Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Sunday, 28 December 2008

Call for 'Pilgrim Way' footpath

The Manachain monastery on Iona, founded by Columba in 563
The MSP said the path could run from Iona, where Columba landed in 563 AD

A campaign to link the island of Iona and St Andrews in Fife via a new public footpath has been launched.

The SNP's Roseanna Cunningham said the so-called Pilgrim Way, following the path of St Columba's monks, would attract religious and walking tourists.

The Perth MSP said it would also offer an opportunity to support business and promote Scotland's countryside.

She is seeking support from ministers and councils to have the route ready during the Year of Homecoming in 2009.

Symbolic centre

Ms Cunningham said: "St Andrews was a massive medieval pilgrimage centre and everyone in Scotland knows the iconic significance of Iona.

"I think it would be an excellent idea to link the two locations with a new addition to Scotland's public footpaths.

"Going from historically significant islands of Iona and Mull through Highland Stirlingshire and into Perthshire following the routes St Columba's monks would have followed as they fanned out across Scotland through some of our best countryside would be a huge attraction for visitors."

Ms Cunningham said locations which could be included are Iona, Dunning in Perthshire - where the pictish Dupplin Cross is kept - and St Andrews.

Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, is the symbolic centre of Scottish Christianity.

Its fame began in 563 AD when Columba left Ireland and landed at the south end of the island, along with 13 followers, to establish a monastery.

Manachain monastery became a centre of pilgrimage, although almost nothing remains of the original enclosure.

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