Pilgrims can choose to participate in the commemoration of Orkney’s patron saint from the saddle, with the option of cycling the whole route in one go or breaking it up into more manageable sections.
As with any cycle ride, you will need to be prepared for changes in the weather, punctures, broken chains and all the other mishaps that go with cycling. Check out the route in advance, make sure your bike is in good working order, stay within your comfortable limits when planning which part of the route to ride and take your mobile phone with you (and preferably a companion who can fetch help if you get into difficulty). There are many parts of the route where you will not get a mobile phone signal, hence the need to be self-reliant. The experience will be very weather dependent, so do check out the forecast before you set off and carry waterproofs, no matter what the forecast says - Orkney’s weather is very changeable! The route is not sign-posted, so you will need to download GPS files or print off maps and directions from the routes below. The only cycle shop in Orkney is in Tankerness Lane, Kirkwall – tel 01856 875777.
The cycling route goes past the start and endpoints of each of the five mainland sections of the walking route, each of which has interpretation boards, but largely sticks to tarmacked roads so diverges from the walking route in many places. You are recommended to stop at each of these sectional start/endpoints to read the interpretation boards and view the carved Waystones. You may also like to download the St Magnus Way app and view the additional resources for these points on your ride.
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 except the island of Egilsay. Starting in Kirkwall and traversing almost the whole West Mainland of Orkney, this 67-mile route will call in at Evie’s Broch of Gurness, Birsay’s St Magnus Kirk and Orphir’s Round Kirk. Click the Play button on the plotaroute animation below to take you round the route and to display a menu of options, including download into various GPS file formats and print off map and directions.
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.
While the St Magnus Way is happy to provide this information for cycling on the St Magnus Way Cycle Route it accepts no liability for any loss, injury or ill health occurring as a result of cycling any of the routes or visiting any of the sites suggested in our publications.
We strongly advise following safe cycling and The Highway Code for cyclists.
Published on March 15th 2020