Scottish Cross Route
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In 2017 we will be walking the spectacular Scottish Cross Moidart Route starting just south of Fort William and arriving on Island of Iona on Easter Saturday.
The Moidart Route is a stunningly beautiful, exciting and - in places - challenging route comprising of rough paths, sometimes muddy tracks and two days of wild walking where there are few paths apart from the occasional sheep track. There are a number of ferry trips to cross lochs and the sea to Tobermory and Iona. Some of the Moidart route follows old traditional pilgrim routes and through a part of Scotland which is steeped in history. The route crosses wild and stunning countryside where eagles, deer and occasionally wild cats can be seen.
The pilgrimage is approximately 100 miles in total, with most days averaging around 16 miles and this will often include a number of hills. While not all the hills are very steep the terrain is rough and going up and down hills can make tiring tough walking and increase the distance. Pilgrims should be fit and confident walkers and ideally have some experience of hill and wild walking. Weather can be extreme from being very cold, snowing, very heavy rain, but often there are days of glorious sun and with the occasional swim! Good outdoor clothing and boots is essential – good and comfortable waterproof boots, a really good water proof coat and trousers and warm clothing (please see kit list).
The accommodation is simple with a mixture of sleeping on church and village hall floors and nights at independent and SYHA hostels. Breakfast and delicious hearty evening meals provided each day along with a sandwich lunch.
The pilgrimage is overseen by a group of experienced and helpful volunteers, with walking being led by experienced outdoor leaders and first aid trained. You can choose to undertake all of the pilgrimage or on certain days it can be possible to join for a single/part of a day (please enquire).
If you would like to discuss the route or have any questions over length of days and level of fitness needed please contact us. Please note the heights for each day listed below are not the accumulative height gained over the day but the highest single point.
Day 1. Saturday, 8th April: Start at Loch Linnhe
Accommodation: Corran Bunk House (showers available). Arrive at 1800.
The Corran Bunk House, South Corran, Onich sits on the shores of Loch Linnhe and about eight miles south of Fort William. To get to the Corran Bunk House: If arriving via Fort William you can either catch a bus towards Glasgow along the shores of Loch Linnhe (about eight miles) and alight at the Corran Bunkhouse, South Corran, Onich. If coming from Glasgow via bus ask to be dropped at the Corran Bunkhouse in Onich just before the Corran Ferry.
Day 2. Palm Sunday, 9th April: Corran to Glenfiannan.
Accommodation: Glenfinnan Catholic Church and Station Museum Sleeping Car. (Toilets and one shower available in Sleeping Car). Distance: 16 miles. Highest point: 200m (650ft). Grade: Moderate - a long first day, with one steep climb and long (sometime muddy) decent.
The pilgrimage walk starts outside Youth Hostel and then Conaglen House (023683). This is an exciting and beautiful first day walking into wild countryside with breathtaking views and scenery. We walk up Cona Glen along a rough Land Rover track for 11 miles, a steady climb to 650 feet. After 11 miles we head up a steep track and over the broad ridge 'Feithnana Con' and drop down through woods and next to the Callop river eventually meeting Loch Shiel. The three mile track down from 'Feithnana Con' can be hard going especially if it is wet and muddy. We then take a wooden foot bridge over the base of Loch Sheil and walk up the road to the Gelnfinnan Catholic Church and Station Museum railway sleeping car where we will stay the night. During the morning walk we will celebrate Palm Sunday.
Day 3. Monday, 10th April: Glenfinnan to Acharacle via Pollarch Pier.
Accommodation: Acharacale Village Hall (no showers). Distance: 15 miles+ (7 miles optional extra). Highest point: 10m (30ft). Grade: Easy/Moderate - a long flat walk which can be tiring due to distance.
We leave Glenfinann station and head back to the Callop River which we passed at the end of the first day. We then turn west and head along the shores of Loch Shiel for 13 miles. This is a very beautiful long walk along the shore of Loch Shiel. At Pollarch Pier (after 13 miles) we will be met by a boat which will transport us across Loch Shiel to Dalelra Coffin Pier via beautiful Green Isle and St. Finnan's Chapel (where if time allows we may stop to visit). This is the route that the coffins were brought to sacred ground in years gone by and an area rich in history. It was the area in which Bonny Prince Charlie fled and raised his last army. It is area of Scotland which was and remains strongly Catholic since that time. The additional walk from Dalelra into Acharacle is 7 miles, but those who are tired can take the mini bus to Acharacle or even one of the ferries.
