The project to create a new 70-mile walk across the heart of Fife to St Andrews has taken a sizeable step forward.
The ambitious Fife Pilgrim Way Project plans to link 13 communities and more than 40 historical sites with a route replicating the footsteps of pilgrims who, throughout history, journeyed from Culross Abbey and the quay at North Queensferry, through Dunfermline and on to St Andrews.
Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (FCCT), which is leading the project, recently secured more than £400,000 in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable the development stage to get under way, beginning with the appointment of a project officer.
The proposed Pilgrim Way route 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 is hoped it will become as popular as Fife Coastal Path.
It will link the region’s 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 St Andrews Cathedral.
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 highlighted the area’s extensive pilgrim heritage.
To mark the official start of the project, members of the steering group gathered at the Cathedral on St Andrew’s Day this week.
Amanda McFarlane, chief executive of FCCT, said: “There has been huge support for it from all of the local communities and we think this new route will be a great addition to Fife’s free visitor attractions.
“Hopefully once completed the Fife Pilgrim Way will attract as many visitors as the Fife Coastal Path, and will help to keep Fife as Scotland’s top destination for outdoor recreation”.
The steering group FCCT, Fife Council, Fife Cultural Trust, Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum, Forth Pilgrim, VisitScotland, Historic Scotland, and The National Trust for Scotland