UK pilgrimage routes you can walk on your next holiday

If you’re looking to expand your travels and want to find something that’s as good for your body and soul as it is for your photo album, then a pilgrimage could be just the thing.

Ideal if you're going alone, or in a small or large group; in our helpful guide, we’ve pulled together points of historical and cultural interest that will make your next rambling holiday one of discovery and mindfulness. And there’s no better time than spring to embark on a pilgrimage in the UK – when the world starts to come alive again and the season of new beginnings is underway.  

Make your next holiday one of discovery and mindfulness 

 

Pilgrimages can be enduring so if you can't complete the whole route, continue scrolling for shorter sections from each pilgrimage instead. 

1. St Cuthbert’s Way, Northumberland


2. The Northern Saints Trail, Northumberland

3. The Pilgrim’s Way, North Wales 

4. Glastonbury Water Way, Somerset

5. St Peter’s Way, Essex

6. The Way of St Andrews Pilgrimage, Scotland

7. The Way of St Augustine, Kent 

8. St Thomas Way, South Wales

9. St Michael’s Way, Cornwall

 

St Cuthbert’s Way

Fenwick to The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

 

If you want to tread through the quiet countryside of Northumberland, we’d recommend walking from Fenwick to The Holy Island of Lindisfarne. This six-mile route is the last section of St Cuthbert’s Way but will lead you straight to the Holy Island - St Cuthbert’s resting place. 

 

St Cuthbert was one of medieval England's most famous people. Prior of the monastery at Lindisfarne from 665 until 676, upon his death in 687, people flocked to pray at his grave where miracles of healing were reported. One of the most important centres of early English Christianity, the Holy Island is a place of healing, tranquillity and breathtaking beauty.  

  1. Pilgrim's Way

    • To get to Holy Island, you can cross over Pilgrim’s Way. Dating back to 635, this ancient route is a pedestrian-only path across sand and mud to Holy Island. Up until the 1950s, Pilgrim’s Way was the only access point to the island, marked solely by vertical poles sticking out of the sand. Allow 90 minutes to cross the path, and plan your visit carefully as the tides can cover the route very quickly.
  2. Lindisfarne Castle

    • When you reach the island three miles later, you can explore Lindisfarne Castle. The castle played an important role in defending England during the 16th-century when it became a military base for Henry VIII’s force to enter into Scotland. In 1903, the castle was converted into a holiday home, where you can now tour its exhibition rooms and learn about the island’s history.
  3. The Ship Inn

    • Turn back from the castle and visit the family-owned The Ship Inn. Located on the island, it’s waiting to welcome you for a much-needed rest stop. Enjoy a beer, wine or snack here to refuel after trekking over the Pilgrim’s Way. 
  4. The Crown and Anchor Inn

    • Next door is The Crown and Anchor Inn. Whether you stop here for lunch or dinner, sample its delicious seasonal menu of traditional British dishes and local Northumberland delicacies. This independently-run inn is dog-friendly, too. 

 

 

 

 

The Northern Saints Trail

Millennium Bridge to the Angel of the North (The Angel’s Way)

 

 

If you fancy it, you can tick off another pilgrimage route during your stay in Northumberland too. Section three of The Angel’s Way forms part of The Northern Saints Trail. It starts at the Millenium Bridge and ends at the world-famous Angel of the North. This five-mile route takes you through Gateshead, a town that’s brimming with trendy bars, shops and cafes. As well as boasting some beautiful countryside for you to explore. 

  1. Gateshead Millennium Bridge

    • The Angel’s Way begins at Gateshead Millennium Bridge and as the world’s first and only tilting bridge, it’s a must-see. The bridge links Gateshead with Newcastle and looks like a wonder tilting on its axis from a riverboat cruise or an outdoor restaurant nearby. It’s 50 metres tall and attracts thousands of visitors who stand and marvel at its impressive structure every year.
  2. Angel of the North

    • Travel the full five miles of The Angel’s Way and you’ll reach the Angel of the North. This iconic 20-meter tall sculpture by Antony Gormley acts as a symbol of communication, as well as hope for the region. Its erection in 1998 marked the beginning of change for the region, while also being a reminder of its mining history. Stop here for a few moments to admire this iconic piece of artwork. 
  3. The Broad Chare 

    • Just half a mile from the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, you can overlook the River Tyne from The Broad Chare. A modern watering hole with a traditional pub-like feel, sit at the bar and enjoy a drink.
  4. Riverbeat

    • Riverbeat is also just half a mile from the bridge. Serving up Asian tapas in a relaxed and warming setting, it’s the perfect option for fuelling your body for the pilgrimage walk.

