Nov 18 2011 by Stuart Wilson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
PRIME-TIME TV turns the camera on Ayrshire this week when BBC Scotland's Landward looks at the revival of an ancient pilgrim trail.
As presenter Dougie Vipond takes a walk in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims bound for Whithorn, local historian James Brown explains how spiritual tourism is seeing a huge resurgence today.
And Kathryn Baldwin, a historic re-enactor well known for her education work in schools, demonstrates how more affluent pilgrims might have done the journey on horseback.
The programme, broadcast on Friday night, takes in Crossraguel Abbey, near Maybole, and also features the work of ceramic artists Keith and Beryl Dawdry at Peinn Mor Pottery, Pinmore.
Historian Mr Brown is working alongside rural regeneration agency Ailsa Horizons to develop the Ayrshire Pilgrims' Trail as a community initiative which is funded through local wind-farm benefit funds from Hadyard Hill and the Ayrshire LEADER programme.
He said: “People use the term 'spiritual tourism' as if it is something new. But actually, pilgrimage was the original form of tourism.
“It helped to bring prosperity to places like St Andrews.
“Today all over Europe there is a massive upsurge in pilgrimage – and not just among folk with a faith background.
“It's happening in Scotland too, with several pilgrim routes being re-established right now.
“They all have the potential to boost the economies of the communities along their way.”
The Ayrshire Pilgrims' Trail makes up a large part of the traditional route from Glasgow to the cradle of Christianity in Scotland: Whithorn Priory and nearby St Ninian's Cave and Chapel.
It will make use of Core Path Networks and especially the Ayrshire Coastal Path, rated as one of Europe's great long-distance routes.
And it includes important sites like Kilwinning Abbey and Crossraguel Abbey where pilgrims through the ages have gathered, rested and worshipped.
As part of the research and preparation for the trail, James has been meeting community organisations, businesses and church groups who could offer hospitality or just a warm welcome to the 21st-century pilgrims.
James added: “The level of enthusiasm I've met has been amazing.
“People are genuinely keen to make this journey one that benefits both our visitors and the communities they encounter.”
Landward airs on BBC2 at 7pm this Friday and is repeated at 11am Wednesday, November 23. It will also be available on BBC iPlayer.
To contact James about the trail, phone 01292 610790.