Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum

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

Telephone : 01786 841809 E-mail : info@sprf.org.uk
Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation - Charity No. SC045212





Watch out for information on the Autumn Gathering & AGM

We hope in the next few days to post details about the meeting on the 15th September to be held in Markinch, Fife.

SPRF News

Click on the topic to read more about items of news.
The news is detailed in chronological order, the newest to the top.

Argyll Pilgrimage Steering Group

On Wednesday 21st June at the Corran Hall in Oban the Argyll Pilgrim Routes Steering Group was inaugurated.

The establishment of an Argyll Steering Group was first discussed at Craig Lodge Dalmally in the Autumn 2016 while running along side these discussions has been the work of "Faith in the Cowal", the "Slìghe Chaluim Chille/Columba Way" project and the Presbytery of Argyll "Faith Tourism, Heritage and Pilgrimage in Argyll" HLF funding application. With all having a clear focus on the rich chritian heritage of Argyll and the potential from increased faith tourism in Argyll the SPRF initiative is based on walking pilgrimage in this part of Scotland.

At the meeting it was agreed that Jonathan Sheldrick would chair this steering group and that within the work of the group there would be a focus on the following unique pilgrimage opportunites.

  • Developing the pilgrimage focus and theme associated with the Cowal and Kintyre Ways
  • Developing a walking route that would link the northern end of the Kintyre Way with Oban and hence onward to Iona and Lismore. This would be very much based on a forthcoming walk being arranged by Jonathan in September 2017.
  • Making use of an existing core route between Balloch and Tarbet on Loch Lomond to create a pilgrimage way that links in Luss with its established pilgrimage activities.
  • Further explore the already defined but still to be developed Iona to St Andrews cross Scotland pilgrimage route with a specific focus on the route west to Tyndrum.
At this time all of the initiatives are working out how they can best present their elements of work and avoid unnecessary duplication of information, however, as this is being worked out SPRF are pleased to use this news section to inform on the establishment of this steering group and to update on its activites as its work progresses.

Participants at the inaugural meeting. Left to right back row - Donald Hardie, Dr Chris Brett, Nick Cooke, & John Henderson
front row - Calum Macfarlane Barrow, Jonathan Sheldrick & Rev Nicola Moll

Heart & Soul 2017

This was an even more successful event to that of 2016. SPRF had more material to hand out and a bigger story to tell the visitors. We were also stronger in number with Alec Currie, Jimmy McGuiness and Jessie Cross all spending some time helping John Henderson and Nicke Cooke at the stall.

We were also delighted to welcome Her Grace The Princess Royal to the stand, her position being as the High Commissioner to the 2017 General Assembly.

Donate to the work of SPRF

As a charitable organisation having gaining all of its unrestricted income to date through membership levies we are now opening this up to receiving Donations from anyone interested in furthering our aims and objectives. Any money received by this means will be initially credited to the SPRF PayPal account and then transferred as required into our unrestricted funds to be used to further and develop the work of SPRF.


On receipt of a donation SPRF will within a few days e-mail you with an acknowledgement.

2017 Forum Programme

We are able to announce that following details so that they can be put into members diaries. More details for each of the events will follow along with any other dates that may still be arranged.

In addition to the above there is an onging programme of meetings related to all of the developing pilgrim route steering groups.
For more information on these meetings use the contact links on the relevant "Projects" section.

Heart and Soul - Princes Street Gardens

SPRF for the first time on the 22nd May 2016 took a stand at the Heart and Soul event in Edinburgh. This is part of the Church of Scotland's General Assembly week and consists of many exhibitors and services and events in the bandstand.
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The displays that were used featured the Fife Pilgrim Route, the Three Saints Way and the Whithorn Way.
A large number of visitors came by and were very interested in these new pilgrim route developments, we also had members passing by and the image shows Ron Shaw talking with Nick Cooke, Ron just back from walking the Santiago do Compostella pilgrim route.
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Several videos were also taken and we hope to be able to load them to the site shortly.

