Give peace a chance: Pilgrimage from Iona to Faslane to London via the Crinan Canal

P&J Canal 11

There is so much that is intriguing, valuable and admirable about the quiet pilgrimage wending its way just now through Argyll to Faslane and on to London.

Described as ‘an ecumenical inter-faith act of witness for peace and economic justice’ people join, drop off and return to this little band of pilgrims in stages, although two we met on the Crinan Canal at Oakfield Bridge yesterday morning, Margery and Bob, are there for all of the long haul.

The core purpose of their witness is to focus the attention of the nation on the fact that the UK Government fully intends to replace the controversial submarine-launched Trident nuclear weapons system; and to do so at a cost of up to £100 billion.

Alongside this expense on a weapon that can only be used if we decide to take the world out with us, the same government is:

  • cutting people’s benefits if they have a spare room – even if one is an elderly recent widow or widower, where their deceased spouse required a separate room for care requirements;
  • cutting disability benefit and directly causing suicides of some highly disabled people who nevertheless have been classified by ATOS as fit to return to work and have lost their disability allowance, leaving them – genuinely unable to work – with no support at all;
  • cutting budgets for health services – the ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’ being an obscene instrument in this cause;
  • cutting budgets for education with an increasingly ill-educated population, devoid of the fundamental skills of literacy and numeracy.

The model for a pilgrimage by a small band of people continually replaced in relay was the Olympic Torch relay round Britain – a fitting beacon of hope and determination to succeed.

Peace Pilgrimage

The Iona to Faslane legs have the relay walkers doing stages of 10-15 miles at a time – and the companionship of a yacht, the Tanera Mor.

The walkers dualled as lock operators on the two day stage through the Crinan Canal, stopping at Lochhead on the first night; and going on to the eastern basin at Ardrishaig and on to Tarbert in Kintyre last night. This morning the walkers took the ferry over to Portavadie and over to Glendaruel – and Tanera Mor headed off into the Kyles of Bute.

Friday they head to Hunter’s Quay; Saturday over to Gourock then back across the Clyde to Kilcreggan and on to Faslane. And Sunday is an all day picnic at the gates to the Faslane Submarine base. Everyone interested is welcome.

Peace Pilgrimage

The first thing that struck us when we met the team coming through Argyll, was the white heads and their generation. That was inspirational stuff. It just said ‘Fidelity’ – not wavering off course over time on a cause that matters to them; not afraid of challenge, effort and discomfort.

At Lochgilphead

Interestingly, as they walked the canal, talking to and leafleting everyone they met, they’ve found that young kids are really fascinated by them – and very admiring. It’s not hard to see why. We saw evidence of this very direct inter-generational engagement for ourselves. It was hard wired.

Judith and Jill have recently been to the International Conference Against  Nuclear [ICAN] in Oslo, with Veronika Tudhope, Vice Chair of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, who is travelliing with the team, overseeing the Scottish end of the pilgrimage. Veronika says that they were the oldest group there and brought something special to the gathering in experience, gravitas and example.

While none of those we met are formally quakers – Kath McDonald described herself as ‘a faithless quaker’ – five of the small group said that they’d  been markedly influenced in their pacifist stance by quakerism.

Three of them are retired GPs – Judith, Richard and Cath. Jill started on this road by protesting at Hunter’s Quay about the Polaris submarine base at the Holy Loch at the end of the 1950s. Margery has lived for some time in the Rhineland after marrying a German in the 1970s. At that time,  even though it was over 25 years after the end of the second world war, Germans were still Britain’s comic baddies. She says it was surprisingly tough – and for her parents whose generation made it particularly hard for them – although they always welcomed her husband and became very close to him.

Yesterday morning, while Richard, Cath and Bob moved the Tanera Mor to a convenient pontoon, the little band of walkers came through Lochgilphead to the canal at Oakfield Bridge, flying their jaunty Peace flags, being greeted by toots on the horns of the commuter traffic and waving happily in return.

P&J Canal 4

The bright tatterdemalion quality of the flags, the back packs and the white Peace Pilgrimage T-shirts is appropriately gentle, non-aggressive and joyful. it brought a sense of carnival as they tramped up the slip road together from the roundabout to the canal.

Their other take on Trident and the need for them and the rest of us to do what we can do, is about making young people aware of its obscenely expensive uselessness – so that when they pass on the baton, there will be less then there might have been for the next generation to shoulder.

