After five years of restoration led by Fife Coast and Countryside Trust (FCCT), the historic 64-mile Fife Pilgrim Way is officially opening today.
The 64-mile Fife Pilgrim Way route re-opens to the public this lunchtime following extensive development and upgrading over the last five years.
The trail will be the first new long-distance route to open in the Kingdom since the Fife Coastal Path in 2002.
The Fife Pilgrim Way has been restored to make it easier for more people to enjoy the experience through a new website, a walking map, a Pilgrims Passport, an interactive trail, rest points and a smartphone app to share the breath-taking scenery.
The 64-mile inland trail is expected to take between five or six days to complete in its entirety, or users are encouraged to enjoy shorter walks and circular routes using Fife’s existing network of rights of way, paths and tracks.
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The route can begin at either Culross or North Queensferry, crossing through the heart of Fife to St Andrews taking in a host of Scottish treasures including medieval landmarks, picturesque villages and stunning inland views of the Perthshire, Forth and Tay Estuaries and the Lomond Hills.
The trail follows one of the routes taken by countless pilgrims to Scotland’s sacred city, St Andrews - one of the most renowned pilgrim destinations in Medieval Europe for over 400 years.
As part of the wider Fife Pilgrim Way project, FCCT and Fife Cultural Trust are also launching a free, travelling exhibition today at Dunfermline Abbey named The Pilgrim Express, which has been developed in MAC, Fife’s Mobile Museum.
The exhibition will tour the Kingdom for the next two years.
The route is expected to attract 140,000 domestic and international users, rising to 200,000 after four years, while bringing additional tourism to less visited parts of inland Fife.
Commenting on the launch of The Fife Pilgrim Way Stephen Carter OBE, chairman of Fife Coast and Countryside Trust Board, said: “I would like to thank all involved in the completion of this new long distance route for Fife, which underlines the position of Fife as ‘The Outdoor Kingdom’ for the benefit and enjoyment of the citizens of Fife, and many thousands of visitors who choose to spend their leisure time in Fife.”
Lord Thurso, VisitScotland chairman, added: “Scotland is renowned as a tourism destination with excellent walking trails and long-distance routes. This is reflected by over 3.9m of domestic visitor trips to Scotland featuring walking.
“The new Fife Pilgrim Way offers a new route on Scotland’s walking map, giving visitors the opportunity to explore different parts of the Fife on foot by delving into its past from medieval pilgrimage to modern industrial heritage whilst enjoying the great outdoors and the beautiful scenery which Fife has to offer.”
Cllr Ian Cameron, representing Fife Council, said: “The Fife Pilgrim Way is a fantastic opportunity to experience some of the Kingdom’s popular and hidden gems, encouraging visitors from all over the world to enjoy the great outdoors.
“The trail will not only allow walkers to experience some of the region’s picturesque, inland scenery but also encourage positive health and wellbeing.
“The route is there to be enjoyed by everyone from international visitors to Fife locals, and I am confident it will be a huge success.”
The Fife Pilgrim Way received £399,000 funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland towards the route’s restoration, in addition to contributions from other partners.
To find about more about the Fife Pilgrim Way visit the website: http://fifecoastandcountrysidetrust.co.uk/Fife-Pilgrim-Way_68.html