Charitable Status

As of the 5th November 2014 SPRF has moved from being an unincorporated organisation to that of a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO). This has been the culmination of several months work preparing a revised constitution and presenting an application to the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR).This was all in line with the decision of the SPRF AGM of 2013 and the EGM of spring 2014 when members authorised the management committee to pursue this new structure.

The Constitution retains all the key features of the original constitution but strengthens SPRF's position when dealing with other organisations and grant giving bodies. It also provides the Trustees and Members with greater protection on all contractural matters as well as issues of membership.

A full copy of the Constitution can be read or downloaded by clicking on this link.

As a result of this revised status the members of the Management Committee are now Trustees of the organisation while membership and associate member status remain unaltered.

Glentarken Bridge Opening
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On the 9th May 2014 the new Glentarken Bridge close to Lochearnhead was formally opened by Cameron McNeish.
This has been a vital link in developing an off road walking and cycling route along the north side of Loch Earn. A key person in the planning and delivery of this key element has been Geoff Hardman-Carter, one of SPRF's members.
This is going to be a key part of the planned Iona to St Andrews Pilgrim route and a part of the Three Saints Way which is being developed in parallel with the strong leadership of Roseanna Cunningham MSP. The Three Saints Way is the section of the larger coast to coast route and will run from Killin to Abernethy.
Shown in the centre picture from left to right is Cameron McNeish, Roseanna Cunningham and Geoff Hardman-Carter.

Paisley Ecumenical Pilgrimage - 5th to 11th April
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Pilgrims and support team at start of St Cuthbert's Way


Pilgrimage logo


Some of the Pilgrims at the "Saddle" on the Eildon Hills

Inspired by the success of the Paisley 850 pilgrimage, a further pilgrimage event, this time on St Cuthbert's Way, has been organised and at the time of posting this news, they are still walking the route towards Lindisfarne.
This occasion the setting up of the Pilgrimage has been masterminded and lead by Gerry Murdoch, a member of the St Mirin's Cathedral congregation. The pilgrims come from several churches and differing denominations in the greater Paisley area and as with the Paisley 850 walk to Whithorn they are assisted by a small group with vehicle support.
In somewhat overcast conditions the group set off from Melrose on Saturday morning but after crossing the high point on the Eildons the weather started to break up. One of the greatest challenges on this initial stage was the ground conditions, mud might best describe it.
Within the group were several active members of SPRF and although one such member only took part in the initial stages it was clear that the group were in good heart and looking forward to the seven day pilgrimage.

YWAM Norway

YWAM stands for Youth With A Mission and is a worldwide Christian network. It was founded by Loren Cunningham in 1960 and now has a presence in over 1,100 locations in 180 countries with a staff of over 18,000. For much more detail on the work and ministery of YWAM visit www.ywam.org

One of the groups who are located in northern Norway has been in contact with SPRF over a number of months and in February 14 two of the group leaders, with their son, visited Scotland and caught up with John Henderson (one of SPRF's members).

The picture is of Arno and Rolinke Bremer and their son enjoying a walk in the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens.

The Norwegian YWAM group www.www.uionordland.no are interested in the growth of Pilgrimage Walking and especially Celtic Pilgrimage and are researching new areas where their DTS students might get involved in experiencing and interacting with modern day Pilgrims and Spiritual Seekers. This could result in them having a presence at times here in Scotland, but this is all at a very early exploratory stage.
As a reseult of the brief meeting SPRF has been able to make some suggestions and forwarded one or two contact details of individual and bodies in Scotland who might be able to collaborate.

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2014 Update - meetings have been taking place since the walk featured below, this looking at how the route already walked under the banner of "850 Pilgrimage" can be made more accessible to others to walk and enjoy.
Progress has been made and it is the intention to create what is being called a "Virtual Pilgrimage Route" in the not too distant future where a website will detail the significance of the route and the Christian Heritage along the Way. It will also assistance with maps and route directions. It is additionally SPRF's intention to shortly add the work of this project team to the Projects section of this website and to encourage those who have an interest in a Pilgrimage route running from Glasgow via Paisley to Whithorn to come forward and support this development.

