ' Bruce Manson (Markinch Heritage Group), Roger Pickering (Forth Pilgrim), Robin Presswood (Fife Council), Simon Phillips (Fife Coast and Countryside Trust), Alison Irvine (Fife Council).

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Ambitious plans to create the Fife Pilgrim Way – a spectacular walking route across the Kingdom – have been unveiled for consultation.

The route follows in the footsteps of pilgrims who, throughout history, have journeyed from Culross Abbey and North Queensferry to St Andrews.

Following an inland route, the Fife Pilgrim Way will take in existing rights of way, paths, tracks and the core path network, as well as some new sections of path to offer a variety of walking opportunities.

It will link historic sites of pilgrimage with its award-winning natural beauty, passing landmarks such as Dunfermline Abbey, Markinch, The Waterless Way and Ceres, before ending in front of the grand ruins of St Andrews Cathedral.

Simon Phillips, business manager for Fife Coast & Countryside Trust (FCCT), which is leading the project, said: “We are excited and optimistic that if we can secure the funding and support required to deliver this project, it will bring significant economic benefits and attract many new visitors to Fife.

“It will be a major challenge for the partners to secure the funding required to implement the route, its signage, interpretation and promotion. We also need to be aware of the costs associated with maintaining a path of this length and hope that local communities and businesses will support us to help to make this path a reality.”

As part of a broad consultation process, councillors were given details of the proposals at an event in Markinch Church last week. The venue chosen was itself once a focus for pilgrims on their journey to St Andrews.

In the millennium year, five major pilgrimages were held in Europe involving thousands of people – one being from St Andrews to Edinburgh.

This hugely successful four-day pilgrim walk involving thousands of people highlighted the area’s extensive pilgrim heritage.

Since then, FCCT, together with Fife Council, Fife Tourism Partnership, the Scottish Pilgrims Routes Forum and Scotways, has been developing a pilgrim route drawing together many of the isolated features of pilgrimage through Fife.

Councillor William Campbell, who attended the event in Markinch, said: “This project spans the whole of Fife and is something we’d love to see happen.”

Consultation events for landowners and heritage organisations are planned for later this month and there will be further consultation in spring next year for local businesses and communities along the route, enabling them to find out how to get involved.