 

 

 

 

Pilgrim’s Way
Porth Oer to Bardsey Island

 

 

Planning a trip to North Wales? Then you’ll definitely want to discover Pilgrim’s Way, a UK pilgrimage route of over 130 miles that covers a number of historical pilgrimage sites. One of its most scenic sections is from Porth Oer to Bardsey Island, where a Christian monastery was founded more than 1,500 years ago and is believed to be the first monastery in Britain. The entire section, including the boat to Bardsey Island, is just over five miles long. 

 

The map is from Porth Oer to Swnt Enlli. From Swnt Enlli, you can get a boat ride to Bardsey Island.

  1. St Hywyn Church

    • Over two and a half miles in, located on the seafront is St Hywyn Church. Nestled in the pretty village of Aberdaron; during the Middle Ages, two pilgrim routes journeyed along the north and south coasts. The church was the final stopping point on both routes before pilgrims made the journey across the sea to Bardsey Island. 
  2. Bardsey Island Nature Reserve

    • From Aberdaron’s coast, take a two-mile boat ride across Swnt Enlli (Bardsey Sound) to Bardsey Island. It’s known as the isle of 20,000 saints as it’s said that there are that many buried here. Today, the island is a nature reserve so as you hike around its unspoilt landscapes you should spot plenty of wildlife - including seals and dolphins if you're lucky!
  3. The Ship Hotel

    • Just a few minutes walk from Aberdaron’s seafront, where you stopped to look at St Hywyn Church, is where you’ll find The Ship Hotel. It’s a family-run establishment with a traditional pub. Enjoy a local ale or beer here along the coast.
  4. Gwesty Tŷ Newydd

    • Dine at Gwesty Tŷ Newydd and enjoy freshly caught fish and locally produced ingredients. The restaurant is located in the heart of Aberdaron, so it’s a great pitstop before making the journey over to Bardsey Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glastonbury Water Way

Bath to Frome (Aquae Sulis)

 

 

If you’re visiting Somerset on your next adventure, it’s the perfect opportunity to complete Aquae Sulis of Glastonbury Water Way. This two-day, 23-mile adventure from Bath to Frome honours Britain’s wild waters and natural springs. Swim, bathe and even drink from a number of waters along the way and reconnect with these holy streams. 

  1. The Roman Baths

    • Just 500 feet from your starting point, you’ll find one of the most spectacular points of interest on this pilgrimage, the Roman Baths. Dating all the way back to 75 AD, the Romans built a spiritual spa where people from all over Britain came to worship the goddess Sulis Minerva. It was also used for public bathing and in the 17th-century even doctors recommended drinking the natural waters to treat certain illnesses.
  2. Dundas Aqueduct

    • Just a 2.9-mile walk from the Roman Baths, you’ll discover another significant body of water. Dundas Aqueduct is an 18th-century arch stone that stretches across the River Avon. It’s a Scheduled Ancient Monument which means it carries the same importance as Stonehenge. Take a dip in its waters which are shallow enough for safe swimming. 
  3. The Three Swans

    • Continue your journey to the end of the pilgrimage route and you’ll reach The Three Swans. Located in Frome, it will be a welcome sight! It’s a quirky pub with unusual decor and intriguing chairs. Serving local ales and wines, they make some of the best pork pies and scotch eggs in the South West! A great spot where you can make the most of some top-notch drinks. 
  4. Ole Tapas

    • Fuel for your journey at Ole Tapas. Located at the starting point of this trip, this traditional Spanish restaurant in Bath will tantalise your tastebuds before you set off. Well acquainted with pilgrimages, Lina from Ole Tapas reveals that “our original founders are from Santiago de Compostela, Spain, where everyone gathers after walking the Camino de Santiago.”

