St Ninian Journey

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  • Looking over a field of buttercups down to numerous boats moored at the harbour at the Isle of Whithorn.
    Isle of Whithorn
  • Looking up the pend to the priory at Whithorn in Dumfries & Galloway.
    Whithorn Priory

The St Ninian Journey: To the Source will take you to the birthplace of Christian Scotland. Follow this fascinating route to Whithorn in Galloway, believed to be the cradle of Scottish Christianity, and discover a place which was once a flourishing centre of royal pilgrimage. On your way, here travel through the Scottish Borders, Glasgow and Ayrshire, taking in some of the country’s greatest castles and abbeys.

Begin your journey by heading south from Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel which marks a fusion of the European Christianity imported from Rome and the eastern Mediterranean and Celtic culture. Visit other ancient churches and chapels as you head further south into the Tweed and Clyde valleys, and stop by the spot where Merlin, the wizard of Arthurian legend, is said to be buried.

As the route crosses the River Cree and leads into the Machars, you’ll begin to notice more and more historic churches and pilgrim bridges, the remnants of former pilgrim routes to Wigtown, a major site of martyrdom in Covenanting times and now Scotland’s National Book Town. Continue onwards to Whithorn where you can visit Whithorn Priory, founded by Saint Ninian around 397 AD and the oldest Christian church in Scotland. About 3 miles south west of Whithorn, you’ll find the mysterious St Ninian’s Cave.

There are other routes you can follow from Edinburgh which explore other periods in Scotland’s religious history as well as Saint Ninian’s enduring legacy. See the magnificent palaces of the Stewart kings and queens and the medieval Glasgow Cathedral founded by Saint Mungo alongside the city’s many other fine ecclesiastical buildings. 

You can also reach Whithorn via Ayrshire, the birthplace of Robert Burns and home to the impressive remains of Crossraguel Abbey, a Cluniac monastery. Explore the Rhinns of Galloway, a peninsula which is home to a plethora of Christian sites, carved stones and medieval chapels, including Glenluce Abbey.

You can find information and maps of the full route below.

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