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Ron’s Ramblers from Port Ban have raised £2,000 so far for Mary’s Meals by walking 100 miles along the Columba Way (Slí Cholmcille/Moluag) from Tarbert to Lismore.
The group says the walk demonstrates that a long-distance pilgrimage route linking the Kintyre Way with Oban is feasible.
Jonathan Sheldrick said: ‘Well, we did it! On Saturday September 16 we ended our 100-mile Pilgrimage Walk on Lismore.
‘A group of walkers known as Ron’s Ramblers from Port Ban completed a 100-mile sponsored walk in aid of Mary’s Meals linking Tarbert, Loch Fyne, with Oban and Lismore.
‘Lismore was chosen as the end destination in preference to Iona for time reasons and as it was the base for the Bishops of Argyll, and St Moluag, the patron saint of Argyll, who had arguably a larger role than Columba in the conversion of the Picts to Christianity.
‘The pilgrimage route included several churches, three islands and ferry/boat crossings, three heritage centres (Kilmartin, Luing and Lismore), four castles (Tarbert, Castle Sween, Carnasserie and Dunstaffnage), small detours to the Beaver Trail, the Heart of Argyll Wildlife Centre and Dunadd, and the Cathedral of Trees at Glencruitten House.
‘Highlights were holy communion at St Columba’s Cave and St Moluag’s Cathedral with the Rev David Carruthers and the Rev Ian Barclay respectively, and being guided around Lismore by Dr Robert Hay (author of Lismore, the Great Garden).
‘The walk was made almost completely through areas of breathtaking beauty and historical significance – the so-called ‘thin places’ where Heaven and Earth meet – on existing tracks and quiet B roads. And the route has a choice of alternative routes depending on personal sightseeing preferences, restrictions of time, weather and other circumstances.
‘Accommodation is no problem as there is an excellent bunkhouse as well as B&B and hotel provision along the way. The walk demonstrates that a long-distance pilgrimage route linking the Kintyre Way with Oban is feasible.
‘The next step is to set up an organisation capable of being a partner of the Slí Cholmcille/Slighe Chaluim Chille/St Columba Trail Project, supported by the Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance and the Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum, and, of course, to seek funding to further develop the route.
‘Argyll Countryside Trust has already contacted us with a view to submitting a joint application. A website https://columbapilgrimswalk.com and route maps are being prepared.’
Anyone wishing to help or sponsor the route should contact Jonathan Sheldrick at 01880 770224 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
‘It is still possible to donate to Mary’s Meals – including cash donations we have raised about £2,000 so far.’