As part of the 850 anniversary of the founding of Paisley Abbey a pilgrimage walk was set up and undertaken in sections between Paisley Abbey and Whithorn Priory. This took place over 2012/13 and attracted many pilgrim walkers.
At the end of the journey south a smaller group then walked north in a continuous pilgrimage, and coming from these endeavours work is now beginning to look at both making this a recognised Pilgrim Way and to extend its northern end to Glasgow.
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Argyll Stone & St Conval's Chariot


St Conval's sculpture


Hogback stones

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Govan Old Parish Church


Govan Sarcophagus


End of section - Glasgow Cathedral


As part of this development undertaking the Paisley Abbey pilgrim leaders of Sylvia Jenks, Robin Craig and Jessie Cross have now enlisted the support from Susie Cormack Brown of the Ayrshire Pilgrims' Trail and John Henderson of Walking Support. In early November the group set off from Paisley Abbey to explore and develop a route to Glasgow Cathedral, the above are images taken from that walk.
The likely route will add 13 miles to the overall length of the pilgrimage to Whithorn but it is thought to be well worth the extra with all the added early Christian heritage that will be found in this short section of walking.
We would hope that over the coming months this exciting project will be featured further. For more information Sylvia Jenks, one of the Forum's nominated members would be the initial person to contact for more details.

SPRF Management Committee

The following persons were appointed to the Management Committee at the 2013 AGM held on the 27th September 13.

  • Chairperson - Rev Prof David Atkinson
  • Secretary - Nick Cooke
  • Treasurer - John Henderson
  • Committee - Shona Paterson
  • Committee - Roger Pickering
  • Committee - John Graham
  • Committee - Neil Ramsay

Scottish Pilgrimage Gathering

The "Scottish Pilgrimage Gathering 2013" was held on Friday 27th September at the Vine Venue in Dunfermline.
Keynote speechs were given by Riddell Graham (Director - Visit Scotland), Peter Yeoman (Historic Scotland)and Rev Dr Ian Bradley (St Andrews University) There was also a lively panel question and answer session chaired by Billy Kay and including the addition of Rev Dr Richard Frazer.
Following lunch there was a series of workshop sessions and throughout the day there was a number of exhibits and trade fair stalls.
The event was a collaboration between Forth Pilgrim and SPRF with the support and backing of Fife Council.
Below are a few images from the main hall of the Vine.
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Rev Dr Ian Bradley


General view of the Vine Auditorium


Billy Kay chairing the panel discussion


For a detailed report on this "Gathering" download a PFD file by clicking on this link.

National Planning Framework

SPRF steering commmitte has been encouraged and has submitted a response to the current National Planning Framework 3 consultation process. This is in part with regard to the future development of paths and cycle ways within Scotland and SPRF has been keen to register our thoughts and plans for pilgrimage walking route.
Members of SPRF are encouraged to access the membership section where a copy of the submission is available to read and download.

Forum Meeting at Paisley Abbey - 11th April 2013

The second Forum Meeting will take place at Paisley Abbey on 11th April 2013 (10.00 for coffee, start of agenda 10.30), by kind invitation of the Rev Alan Birss and his team. Details of the final programme are posted in the "Events Section" of the website.
The intention is to broadly follow the successful format of the first Meeting held at Luss last October. We do hope you or your organisation will be able to attend.
This is a historic and prestigious venue. The home page of the Abbey's official website at www.paisleyabbey.org.uk/contact-us shows the cloisters entrance to the Abbey which leads through to the Palace (or Place of Paisley) building on the south side which incorporates spacious rooms on the first floor that we will be using for the meeting. For a background note and OS location map of the Abbey, see also www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/paisley/abbey/index.html.
There are good rail and bus links to Paisley for those using public transport.

This Forum meeting will give us an important opportunity to learn more about the historic role of the Abbey in the development of medieval pilgrimage in Scotland, now being actively revived through the current programme of commemorative 'Paisley 850' one day pilgrimage walks linking the Abbey to Whithorn and developed by Sylvia Jenks, who will be joining us for the day. It also provides the ideal context for hearing of current progress with the establishment of designated pilgrim walking routes in south west Scotland, e.g. Ayrshire, Argyll, and the isle of Arran, as well as updates on significant pilgrim route projects elsewhere.
As always, a key aim of the day is to facilitate networking and information sharing - we are a Forum after all! Your Committee will be providing news of current developments and plans, including the first 'Scottish Pilgrimage' gathering to be held in Dunfermline, Fife on 27th September which will incorporate our AGM for 2013. Please make a note of this date in the diary.

