Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum

A network of organisations and individuals committed to developing routes for off-road pilgrimage travel across Scotland

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SPRF Projects - Iona to St Andrews

This is a Pilgrimage route talked about since 2008 - if not earlier. There have been many interested individuals but up until the establishment of a sub group /project within SPRF there has been no clear co-ordination of effort. SPRF is hoping to be the reference point to move from conversation to a route on the ground.

For the latest activity relating to this pilgrim route click on this link.

The development sub-group was formed following Culross and now has 10 interested participants/groups. Work so far has been mainly by e-mail and phone but there has also been a very useful meeting with Roseanna Cunningham MSP in October.

So far some initial mapping work has been done based around existing walking routes and published core paths. These are noted below. This would suggest that the Pilgrim route would be approximately 185 miles long.
Iona to Craignure / Oban – 35 miles 2 /3 walking stages.
Oban to St Andrew – 150 miles and 10 walking stages.
A more northerly route taking in Dunkeld would add to the distance and time required. This might be a secondary option that need to be explored.

The consensus view is that for this to succeed

  • The route needs to be attractive to both Pilgrims and the Long Distance Walkers.
  • The route needs to pass through communities at key distances and the Way needs to bring local economic benefit.
  • The route must be accessible to transport and support services.
  • The route should use as many core paths as possible.
  • In general landowners and local authority access officers require to be supportive of the concept.
  • The route needs to be scenic and full of relevant heritage with significant pilgrim content.
Following the Luss meeting and presentation on this project the task for the group is to
  • Obtain consensus on the most likely route.
  • Physical surveys of the route and report on condition.
  • Develop the spiritual story and test its validity.
  • Start to work with local communities and Local Authorities.
Linking of paths and routes and reviewing element of the Stevenson Way, Way to the Isles, Glen Noe, Glen Finglass , Glen Orchy. Brian Smailes “Coast to Coast”, Rob Roy Way, Glen Lednock, Fife Coastal Path, & Mary Queen of Scots Way.

Work on checking out possible routes has been undertaken on several sections. Below are some images from the section between Crieff and Dunning which was undertaken in July 2014.

Walking group to south of Crieff at Templemill on River Earn

Walking on discussed railway track with Pirnhill plantation on right

Passing by Auchinglen Cottage

Bridge over the River Earn at Colquhaizie

Roman Road near to Shearerston

Roman Road north of Raith

Watch tower at Ardunie under the care of Historic Scotland

Looking north from Muir O' Fauld to Gorthy Woods in the distance

Muir O' Fauld watch tower, part of the Roaman's Gask Frontier

Looking across Strathearn towards Dunning

Dalreoch Bridge

St Serf's in Dunning

Below are some images from an earlier exercise (February 2013) in the Dalmally, Stonmilchan, Glen Noe region.

Start of track at Castles farm

Looking west to watershed and head of Glen Noe

Half way on ascent to watershed. Beinn a' Chochuill to right

Looking back to Dalmally

Ruth and John at the highest point

Mountains on the descent into Glen Noe

Track descent down Glen Noe

Calum and Ruth at the highest point

Sheep gathering at Glennoe farm

Looking west up Glen Noe

Loch Etive

Looking back up Loch Etive from shore path to Taynuilt

The route exploration was conducted on a fine February day with Calum MacFarlane Barrow and Ruth Black from Craig Lodge House of Prayer along with John Henderson of Walking Support

Heading further east these are pictures from Glen Orchy and Loch Lyon.

Waterfall on the River Orchy

Beinn Dorian and Beinn an Dothaidh

Waterfall below Meall Buidhe at Loch Lyon

Looking East along Loch Lyon

Gleann Meurain

Meall na Cnap Laraich and mountains to south side of Glen Lyon

Looking West along Loch Lyon from Lubreoch Dam

Track on south side of Loch Lyon looking west

South west corner of Loch Lyon

April 2018 - For the third year running the Craig Lodge House of Prayer in Dalmally are holding a guided pilgrimage walk from Dalmally to Iona using the St Conan's Way. This is a route that has been developed by Craig Lodge and sections on the mainland going by Glen Noe can be seen in some of the images above.
The complete website for St Conan's Way can be accessed by linking to

July 2014 - A group of walkers set off from Crieff to walk a planned section of the Pilgrimage route that would take the Way to Dunning some 14 miles to the east. This walking group was make up of SPRF and Three Saints Way participants and the outcome of the walk was very positive. At some points the route makes use of core paths, some better maintained to that of others, but all accessible and would improve as more boots are on the ground. Other sections may need some small revisions and at one point there may have to be some consideration on the exact route resulting from landowner considerations.

The walking group - Andrew Donaldson, Andrew Thompson, Felicity Martin, Sheena Cleland, Roseanna Cunningham & Ken Heiser. Taking the photo, John Henderson

March 2014 - Under the chairmanship of Roseanna Cunningham MSP a small committee of interested parties in the Strathearn area have been meeting to progress the development of the route in the section between Killin and Abernethy. This group has several of the SPRF Iona to St Andrews project group as members and with this additional support it is hoped that this group will very shortly announce the establishment of a route know as the "Three Saints Way". Much of this has been made possible by the completion of the Glen Tarken path and installation of the new bridge. This was achieved principally through the work of Geoff Hardman-Carter of the St Fillans Path Group.

Also it is worth noting that the National Planning Framework document (NPF3) has identified the Iona to St Andrews route as one that should be developed although it is in a 5 to 10 year timescale. There is also debate over the preferred route with SNH presently suggesting a more southerly line along the Hillfoot paths. SPRF and the Three Saints Way strongly favour a more northerly route for both heritage / pilgrimage connections and from a scenic point of view. Representation on this matter is being actively pursued by SPRF and others.

Regarding the across Mull section, a comprehensive consultants report has now been issued and hopefully this will prove helpful in progressing this development and securing money to allow for what will be a major development project. SPRF gave significant evidence and comments to the consultant and it would be fair to say that SPRF welcomes the output of this consultancy.

For more information on this project or to input to the work of the group please contact the group via this e-mail link.

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