The St Magnus Way is a 55 mile pilgrimage route through Mainland Orkney, inspired by the life and death of Magnus, Orkney’s patron saint.

Total distance55.05 miles (88.6km)
Total ascent1,128m (3,700ft)
Total on road24.65 miles (39.7km)
Total off road30.4 miles (48.9km)

It incorporates rough coastal walking, inland track and road walking, hill climbing and even a short forest walk. The St Magnus Way is in five main sections each offering a very different landscape and reflective space. It can be walked in four good days, five gentler days or three intensive days but we also encourage walking the route in shorter three to four mile sections over a longer time period.

Each section will be launched at a different point in the year along with a series of resources which provide more information for reflection along the route. By using bluetooth beacons, pilgrims can access resources relevant to the point in the route and their own interests, without needing a mobile signal. Together the blend of real world exploration and online resources allows people the opportunity to discover more about Orkney and themselves as they walk.

  • The first section from Evie to Birsay follows the route of Magnus’ body when his mother pleaded for it to be returned from Egilsay for a Christian burial in Birsay.
  • Around twenty years later his bones were taken to Kirkwall. The second section follows this route from Birsay, through Dounby to Finstown.
  • From there he was likely taken by sea to Kirkwall, so we head up over Lyradale to Orphir, reflecting on Haakon’s penitent pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Round Kirk he built on return.
  • Our final section journeys around Scapa Flow to Kirkwall, and the Cathedral that bears his name.

Pilgrims are encouraged to start their journey on Egilsay, the site of Magnus’ martyrdom, around the year 1117. The ferry returns you to Tingwall, from where you can either walk or drive to Gurness, the starting point for the mainland pilgrimage.

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