Pilgrim Routes In Scotland

Iona – the cradle of Christianity in Scotland

Iona is a tiny island off the coast of Mull in the Inner Hebrides and is known as ‘The Cradle of Christianity’ in Scotland. This is where St Columba founded a monastery and spread the faith to local communities. Just 1.5 miles wide by 3 miles long, it has a population of 120 residents. Iona has a special place in the hearts of people the world over, many of whom repeatedly visit the island. In fact, some 130,000 visitors come here annually. Iona is recognised for having such a special atmosphere – a place of peace and restoration.

St Columba

Columba was a prince from an Irish noble family, who became a priest and a missionary monk. He founded monastic houses in Ireland before his forced exile. In 563, he and twelve companions arrived by coracle on Iona, at the time occupied by fellow Scots from Ireland.

For the next 34 years, they pursued an active missionary outreach throughout the Western Isles and into northeastern Scotland. Elements of the original settlement can still be seen today. The missionary method of the day was tolive among their pagan neighbours and attract them to the Gospel by sharing their faith and way of life.

Columba died in 597 but his successors remained on Iona continuing the work he started, eventually reaching the north of England and continental Europe. Although the Roman style of the faith became dominant in Britain, the Celtic Christian way continued on Iona. Columba’s remains were removed to Dunkeld in the C9th, and the centre of Scottish Christianity shifted to St. Andrews.

Iona Community

The Iona Community is a dispersed Christian ecumenical community working for peace and social justice, rebuilding of community and the renewal of worship. Its members come from different walks of life and different traditions. The Iona Community is a radical movement and organisation, committed to living out the Christian faith in the areas of justice and peace. 

Scotland’s 14 Pilgrim Ways

There are many long-distance paths in all regions of Scotland from the Borders to the Northern Isles. Scottish Pilgrim Routes Forum has been working for a decade to reinstate and waymark these lost paths. Already established are St Magnus, Whithorn, Borders Abbeys, St Cuthbert’s, plus the Fife Pilgrim and Forth 2 Farne are more recently ready to welcome walkers.

  • St Cuthbert’s Way – Melrose to Lindisfarne
  • St Magnus Way – Orkney
  • St Oswald’s Way – Northumberland 
  • Fife Pilgrim Way – Culross to St Andrews
  • Whithorn Way – Glasgow to Whithorn
  • Forth to Farne Way – North Berwick to Lindisfarne
  • St Munn’s Way – Cowal Peninsula Argyll
  • St Kentigern Way (aka St Mungo) – Solway Firth to Glasgow
  • Northern Pilgrims Way – Tain to Kirkwall
  • Three Saints Way – Killin to Saint Andrews
  • Deeside Way – Aberdeen to Ballater
  • Dalriada Way – Tarbert to Luing
  • Iona to Killin – to eventually connect Iona to St Andrews
  • St Conan’s Way – Dalmally to Iona

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