Part 1 of McGonks' attempt to follow the 'Pilgrim Way'
|Torhouse Stone Circle|
As you'll perhaps have noticed on the McGonks Facebook page, we are now trying to find out much more about a place named Whithorn and it's many links with Scotland's past - Vikings, Romans, the arrival of Christianity to Scotland and royal visits by such famous people as Mary, Queen of Scots and Robert Bruce.
This is in no way a pilgrimage nor is it in any way religious, it is a simple exploration of a road that is said to join the Southern Upland Way (Britain's first official coast to coast long distance foot-path) near the famous Glenluce Abbey then run all the way down through the Machars of Galloway to the Isle of Whithorn, where the remains of St Ninian's Chapel still stand to this day.
The Machars of southwest Scotland are home to many, many interesting places of national historical note. We believe The Whithorn Trust is like the information hub for anyone wanting to find out more about this area, offering helpful advice and information relating to all of the following historic sites:
There's also Whithorn Priory, a place where no McGonk has yet to venture, so we are planning on visiting all of these locations this summer AND attempting to make it to Glenluce Abbey to complete all stretches of the original Pilgrim Way. In doing this, we hope to help raise awareness (and funds) to help save The Whithorn Trust. We've already set up a donations page and linked to a petition that we beseech you to sign and then spread the word to all your friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances to do likewise. Only by saving the Trust can we save the visitor centre and, in so doing, have somewhere of historical interest to meet and greet all the ex-pats who will be visiting Scotland during Homecoming 2014. Having some place to enjoy a cuppa whilst learning about their Scottish heritage has to be high on the list of priorities if we are bringing our long-lost relatives all the way across that big pond known as the Atlantic!
But let's get back to the case in hand bfore we become too distracted. Our route starts probably halfway between the start and finish of the original Pilgrim Way, from Thrift Cottage, home of Clan McGonk. We don't yet have a proper map of the road or pathway, nor do we even know if it is still in use - it is our quest to find out and to uncover the secrets of this ancient way that could have been walked, horse-driven or ridden over 1,000 years ago. We 'think' it's about 50 miles round trip, so needs splitting into manageable sections to allow plenty of time for exploring everything there is to see en route. There are also herds of cows to be avoided, as part of the track cuts over farmland that we already know is home to the big scary, hairy beasts, the Black Galloways.
Along the way, (pardon the pun) we will be seeking to help discover a means of saving the associated visitor centre and museum, which is located near the old Whithorn Priory. It apparently costs about £100,000 each year to run the centre (it now also has a cafe) and keep it open for business while holding on to the treasures contained within. The ruined nave of the Medieval Cathedral and crypts are now in the care of Historic Scotland, as is the museum, which is reported to house the finest collection of early Christian stones in Scotland. McGonks haven't yet travelled this far along the route but they have found an easy access point onto it and are planning to follow the road and visit all the sites that they can.
This is one of the Beag McGonks, a dandy little fellow who was part of the support group that ventured to the summit of Ben Nevis last weekend (a total of 4 McGonks succeeded in reaching the top - Bhreac + 3 supporting Beag McGonks). He has been out on the beach today, where he found himself a beautiful 'wizard stick' and a feather for his cap. He then went out to show off his new outfit and admire himself in the garden mirrors. He's fairly well travelled and should make an excellent scout for this challenge; if you look closely at the Torhouse Stone Circle photograph, you can just make him out when he and the grey Beag were hiding at the bottom of the huge boulders. He has been nicknamed Doodle Beag.
So, McGonk fans, let's set to work and try to help save the Whithorn Trust for a while longer and, in so doing, discover the Pilgrim Way so we can trek, ride or cycle the length of the Machars. It's another big adventure!
Check out www.mcgonks.com for links to donate or even just to sign the petition to help save the Whithorn Trust. We hope you will enjoy the summer adventures and our quest to uncover the original Pilgrim Way.