The St Andrew Journey

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  • Iona Abbey, founded by St Columba in 563 AD, with views across to the Isle of Mull
    Iona Abbey, founded by St Columba in 563 AD
  • Oban
    Oban
  • Looking across West Sands beach and dunes towards St Andrews
    West Sands beach and dunes in St Andrews

The St Andrew Journey: A Pilgrim Nation gives you the chance to trace the birth of Christianity in Scotland on a trail that brings together the country’s major pilgrim shrines. Make your way from the Hebridean island of Iona, one of the most sacred sites in Scotland, and on through Argyll, Highland Perthshire and Fife before arriving at the coastal town of St Andrews, home of the ancient University of St Andrews and the ruins of what was once the country’s largest cathedral.

The Irish abbot and missionary Saint Columba is believed to be the father of Christian Scotland. Exiled from Ireland, Columba sailed to Iona founding the Benedictine Abbey in 563 AD which has now been restored. See the ancient burial ground of Scotland’s kings at St Oran’s Chapel and soak up the tranquil beauty which must have made a life of religious devotion and contemplation so appealing to the monks and nuns who resided on the island.

Catch the ferry to Oban, passing the islands of Lismore and Kerrera along the way, and take in the charming seaside town’s two cathedrals and attractive churches. Heading into Argyll, you’ll travel through the same landscape where the Desert Fathers, known as Christian hermits, sought refuge.

Follow in the footsteps of Saint Fillan as you move eastwards from Tyndrum, pausing to visit places where he left sacred relics and religious settlements. Follow the route into the heart of Perthshire and visit the places where Saint Adomnan, the biographer of Saint Columba, is said to have left his mark. At Craigiainie you can see where he performed a miracle and, beside the Fortingall Yew, the site where he may have founded a monastery. 

Continue onwards to Scone Palace where Scottish kings were crowned upon the Stone of Destiny, reputed to be Jacob’s Pillow – the stone used as a pillow by the Israelite patriarch of the Old Testament – which was transported all the way from Palestine. Afterwards, see inside the magnificent interior of Dunkeld Cathedral.

Your final stop is St Andrews, an important place of pilgrimage for kings, queens and saints throughout the Middle Ages. Stop by the Abernethy Round Tower and the monastic ruins at Balmerino before arriving at this place which remains an important site for today’s pilgrims. Take in the crumbling majesty of St Andrews Cathedral alongside fascinating relics like the St Andrews Sarcophagus, before ending your journey at St Mary’s Chapel by the sea.

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

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