Day 4. Tuesday, 11th April: Acharacle to Tobermory via Kilchoan
Accommodation: Tobermory Church of Scotland Church & Hall (showers possible). Distance: 16 miles. Highest point: 285m (900ft).Grade: Moderate - rough walking along sheep tracks, with a number short steep hills and climbs.
We walk out of Acharacle past the village school and then up over the Moors and onto the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. This is again really wild and beautiful countryside and the western most point of the Scottish mainland and if clear there will be magnificent views to the Outer and Inner Hebrides, Isles of Skye, Rum, Egg, Muck and Mull. Look out for otters and also Wild Cats. We cross over the peninsula and drop down onto minor road which heads out towards the end of the peninsula. The mini bus will move us 5 miles along this road as it is narrow and can be busy. We will then turn off left and walking the last 5 miles to Kilochan by rough footpaths and open countryside. At Kilochoan we take the ferry across to Mull and Tobermory. We will be staying at the Tobermory Church of Scotland Church & Hall.
Day 5. Wednesday, 12th April: Tobermory to Salen
Accommodation: Church of Scotland Church & Hall (no showers). Distance: 13 miles. Height: 100m (330ft). Grade: Easy - walking along minor 'B roads' and forestry tracks/roads.
We will walk out of Tobermory and on the road leading south-west towards Calgary. This is a lovely road walk taking us across the moors and past small lochs for about 3.5 miles. We then turn off the road and follow a good track running alongside Loch Friser. This is well known golden eagle countryside and also with a number of hides (bring your binoculars!). We then drop down through woodland and pick up a track at Glenaros House Farm and past Katie's Cottage (1.7 km) for the last 1.5 miles to village of Salen. In Salen we will be staying at the Church of Scotland Church & Hall.
Day 6. Maundy Thursday, 13th April: Salen to Pennyghael
Accommodation: Bunessan Baptist Church (showers available). Distance: 12 miles. Highest point: 450m (1500ft). Grade: Moderate/difficult - hill walking day with steep and long climb and long decent.
On Thursday morning we will walk from Salen a short 4 miles to Knock Farm. We will then we pick up the farm track behind Knock Farm taking us round the back of Ben More (950m). After 3 miles we will head off towards the lower saddle of Ben Moore in order to cross the ridge, this is a steady and straight forward climb. This is a great day and the highest part of the pilgrimage at approximately 500m. On the ridge we head down the main track towards the valley and road from where there is nice 4.5 mile walk along the road into Pennyghael. The mini bus will then transport us to Bunessan where we will stay the night at the Bunessan Baptist Chuch. During the evening we will celebrate Maundy Thursday and the Last Supper.
Day 7. Good Friday, 14th April: Pennyghael to Bunessan via Carsaig and the cliff tops
Accommodation: Bunessan Baptist Church (showers available). Distance: 14 miles. Highest point: 200m (600ft). Grade: Difficult - a hard day's walking across wild countryside, cliff tops and forest trail.
We are dropped by mini bus near Carsaig from where we will proceed south along the high cliff tops walking most of the route across wild and beautiful country and with no obvious path, apart from sheep tracks. Care needs to be taken when walking near the cliff tops especially if the weather is poor and windy. We have an early start around 08:00 as we need to be on the cliffs near Bunessan forest around 2.30 for the Good Friday service. We walk back through on the forestry track to the awaiting minibus and for those keen can continue the short walk of 3 miles into the village of Bunessan where we will stay the night at Baptist Church.
Day 8. Holy Saturday, 15th April: Bunessan to Fionnphort and Iona
Accommodation: Fionnphort Village Hall (showers available).
Distance: 4 miles. Highest point 5m (20ft). Grade: Easy - road and track walking.
On Saturday morning we head down the road toward Fionnphort and take the Pottie road. To get to Pottie we will be transported by mini bus otherwise it means a 7 mile walk along a sometimes busy single lane road. We arrive on Iona around 12.00 where we will leave the Cross in the Abbey until Easter Day. For those interested there is usually a walk around part of the Island and even a swim!
The pilgrimage will be staying in Fionnphort at the village hall (known as the Creich Hall) and at a number of other establishments around the village hall. On Saturday evening we will celebrate the Easter Vigil at Creich Hall.
Day 9. Easter Day, Sunday 16th April
We return to Iona for Easter Day Service and celebrations with the Iona Community, local community and visitors. We will then travel back to Oban and stay in Oban SYHA
Day 10. Easter Monday, 17th April
Departure from Oban and farewells.