Throughout Europe there is a network of pilgrim routes which lead to one of the three most important places of Christian pilgrimage in the world – the Cathedral of St James in Santiago de Compostela, North West Spain. The St Michael’s Way Trail is one of these routes.
St. Michael’s Way was thought to have been used by pilgrims, missionaries and travellers, especially those from Ireland and Wales, to avoid crossing the treacherous waters around Land’s End.
Dating back to pre-historic times (10,000BC – 410AD), it is believed that this route assisted in Cornwall’s rapid conversion into a Christian faith.
The trail stretches from Lelant (near St. Ives) to Marazion (near Penzance) and stretches 12.5 miles/19.5 km. Visitors can expect to see a number of sights including the ‘Caribbean’ style waters around St. Ives, the largest sand dunes in Cornwall at Gwithian and far-reaching views of West Penwith at Trencrom Hill.
In 1987 the Council of Europe decided to promote the Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim Way as a highly symbolic and significant European cultural route. St Michael’s Way has been developed by Environment and Heritage with the guidance of the Bredereth Sen Jago (Cornish Pilgrims of St James) and the Cornish Bureau for European Relations.
Pilgrim ways are often indicated by the traditional Pilgrim’s symbol of a scallop shell. St. Michael’s Way has been signposted and waymarked in both directions using a stylistic shell based on the Council of Europe’s sign for pilgrim routes.