About Orkney Pilgrimage

The St Magnus Way is the first project of Orkney Pilgrimage, a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, which became a registered charity in November 2016 (SC047008). We are a member of the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum.

About Orkney Pilgrimage

Whilst there is a wider group of volunteers helping with many aspects of the St Magnus Way, it is our trustees who are responsible for the oversight and good governance of our work.

Stuart Little – Chair

Stuart spent his working life as a dentist, latterly in Kirkwall. He initially became involved with the St Magnus Way by taking on the management of the path side of the pilgrimage project and co-ordinating the waymarking and route upgrades. Stuart can often be seen somewhere on the Way, strimming paths through the green Orkney grass.

Donna Flett – Treasurer

Donna has worked in an accounting background, both in Orkney and in Aberdeen, since 1987. She qualified as a Member of the Association of Accounting Technicians in 2009 and has worked as a Finance Administrator at Aquatera Limited since 2012. She assists in the delivery of the financial elements of projects as well as producing the management accounts for the company. She also has experience in the grant funding application process and in preparing claims.

Caroline Butterfield

Caroline is a retired Chartered Accountant with a portfolio of non-executive directorships of companies in the renewable energy sector and trusteeships of various Orcadian charities. She is a keen cyclist and has been responsible for setting up the St Magnus Way cycle route as well as helping with fundraising.

Dr Sarah Jane Gibbon

Sarah Jane is a lecturer at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute. Sarah Jane’s research focusses on Orkney’s medieval church with specific reference to parish formation, pilgrimage and places of power and religion. She has recently given papers on St Magnus Pilgrimage to audiences in Orkney (St Magnus Day Lecture, April, Birsay Orkney), Norway (St Olaf Conference, May, Trondheim) and Lithuania (EAA Conference, September, Vilnius) and is part of an international academic network researching medieval pilgrimage in a North Atlantic context. A native of Orkney, Sarah Jane’s research is landscape based and informed by her knowledge of Orkney’s topography, history and culture. Sarah Jane has researched and compiled a Historical Information Report on the route which is downloadable in the Resources section of the website. The list of entries can be viewed here.

Jane Liptrot

Jane Liptrot has a background in agriculture and managed a farm along with her husband in the West Mainland for 25 years. She now runs a Bed and Breakfast and has worked with children in recreation for many years.

Pirjo Little

PIrjo hails from Finland via Nepal and Ellon. A former nurse and midwife, she is trained in spiritual direction and helps run The Well, a monthly reflective prayer group in Orkney. Pirjo helps to manage our team of volunteers.

David Mazza

David is a GP in Westray. Having enjoyed and benefited from walking the St Magnus Way himself, he is keen to support those living in Orkney and those visiting to be able to share this experience. He is involved in a group developing a guidebook on the St Magnus Way.

Orkney LEADER Programme

Phase 1 of this project saw the development of a 55-mile walking route through the Mainland of Orkney inspired by the life of St. Magnus. The development of the route is seen as a significant legacy of the Magnus 900 celebrations and links Evie, Birsay, Dounby, Finstown, Orphir and Kirkwall in a varied route that is predominantly on core paths and minor roads. A website and app using low-energy Bluetooth beacons were developed to provide a range of information and resources on the route - including natural environment, local history and a range of poetic and spiritual reflections in response to the landscape and history.

Phase 2 built on the successful launch of Phase 1 by by installing interpretation boards and stone way-markers on the route and siting a St. Magnus Way table inside St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall where pilgrims can receive pilgrim completion certificates and make donations to the charity.

Phase 1 Total Approved Project Cost £19,392.08. Phase 1 LEADER Grant £9,696.04
Phase 2 Total Approved Project Cost £16,927.10. Phase 2 LEADER Grant £8473.05

Other Funders

Whilst there have been many people interested in, and involved with, pilgrimage in Orkney for a long time, this project began in October 2015 when a group of interested pilgrims began discussing how to better support and encourage pilgrimage in Orkney. It was clear that whilst much was already going on, much more could be done and the best place to start was with St Magnus. The journeys associated with him after his death, along with the growing place of Orkney as a pilgrimage destination in the Middle Ages, made it the ideal project to capture people’s imaginations and encourage exploration of our physical and spiritual heritage.

The impending 900th anniversary seemed the perfect time to launch a project that would outlast the year’s celebrations and whilst the timescale was extremely challenging we began discussing possible routes, trying to link up existing paths and places, and spent Summer 2016 walking in small groups. No one has yet walked all of the St Magnus Way – like eating an elephant we’ve divided up the route into more manageable chunks that smaller groups have been working on.

By September 2016 it was clear that the project was possible, funding was applied for and Orkney Pilgrimage was formerly constituted as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Our first application, to Tesco Bags for Life, was successful and this was the encouragement we needed to keep going. The submission of a bid to the Orkney LEADER programme 2014-2020 helped focus attention on what we could realistically achieve and match funding was sought and, incredibly, obtained.

We began presentations to all the Community Councils, spreading the word and seeking local support and also started a Facebook page as a gathering point for those who were interested. Everything you see on this website and in the route itself is the result of hundreds of hours by volunteers who are passionate about the project.

It has taken a huge amount of hard work, perseverance and form filling as well as many hours pouring over maps, talking with landowners and stakeholders and revising and re-revising plans. But it has also been tremendously rewarding – a demanding common task brings people together, forges friendships and creates connections in all manner of unexpected ways. And we have only just begun – might you be a part of the next phase of our story. Why not support us with your time, talents or money and ensure the St Magnus Way outlives us all.

This project is being part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014 – 2020 Programme