Pilgrimage season is firmly upon us and this year marks an important milestone in the development of the St Magnus Way. For the first time, pilgrims can participate in the commemoration of Orkney’s patron saint from the saddle, with the official opening of new cycle routes next month.
The Whole Thing
Our various routes are designed for seasoned cyclists through to intermediate enthusiasts up for a challenge. The first of these encompasses the scope of the entire Way with the exception of the island of Egilsay. Starting in Kirkwall and traversing almost the whole West Mainland of Orkney, this 60-mile route will call in at Evie’s Broch of Gurness, Birsay’s St Magnus Kirk and Orphir’s Round Kirk.
The Northern Section
This 40-mile circular route starting and finishing in Finstown takes in the northern part of the Way and represents the larger loop of the figure of eight laid out in the entire pilgrimage. Missing out Orphir and Kirkwall, you can still visit the settlement at Aikerness and the site of the kirk in Birsay established by Earl Thorfinn in 1064. If you’re flagging around the thirty-mile mark, Fursbreck Pottery is a designated toilet stop where you can also purchase pilgrimage tokens for £2.50 and beautifully crafted mugs for £17.50.
The Southern Section (from Finstown)
Stretching 27 miles in total, the southern section of the St Magnus Way explores Orphir and represents the smaller loop of the figure of eight. Calling in at the Orkneyinga Saga centre it is a chance to reconnect with the islands’ rich Norse heritage before reaching Magnus’s final resting place at the cathedral in Kirkwall giving you the inspiration to complete the circuit.
The Southern Section (from Kirkwall)
Much the same is the 27-mile option starting in Kirkwall for town-based cyclists. Starting at the end you will experience the humble beginnings and harrowing origins of the magnificence you leave behind.
We are planning an event to coincide with the weekend of St Magnus Day on 16th April, so watch this space for more information.
Published on March 15th 2020