11 November 2019
This nine-mile walk from Mochrum to Whithorn is part of The Whithorn Way and takes in Mochrum Motte, Mochrum Kirk and Whithorn Cathedral.
Walking the Whithorn Way
The Whithorn Way is a newly-mapped 143-mile walking and cycling route, travelling much of the westerly pilgrimage route to Whithorn, trodden by pilgrims for over a millennium.
At its peak in the early 16th century, the shrine attracted pilgrims from Scotland, England and beyond, who traced a network of sea and land routes to Whithorn. St Ninian became the favoured saint of the Royal House of Stuart, which further stimulated national devotion.
Mochrum and area are full of historic interest : the pretty 18th Century Church contains a laird’s loft, where once the Maxwell family attended church. Gavin Maxwell became the author of Ring of Bright Water.
Just north of the village is a pudding-shaped motte, mediaeval defensive earthworks which would have been surmounted by a wooden castle, dating from the 1100s. As you leave Mochrum for Whithorn, you glimpse the White Loch of Mochrum, reputed in local folklore to have healing and other magical powers.
The Monreith estate which surrounds the loch is a treasure house of archaeological remains – from the Iron Age to mediaeval Myrton Castle ( where James IV stayed on his way to Whithorn) and Victorian mansion.
Arrival in Whithorn
It is now a short distance to Whithorn and farm names such as Bishopton give away the town’s ecclesiastical importance. Starting with the narrow approach of St John Street, the town widens to the ceremonial entrance to the Priory at the Pend, where pilgrims would have gathered.
Beyond the Pend likes the sacred precinct of the monastery, which surrounded the church and shrine of St Ninian, which, by 1500, was the most frequented in Scotland, regularly visited by the kings and queens of Scotland, as well as by multitudes of pilgrims.
This section is relatively flat on minor tarmac roads, leading from Mochrum to the Royal Burgh of Whithorn. Refreshments can be obtained in Whithorn at the Whithorn Trust, where there is a café, exhibition and access to the Priory and crypts and at the Central Café. There is a regular bus service to the north and less frequent service to Stranraer.
Detailed walking instructions can be purchased from The Whithorn Way website.
(Video, text, logo and map copyright The Whithorn Trust)