September 16 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Pilgrim, 83, in 60-mile charity trek

By Amanda Connelly

CALUM MacFarlane-Barrow might be 83, but he is refusing to slow down.

The keen hillwalker is combining his love of pilgrimage and the outdoors with a trek along one of Scotland’s most scenic routes.

He is due to set off tomorrow on a 60-mile journey from Dalmally, Argyll, to the Isle of Iona, via the village of Taynuilt and Oban.

Mr MacFarlane-Barrow is aiming to raise money for charity and boost the profile of the route.

He is also looking at the trip as a pilgrimage, part of the Holy Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis this year.

His journey will begin at Craig Lodge, which he owns with his wife, Mary Anne. It has been a retreat centre for the past 26 years, opening its doors daily to those looking for an escape from daily life.

Mr MacFarlane-Barrow said: “Craig Lodge wasn’t always a prayer house. When Mary Anne and I bought it in 1977 we ran it as a guest house.

“It was only after the family went on pilgrimage to Medjugorje [in Bosnia and Herzegovina] that we felt called by God to do something different.

“That led to turning it into a retreat and to inviting young people to form a community.” The role of pilgrimage has always been prominent in Craig Lodge life and they have always included visits to Iona.

Mr MacFarlane-Barrow aims to popularise a walking trail from the retreat to the isle, dubbed the St Conan’s Pilgrim Way, which could form part of the project to establish the Caledonian Camino, a pilgrimage route from Iona to St Andrews.

“Making a pilgrimage is bit like making a walking retreat,” he said.

“It’s a great way of clearing the cobwebs away and giving yourself time to think and pray while walking through our beautiful landscapes. I recommend it.”

Pope Francis suggested pilgrimage and doing works of mercy as ways to engage with the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Mr MacFarlane-Barrow will carry this out by praying for those who have supported him as he walks. People can also send him prayer intentions. He will also ask for the intercession of St Columba, who founded his monastery at Iona.

He said: “Calum is Gaelic for Columba, so he has always been one of my favourite saints.

“I am delighted to take up the challenge of a pilgrimage to the island he made famous.”



—This story ran in full in the September 16 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.


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