Season of Pilgrimage

2021 was originally designated the Year of Pilgrimage by the General Synod of 2020.  The pandemic forced a rethink and this has now transformed into a Season of Pilgrimage, which we hope will lead to a renewed and ongoing engagement with pilgrimage generally.

Remember, not all pilgrimage involves taking long, difficult physical journeys. We encourage those organising pilgrimages to think about ways to make them inclusive, and would love to hear about plans for pilgrimages that work for different people – for older people, for younger children, for busy workers, for people who can’t walk far or at all… 

Thinking about pilgrimage – events, discussions, meditations, inspirations, reflections on life’s spiritual pilgrimage, or the relationship between the pilgrimage of Christian tradition and today’s trend towards mindful walking and slow, sustainable travel – is also very much encouraged.  We want everyone in the diocese to have a pilgrimage experience of some kind in this Season of Pilgrimage!

Events planned for the year will be displayed here and further details can be obtained from Rev Willie Shaw

Jump straight to further details

COP26: This international conference in Glasgow in November 2021 is our major opportunity as a world to work together to heal our planet and work together for the future of our world. A group of pilgrims are walking from Dunbar to Glasgow (17-31 October) to raise awareness, to share stories and to pray for the work of COP26 and for the climate chaos in which we now exist. Many churches in the diocese are involved. Please see here for further details of events and to join them.

Diocesan Pilgrimage Conference – Saturday 26 February 2022 – a series of talks online during the week beginning 21 February, culminating with an in person conference at Holy Trinity, Haddington, covering the historical, scriptural and spiritual sides of pilgrimage. More details to follow

The Big Walk: 28 Mary 2022 – walking, cycling, driving, bus-ing from all the corners of the diocese with banners created for the event – to St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, where we will pray and celebrate together. Can you help – ideas here? There is a Banner Making Day at the Walpole Hall, St Mary’s Cathedral on Saturday 18 September, 9.30-1pm. Please register here.

Longer Pilgrimages:

Day Pilgrimages:

  • Feast of St Margaret – Saturday 13 November 2021 (transferred from 16 November)
  • Wells of Edinburgh – Holy and Otherwise – June 2022
  • If you or your church has ideas for pilgrimages that others may wish to join, please let us know.

Local Pilgrimage Events: Please let us know what you’re planning in your own church and we can advertise and share resources

  • St Mary’s, Grangemouth and St Catharine’s Bo’ness – local pilgrimages
  • St Mark’s, Portobello – services of pilgrimage and monthly pilgrimages in the autumn

Other events/ Resources


Further Details

The Big Walk: We are looking for people to walk or lead a route, churches who can offer hospitality on the way (a cup of tea and a toilet!), and to enable people of all abilities to join in as far as they can. 

Banner Making Day for the Big Walk: Saturday 18 September 2021 9.30-1pm We want to bring everyone interested in Banner Making across the Diocese together, to share ideas and cooperate together to make Banners for the Season of Pilgrimage (especially for the Big Walk), for the Cathedral, or for their own church. Anyone is invited whether they have made banners before or not – you only need an interest, not expertise! Please register interest and get more information here).

Pilgrimage to COP26 – Dunbar to Glasgow 17-31 October 2021

  • A pilgrimage from Dunbar to Glasgow to reflect on the climate and ecological crisis in anticipation of COP26.
  • The pilgrimage includes a public engagement programme to accompany the walkers and encourage participation en route.
  • Participating organisations include Deep Time Walk Project, Interfaith Edinburgh, Glasgow and Scotland, John Muir’s Birthplace, North Light Arts, Scottish Dance Theatre, and more.
  • Details are in the process of being finalised, but if you would like to walk part or all of this route or provide hospitality on the way, then please get in touch.  Further details will be on our website and also at artandecology.earth/pilgrimage-for-cop26/. 
  • Current itinerary: Leaving Dunbar on 17th/18th October, spending a few days in Edinburgh, before leaving there on 25th to go South Queensferry, to Bo’ness on 26th, to Falkirk via Kinneil Lagoons, Grangemouth Refinery, and the Kelpies on 27th and spending a day there, before continuing to Glasgow arriving on 31st.
  • A prayer walk around Grangemouth Refinery has also been developed which could be used by individuals or groups to focus prayer around the Climate Crisis (e-mail Willie at the above address for details) at any time.