This notice is being mailed to the current paid up SPRF membership, following the introduction of the agreed structure adopted at Luss. A full list of members now appears on the SPRF website together with web links for all Full members, and currently comprises 17 organisations and individuals. Please note that a Full member organisation can send up to three delegates to any Forum meeting without paying any attendance fee. However, at Paisley we will be charging everyone £7 per head for teas, coffees and a soup and sandwich lunch.

SPRF warmly encourages all who have participated in previous discussions to join us at Paisley. Please let us know of other contacts who you think might be interested in coming as potential members. Although an inclusive £27 fee per person will apply in such cases, which covers the event and catering cost, the first £20 of this can be offset against the first year's membership fee if organisations or individuals join the Forum on the day.

To help us finalise the programme for the day, I would be most grafetul if you could use the attached form to (a) confirm your attendance and (b) state your preference for one plenary discussion topic to be included, and /or let us know what other issues you would like to see raised at the meeting.

AGM Meeting at Luss

A very interesting and successful meeting and first AGM was held at the Pilgrimage Centre in Luss on the 18th October 2012.
Luss Pilgrimage Glebe
Luss Pilgrimage Glebe
A total of 21 members of the current Forum were warmly welcomed to the Pilgrim Centre by Rev Prof David Atkinson as Chairman of the interim Management Commitee.
The morning session had the following short presentation.

  • From Culross to Luss - Nick Cooke - SPRF Secreetary
  • Fife Pilgrim Trail Network - Roger Pickering - Forth Pilgrim
  • Scotland's Pilgrim Journeys - Brian Fraser - Scotland's Churches Trust
  • Iona to St Andrews - John Henderson - Walking Support
  • Luss - Scotland's "Green Pilgrimage City" - Rev Dr Dane Sherrard - Luss Parish Church
For a fuller report on this event click on this link and download the PDF report.

AGM Meeting
The next full meeting of all interested members will be held on Thursday 18th October in Luss (banks of Loch Lomond). This will be at the Pilgrimage Centre which is part of Luss Parish Church.
This will be the first AGM of the new Forum and it will be very helpful to have as many interested persons and organisations present on this day.
More information can be seen on the Events page but please do place this date in your diary now.
The agenda for the AGM and the prograamme for the full day's event are downloadable by clicking:-

Interim Chairman
Rev Prof David Atkinson.
The Management Committee were delighted when David agreed to take on the role of Chairperson. David has a wealth of experience that will help to direct and lead SPRF in its early stages of development. He comes to the Forum as a past Vice Principal of the Scottish Agricultural College, the present Convenor of the Scottish Churches Rural Group, and an advisor to many bodies on matters relating to crop production and genetic modification. To add to this he is also a Scottish Episcopal Minister to a congregation in Aberdeenshire. David has been active over many years in the Pilgrimage development debates and meetings.

Interim management committee
The Management Committee will initially consist of the previous Steering Group Members up until the next full meeting of all SPRF members, the date for this is now confirmed as being the 18th October 2012.

The posts that were agreed are:-

  • Chairperson - Rev Prof David Atkinson
  • Secretary - Nick Cooke
  • Treasurer - John Henderson
  • Committee - Susi Cormack Brown
  • Committee - Shona Paterson
  • Committee - Roger Pickering
  • Committee - Harry Sprange
These posts are only on an interim term up until the meeting of the wider membership at which point the membership will be able to determine if such a committee is to be upheld.

Adoption of the Constitution
We can report on the meeting of the Steering Group held on the 25th May 2012. At this meeting and as we had receiving no adverse comments from the Culross particpants to the draft constitution, the Steering Group proceed to adopt the constitution and to appoint certain officebearers and members of the management committee.

A copy of the constitution can be downloaded by clicking on this link.

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