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Scottish Cross was founded as a result of Alan Riley and Anthony O'Mahony meeting on the Carlisle leg of Northern Cross in Holy Week 1996.
The Carlisle leg of Northern Cross is a beautiful pilgrim walk along Hadrians Wall, up the Pennine Way and through the Northumbrian Hills to Lindisfarne, the home of Saint Cuthbert. As they walked along Alan and Anthony began talking about other potential pilgrimage routes. It occurred to both of them that Iona was both an alternative pilgrim destination and that it was in some respects easier to organise a pilgrim route in Scotland than in England. Scotland has a number of long distance walking routes which are well supported with bunkhouses and other facilities and there is a legal right to roam. They also realised that 1997 being the 1400th anniversary of the death of the founder of Iona Abbey, Saint Columba, was an ideal time to launch a new pilgrimage. They aimed to run a trial cross-carrying pilgrimage to Iona in Holy Week 1997 using the West Highland Way as the backbone of the route.
At that time Alan was based at Edinburgh University. He gained the support of the Dominican Priory who ran the chaplaincy at the University, and in particular, the support of Fr Tom Kearns OP, then the Edinburgh University RC chaplain. So on Palm Sunday 1997 a small group of Edinburgh students, with Alan and Tom Kearns headed off to Loch Lomond to begin the first Scottish Cross pilgrimage to Iona. They were joined on the pilgrimage by a group of friends including Anthony and Natasha Hassall. Altogether around 15 Scottish Cross pilgrims arrived in Iona for Easter Sunday 1997.
During the following years Scottish Cross was developed and grew under the guidance of Alan, Anthony, Natasha and Fr Tom so that by 2000 over 50 pilgrims walking on two routes arrived on Iona to celebrate Easter.
In 2011 a small group of pilgrims carried out a pilot pilgrimage across the Moidart peninsula. This is currently the route that Scottish Cross follows.