HOARDS of Christian pilgrims could soon be heading towards Whithorn if plans to reopen a trail closed since the Reformation, 300 years ago, get the go ahead.
The 75-mile walk from Kilbirnie or Largs would go through Ayr, Maybole and Girvan before finishing at Whithorn’s Candida Casa, the first church founded in Scotland by St Ninian in the fifth century.
After a feasibility study commission by the Maybole Historical Society, European funding is now being sought to re-establish the route that was used for centuries by Scots, Irish, English, Scandanavians and other European pilgrims until they were banned as part of the Protestant Reformation.
Highlights along the route for the walkers would include Crossraguel Abbey at Maybole and Glenluce Abbey.
Janet Butterworth, project manager of the Whithorn Trust said: “The Whithorn Trust is absolutely delighted that there is progress to develop the pilgrimage routes to Whithorn. The route through Ayrshire is something we have been campaigning for over quite a period. We have already established a cycling route from Glenluce to Whithorn but it is in need of a few repairs before we can fully promote it. The council are hoping to carry out work in the summer. The aim is to attract walkers and cyclists to Whithorn along the routes.
“There seems to be an awakening nationally - pilgrimage is a chance to take time out from a busy lifestyle, a time to reflect and relax. Where better to do that than taking the route from Glasgow, south through Ayrshire and into Galloway”.
Pilgrim walks are currently enjoying a revival all over Europe. Although church attendance is falling, research shows that the numbers of people taking part in pilgrimages - spiritual and cultural journeys - are rising.