New pilgrimage walk launched in honour of Glasgow's patron saint

An adventurous couple in their 80s have embarked on a new 150-mile pilgrimage walk in honour of the founder and patron saint of Glasgow.

Bill and Christine Jack have mapped out an off-road route that St Kentigern, also known as St Mungo, would have likely travelled between Dumfries and Galloway and the city in the 6th century.

They set off on the inaugural journey from Annan, close to the missionary's seat at Hoddom, last Friday and hope to complete the route by the 19th of October.

Bill and Christine Jack
Dr Bill Jack and his wife Christine outside Bothwell Parish Church.

The final destination of the Kentigern Way is Glasgow Cathedral where the missionary's burial crypt is located and a special dedication service will be led by Rev Mark Johnston.

It took the couple of Bothwell in South Lanarkshire, who are 82 and 81 respectively and have seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren, about four years to create the route which has been plotted with marker posts, adorned with the Kentigern Way logo which is a salmon.

Dr Jack, a retired process automation engineer, said he and his wife, who was an accountant, are keen long-distance walkers and would be meeting up with members of churches located the route.

Glasgow Cathedral
St Kentigern's crypt is located within Glasgow Cathedral. HES

Pilgrimage has a history which dates back many hundreds of years and the Kentigern Way links a number of existing long-distance walking routes including the Southern Upland Way and Clyde Walkway.

Walkers will pass by the towns of Moffat, Peebles, Biggar, Lanark and Bothwell to reach Glasgow and can undertake the route in a single expedition or in separate outings because it is divided up into 12 sections.

Dr Jack said: "The idea for the walk originated about four years ago from a chance remark by Rev Jim Gibson who was our minister at Bothwell Parish Church at the time.

"He had returned from a holiday with parishioners, walking part of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain and he suggested it would be possible to create a pilgrim route along the Clyde Valley to Glasgow Cathedral.

"This fired our imagination and we started researching the life of Kentigern/Mungo and established the connection with Hoddom.

"For many people, the daily rhythm of long-distance walking provides an opportunity for them to take time out from cluttered lives and make space for reflection and spiritual refreshment."

Kentigern Way
The Kentigern Way route

Kentigern lived in the second half of the 6th century about 150 years after the departure of the Romans and was contemporary with St Columba.

Much of his life story is based upon a collection of myths and miracles, commemorated in the Glasgow coat of arms - the bird, the bell, the tree and the ring.

The son of Princess Teneu (Enoch), daughter of LLanddeu king of the powerful Gododdin tribe in Lothian, he was raised in the care of monks of St Serf at Culross who named him ‘Mun Go' which means "dear boy".

As a young adult he embarked on his own evangelising path, heading west to establish a monastic cell on the banks of the Molendinar Burn where Glasgow Cathedral, a place of worship for 800 years, is now sited.

Mungo was a charismatic figure, influential and energetic and rose to a position of prominence, acquiring the title ‘Kentigern' meaning ‘chief lord'.

But his forceful evangelism no doubt ruffled a few feathers and he abandoned his Glasgow base and travelled south to seek refuge at the court of King Urien Rheged.

Spiritual refreshment

Kentigern was gifted a piece of land at Hoddom and established an episcopal seat which is said to have rivalled Lindisfarne in importance.

It is assumed that he travelled widely throughout Clydesdale, upper Tweeddale and Annandale on his missionary activities and would have journeyed periodically between Glasgow and Hoddom.

Dr Jack said the pilgrimage route, which is well served with accommodation and food outlet options at the end of each section, is practical, predominantly off-road and reasonably authentic.

"The Kentigern Way traverses a wide variety of landscapes, encompasses superb scenery and leads the traveller past a great many places of interest spanning several millennia of Scottish history," he added.

Dr Jack said the Kentigern Way Steering Group is affiliated to the Scottish Pilgrim Ways Forum which develops and promotes Christian pilgrimage routes throughout the country.

Inspiration

Kentigern Way will be Scotland's seventh official pilgrimage route.

Bothwell Parish Church minister, Rev Iain Majcher, said: "The pilgrimage route is a fascinating adventure and one that I have recently had the privilege of being involved in.

"It is a labour of love for Bill and Christine and it has taken a lot of work to try and piece together the route and to get all the relevant permissions.

"They created the route together with the help of a few others in the hope that it will inspire others as they walk it."

The couple, who have three sons, try to walk around four miles each day and Mrs Jack has a target to cover 2,000 miles over the course of a year.

They have completed many arduous long-distance walks across the world including the Himalayas, Patagonia, the Alps and Scotland.

Dr Jack pioneered the challenging Five Degrees West long-distance route from Mull of Galloway, the nation's most southerly point, to Cape Wrath which is most north-westerly point in mainland Britain. Donate to Bothwell Parish Church