Aerial drone footage to create virtual pilgrim route

The Whithorn Trust met with representatives of the Whithorn Way Steering Group and the Scottish Pilgrimage Routes Forum at historic Paisley Abbey
The Whithorn Trust met with representatives of the Whithorn Way Steering Group and the Scottish Pilgrimage Routes Forum at historic Paisley Abbey

Footage from aerial drones is to be used to create a virtual reality pilgrimage route in Galloway.

The Whithorn Trust met with representatives of the Whithorn Way Steering Group and the Scottish PIlgrimage Routes Forum at historic Paisley Abbey this week to launch their new marketing initiatives aimed at putting the spotlight on the ancient pilgrimage route to Whithorn.

The scheme, which is in part funded by Dumfries and Galloway LEADER and the Heritage Lottery Fund, aims to create drone footage of the entire 145-mile route, highlighting the monuments and stunning landscapes and sea views which will make this walk one of the best walking routes in Scotland.

Development Manager, Julia Muir Watt, said : “Many of the roads in the South of Scotland were formed by pilgrims on their way to Whithorn; often unrecognised, many place names and surviving structures still echo that heritage, which we are aiming to bring to life. We will be using aerial film to guide the walker via smartphones and online platforms and the latest in 3D modelling to reconstruct virtually the ruins of the great abbeys and churches. Blended with the live footage, this should give a vivid impression of what the mediaeval pilgrim heading for one of the the greatest shrines in Scotland would have seen en route. We hope that increased awareness of the route, especially in the Central Belt, will bring more visitors and prosperity to all the communities on the route and recognition for the heritage which was formed by and catered for people walking to Whithorn for over a thousand years. We’re also installing new sections of footpath linking Whithorn with the coast, which should benefit local people as well as visitors.”

There are many ways people can get involved - from walking the route (the next walk from Ayr to Maybole in August), to assisting as volunteers with path clearance, and through schools’ participation in desiging unique pilgrim stamps reflecting their community identity and helping with advice on local heritage and child-friendly features for a new proposed guidebook.

There are also exciting plans to coordinate a walk with the start of Wigtown Book Festival in September this year.

The Whithorn Trust has been delighted with the response to its new project and grateful for the support from the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum, currently developing five routes across Scotland, and especially the Whithorn Way group, which has walked and professionally mapped the entire route. Historic Environment Scotland’s properties at Crossraguel, Glenluce, and Glasgow, to name a few, will be among those to be expertly reconstructed in 3D.

Lucy Casot, Head of HLF Scotland, said: “Our natural heritage is a most precious resource and, thanks to National Lottery players, HLF grants have helped to protect an amazing range of landscapes, habitats, and species of plants and animals. HLF is delighted to support The Whithorn Way : Glasgow to Whithorn Pilgrimage Route that will stimulate people’s interest in the natural world and the many historic monuments along the route.”

Other funders and supporters include Dumfries and Galloway Council, the Galloway Association of Glasgow, the John Younger Trust and the Friends of Ninian and Whithorn.