They have loved getting to grips with the lock gates and walking along the canal. Some of them live in cities. The tranquil green of the trees along the tow path and the water is giving them something back on their journey. And they’ve found it a natural place for people to talk to them – no one’s in a hurry.

P&J Canal 12

We last saw them talking away together as they walked off on along towpath towards Ardrishaig, flags fluttering in the breeze behind them, the yacht motoring alongside with its banner and flag.

Contact with people like this, who accept responsibility, who don’t give up, who exude peacefulness – who talk of ‘a vision of a fairer, more generous future for all, based on cooperation and mutual support, rather than merely the survival of the fittest or richest’ – makes you feel better – and guilty for leaving it all to them.

Anyone can join in and walk for as much or as little as they like. This is a sort of relay of conscience, taking it up and passing it on. Details of the itinerary and dates are on the UK Peace and Justice Pilgrimage website here.

Note: With thanks to Veronika Tudhope for the photographs of the group on the Tanera Mor and crossing the canal bridge at Bellanoch.

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9 Responses to Give peace a chance: Pilgrimage from Iona to Faslane to London via the Crinan Canal

  1. What a nice wee token gesture! Is it not just a shame that is all it is? The cost of trident would not be able to be used for other resources that a simple Fact of the IMF central banking slavery system we have been given.
    Our government is working with others (bilderbergs) to create a central one world government and tax system, hence all the fuss about Google and other international corporations, but we don’t get to see the truth because we are blinded by greed and communist social engineering. So we just bitch about the tax these companies don’t pay
    Trident is a loss making asset for our government: that is they can gain lots of money for an item that is basically worthless and guess what Tax payers pay for it, all of our children and grand children will be enslaved by this debt (what a wonderful way these people have turned us all into willing slaves without chains)
    The government has turned us all into consumers little piggy banks for the private central bankers, employees of the state (yet we pay to be employed by them) learn about the central banking system then invoke your article 61 rights “lawful rebellion”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

    • Much more that a ‘nice wee token gesture’ Keith.
      Standing up for truth and justice is never a waste
      of time – think of ‘little acorns’….Gandi and many other examples.
      I can understand cynicism and despair in our present world but the
      fight must go on even in small ways.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      • Morven: I am neither cynical or in any form of despair and I will totally agree “the fight must go on even in small ways” But to me this is nothing more than a token it will change nothing but if it is reported, Then perhaps some people will wake up and ask questions.
        Guess I am just further down the rabbit hole LOL

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

        • Thanks Keith, I wasn’t making a personal comment about you – probably more about myself at times, when hearing World News. But as you say it’s been reported, so that’s a positive and may make some people think!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

    • Looks a lovely gesture but what do you mean about ‘obscene Liverpool Care Pathway’?

      I do hope you meant that it was the government that was obscene if the y get rid of it and not that the pathway itself is obecene. Of course it is a tool developed to make sure everyone has the right to a good quality of pain management and has been a great boon to nurses for years. Thank you for all you are doing. Barbara Adshead

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

      • We were certainly referring to the LIverpool Care Pathway itself.
        It is an abuse of the use of the word ‘care’; and is far less about ‘care’ and ‘pain management’ than it is about reducing the numbers of the elderly in need of what passes for care.
        It is no more than a licensed starving and dehydrating to death of the elderly – and without knowledge or permission of the elderly person or, often, of their famillies.
        When you say that this ‘.. has been a great boon to nurses for years’ – the blood chills.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    • Simon : Coming on great mate here is my top three
      Syria the government is killing its own people at an increased rate plus the government is using chemical weapons against the British tax payer funded freedom fighters
      Iran Continues to create weapons of mass destruction, they will soon have a bomb and then all white people will die in the name of Jihad
      North Korea Kim jung ill (nephew of kim-jung-fats salmond) has now created a nuclear rocket that can reach the moon, he might decide to start WW3 at any moment

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  2. Plus, as medics,, you should mention all those sailors who’ve been forced to serve on these vessels despite the effects on their health that the MOD won’t admit in public….you should mention that too!
    (And aside from care at the very end in cancer, I agree with the comments about the liverpool care pathway in nhs england above, its a total abomination – in the south of england, they are definitely using it to empty out the nursing homes of non terminally ill patients who moved in whilst fairly independent, the instant they start to need a care assistant to get out of bed in the mornings). They are using the same ‘triage’ system a certain chap used in Hadamar…he spent the money he saved on weaponry too….

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