St Cuthbert’s Way: Melrose to Lindisfarne, Holy Island (6 nights/7 days, 61.5 miles/99.5 km March 2022 – organised by Shepherds Walks Holidays)

  • A supported walk with accommodation in B&Bs/local inns with luggage transported each day.  £619.00 without packed lunches, £689.00 with packed lunches, single supplement – £240.00.  Minimum booking: 6 people  
  • Commitment needed by the end of October for a walk in March 2022.  Please e-mail: stmarysandstcatharines@virginmedia.com if interested as soon as possible, spaces are limited.  If costs are putting you off but you’d still like to come, please get in touch.

Camino de Santiago, Spain – May 2022

  • Organised by Rev Nick Bowry, who has walked the way several times before.
  • Departing on or around 16th May, depending on what days of the week there will be flights to Santiago from Stansted. There will be a 90 minute coach journey from Santiago to Ferrol completed on the day we arrive at Santiago airport. 
  • The walk will be from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela (c. 117km, 73 miles) over 6 days. With one night in Santiago at the end, the minimum duration of the trip will be 8 days, but people can stay on longer in Santiago if they wish to soak up the wonderful atmosphere there and not be too rushed getting their certificate – there can be long queues.  Accommodation will be in hostels with mixed dorms (c.15 euros a night)  as well as low cost hotels (c. 25- 35 Euros a night) en-route. In Santiago there are no cheap hotels – look at 50 Euros a night minimum. Allow 20 Euros for food and drink a day. The intention is to walk with your rucksack. If people wish to they may be able to use a forwarding service on some days (approx 5 euros a day).
  • A briefing session in October 2021 will be held with firm commitments to be made by the end of November 2021, so advance hotel bookings can be made.  
  • Please pass your interest on to: rector.pandwl@gmail.com

Fife Pilgrim Way – September 2022

  • It is hoped that we will walk the Fife Pilgrim Way using local accommodation on the way (church floors, individual homes).  This should enable people to travel more cheaply on the route rather than paying for costly accommodation.  E-mail stmarysandstcatharines@virginmedia.com to register interest.

Feast of St Margaret – Saturday 13 November 2021 (transferred from 16 November) – From North Queensferry station to Dunfermline Abbey, passing St Margaret’s Hope, St Margaret’s Stone, St Margaret’s Cave (unfortunately closed to visitors at the moment), and ending with an act of worship at Dunfermline Abbey.  It would then be a short walk to the railway station in Dunfermline to get home.

Wells of Edinburgh – Holy and Otherwise – June 2022 – From St James’ Balm Well in Liberton to St Triduana’s Well in Restalrig, taking in several others on the way.  The precise date depends on St Triduana’s reopening.

Local Pilgrimage Events: Please let us know what you’re planning in your own church and we can advertise and share resources

  • St Mary’s, Grangemouth and St Catharine’s Bo’ness – both these churches have a day this autumn where we will visit sites associated with their history.  For St Mary’s that means the ruins of Dunmore Church, a visit to Christ Church, Falkirk, a trip to the Rectory (built on the site of the first tin kirk), and finishing at the church itself.  In Bo’ness that means visiting medieval ruins at Carriden and Kinneil, a graveyard around a church that’s been converted into, first, a cinema, a garage, and then a house, then on to the Town Hall, and ending at St Catharine’s built 100 years ago. 
  • St Mark’s, Portobello services of pilgrimage and monthly pilgrimages in the autumn