Culture

Creating a Virtual Pilgrimage: The St Magnus Way

The St Magnus Way, a pathway route in Orkney, provides people with a chance to explore the landscape and their thoughts.

St Magnus Way Birsay

St Magnus Way Birsay

Some parts of it are easier than others. Some people have walked all the routes, others just part of one. Everyone who has experienced walking The St Magnus Way has found it a thoughtful experience.

“Walking the St Magnus Way is no stroll, but it engaged me in imaginative, challenging and diverse ways. I glimpsed God in history, creation and people, through getting to know more about St Magnus, being blown away by the landscapes and wildlife, and getting an insight into Orkney life today including generous hospitality.” Caro Penny

Egilsay St Magnus

Egilsay: St Magnus Way

But what if you are unable to walk the St Magnus Way, due to the limitations of lockdown, or of distance, or because you have mobility issues?

The St Magnus Way Virtual Experience

On 4th June the St Magnus Way launched a crowdfunding campaign in conjunction with Calor Gas with an initial target of £1,500.

It has been set up to build a virtual experience for pilgrims who, due to barriers of distance and mobility issues, cannot walk the Way in person. Pilgrimage should be accessible to all and it is hoped that this, in addition to structural improvements, will contribute to that end.

Any additional award from Calor is dependent on community support being demonstrated.

“By visiting our campaign page and clicking “like” or hitting the “share” button, you add one point to our total. A pledge, i.e. donation, of any amount, big or small, to our crowdfunding campaign will grant us 10 points.  We need as many points as possible in order to have a chance of qualifying.”

Since the Magnus 900 year in 2017, hundreds of pilgrims from far and wide have participated in the commemoration of Orkney’s patron saint by booting up and heading out across the West Mainland over each of the St Magnus Way’s sections.

In some places, however, the route is more challenging than it needs to be, and part of the money raised from this campaign will be used to improve the path in certain areas.

The organisers state:

“We are in the process of developing a virtual St Magnus Way using spectacular drone footage by Colin Keldie, which will enable would-be pilgrims with accessibility issues to experience the beauty and drama of the walk alongside all the audio and textual resources on the historical significance of each waypoint, as well as materials for spiritual reflection.

“When we established the St Magnus Way, we knew that parts of the route went over rough terrain and unsteady ground, but this was done with a view to future improvement.

“This project also aims to add several gates (reducing the need to clamber over stiles) and move fences in a couple of areas to increase safety.”

Funding the Campaign

Orkney Pilgrimage is seeking £1,500 out of the total cost of £4,000.

This would leave £2,500 which would be  achieved by gaining enough points to be eligible for a prize.

“We do have some reserves to make up a shortfall if we are not selected, however, and if we exceed our initial target on top of funding provided by Calor, all money will go towards future improvement of the Way.”

Project costs:

3 gates:                  £1,500

Moving fences:   £500

Drone footage:   £2,000

Total cost:            £4,000


To read more about the St Magnus Way use the search button on The Orkney News website.

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