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Call for improvements on Dalmally to Iona pilgrim walk

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A Christian charity which has devised a pilgrimage route from Dalmally in Argyll to the holy island of Iona has called for infrastructure improvements on part of the walk.

The St Conan’s Pilgrim Way has been created by the Craig Lodge Trust, which runs a Catholic retreat at Dalmally.

They have tried to follow in the footsteps of pilgrims as far back as the sixth century.

However when the first party of 20 pilgrims took on the 60-mile walk earlier this summer, they encountered problems on the isle of Mull.

Calum MacFarlane Barrow of Craig Lodge Trust said: “The challenge came when we arrived on Mull, the majority of walkers preferred the coastal route and were disappointed – to put it mildly – when they could not complete the Lochbuie to Carsaig walk.

“The rope at the halfway point was too dangerous to use, it was not long enough and the safety stewards deemed the route unsafe so the group had to turn back, await the support vehicle and forgo the stunning views of that very special coastal walk to Carsaig.

“Walking along the A849, the main road from Craignure to Fionnphort, also has its dangers; it proved extremely demanding for the stewards as they chaperoned the party of walkers on the very busy single-track road. “Passing places proved hazardous because there was nowhere for the walkers to go if it was occupied by a car.”

He asked Argyll and Bute Council if they had any plans to develop a coastal route on Mull and added: “The spectacular coastal route should be developed using imagination and ambition to provide a safe way for walkers and a cycle/walkers path adjacent to the A849 should be constructed without delay.”

A council spokesman said: “We would be supportive of any initiative which has landowner support. We are happy to work with the local community and landowners to support applications for funding to undertake path improvements, as we have done elsewhere.

“We supported an application by the Mull and Iona Community Trust to improve the path to the lighthouse north of Tobermory. The path between Aird Ghlas and Carsaig Arches on Mull is designated as a core path  however, there is no obligation on the council or the landowner to maintain or improve the route.”

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