At the bottom of this news article are the St Magnus Way’s annual reports for 2019. They describe the work we did last year to develop the route and enhance pilgrims' experience. For the first time, we have an online report describing our digital performance.

We have all been shaken by the restrictions the COVID-19 has placed on our lives, but many activities, in preparation for when pilgrimages resume, still go on. None of us is unaffected by Coronavirus and the disease has been fatal for thousands as well as making many more seriously ill. The realisation that we are more dependent on each other than first thought has hit home. The ways we work, communicate and spend our leisure time have all had to change, and travel has been stripped back to the bare essentials.

The St Magnus Way is not exempt from these limitations placed on all of society, yet the parts which remain open are there for the community at a time when many are rediscovering the thriving microcosms on their doorsteps. Though the intense meditative experience of pilgrimage cannot be achieved at present, walkers may feel a resonance with the themes of loss and change that the Way invites us to reflect upon.

In 2019 the St Magnus Way achieved a lot and developed the route such that will benefit pilgrims for years to come. We commissioned and installed new interpretation boards and stone waymarkers at Egilsay, Gurness, Birsay, Dounby, Finstown, Orphir and Tingwall. Iain Ashman designed the boards and sculptor Frances Pelly made the mini-monolith markers at the start of each section. In conjunction with the unveiling of each of these, we led six guided walks.

Alongside improvements to the walking route including enhanced drainage at Naversdale, we planned out a new cycling version of the St Magnus Way. Unfortunately, we had to postpone the launch of this, which was due to coincide with the weekend of the feast day of St Magnus on 16th April, because of the Coronavirus lockdown. However, we hope to open the route as soon as it is safe.

We also made great progress in terms of the technology pilgrims can use to enhance their experience of the Way. Our app was upgraded to incorporate a GPS-based system which is far more reliable than the previous use of Bluetooth beacons.

Trustees of Orkney Pilgrimage participated in two conferences – the Scottish Episcopal Church Pilgrimage Conference and the Annual Conference of Scottish Pilgrimage Routes. Over this year, we have been able to connect with other pilgrimage routes from across Scotland via social media and even further afield to Norway and the St Olaf’s Way.

You can read more about what we did in 2019 in this annual report:

St Magnus Way Annual Report 2019

Click here to download the St Magnus Way Annual Report for 2019.

Published on May 6th 2020

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