 

 

 

 

St Peter’s Way

Chipping Ongar to Hanningfield Reservoir

 

 

If you’re keen to explore Essex, why not uncover its Anglo-Saxon history on St Peter’s Way? Also known as St Peter the Apostle, St Peter was the leader of the 12 disciples and the first bishop of Rome. He is also considered to have been the first person Jesus Christ visited after the Resurrection. The Chipping Ongar to Hanningfield Reservoir section of this pilgrim walk allows you to uncover the region’s deep-rooted history as you complete the 14-mile journey.

  1. St Andrew’s Church Greensted

    • You’ll find St Andrew’s Church Greensted at your starting point. This ancient place of worship is thought to be the oldest wooden church in the world, representing over 1,300 years of English and Christian history. It’s made from 51 timber planks that date back to 1060 but its earlier structures date back further to the 6th-century.
  2. Hanningfield Reservoir

    • Further along the route, you’ll arrive at Hanningfield Reservoir. 15 miles from St Andrew’s Church, this 870-acre park is alive with swifts, swallows and martins that feed over the water. Enjoy a walk through the ancient woodland with plenty of fauna to discover, too. 
  3. The King’s Head 

    • Founded in 1679, The King’s Head is the oldest brick-front building on Chipping Ongar’s high street. Sip on a local beer supplied by Brentwood Brewery as you relax in the lounge. You can either start your adventure here or travel back from Hanningfield Reservoir. 
  4. Porterhouse Wine Bar + Kitchen 

    • Located in Chipping Ongar, Porterhouse Wine Bar + Kitchen is a great spot for dinner. Bringing a little of America to this corner of the world, their speciality Porterhouse steaks are aged for 28 days on charcoal grills.

 

 

 

 

The Way of St Andrews Pilgrimage

The Rosslyn Chapel Way

 

 

Referred to as one of the greatest pilgrimage sites around, The Way of St Andrews Pilgrimage is said to emulate the likes of walking holidays in Camino de Santiago and Santiago de Compostela. And with a total of eight walks to choose from, you could complete one on your next trip to Scotland. We’d recommend Rosslyn Chapel Way. Starting at Saint Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, the ten-mile off-the-beaten-track route begins in the city of Edinburgh and descends on former railway tracks and forest paths. 

 

"A great part of going on pilgrimage is being ready for sudden surprises, whether it’s that amazing landscape of snow-covered mountains and water against an early evening sun or a pub just when you need it. And there is plenty of both of those, and lots of other surprises in between, on our pilgrimage trails." 

 

- Hugh Lockhart, Secretary, the Way of St Andrews

  1. Arthur’s Seat

    • A 2.7-mile walk from Saint Mary’s is Arthur’s Seat. Situated in Holyrood Park and sitting at 251 metres above sea level, the ancient volcano is the park’s highest point, and is one of four hill forts in the area that dates back 2000 years. Described by Scottish novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson as a “hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design", it’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest with a diverse geological landscape and plenty of flora to be seen. Climb to the top and be rewarded with views across the capital. 
  2. Craigmillar Castle

    • Craigmillar Castle is another highlight you’ll see along the way. A two-mile walk from Arthur’s Seat, the castle was the first of its kind to ever be built in Scotland and has a rich history dating back to the late 1300s. The Tower House was once a residence for the Preston family of Craigmillar but is most famously known for providing shelter to Mary Queen of Scots in 1566. It’s one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Scotland. Explore its maze rooms and climb the Tower House to take in views of the city. 
  3. Tolbooth Tavern 

    • Set in a reportedly haunted 16th-century building, Tolbooth Tavern is an atmospheric pub. It once acted as a toll station (hence its name), but today it’s a great place to sit and have a pint or two. Find it at the start of the pilgrimage route. 
  4. Howies Restaurant 

    • Enjoy traditional Scottish dishes and delicacies at Howies Restaurant. This bright and airy bistro prides itself on its seasonal dishes – another favourite spot near Arthur’s Seat, so you’ll have to turn back from Craigmillar Castle. 

 

 

 

 

The Way of St Augustine

Ramsgate to West Stourmouth

 

 

 On a visit to Kent, you could definitely complete The Way of St Augustine in one day. But the best way to really take in the beauty of its landscape is to halve it. We’d recommend the Ramsgate to West Stourmouth route. It’s 10 miles long, and you’ll follow in the footsteps of St Augustine and discover England’s religious past. If you’d prefer not to walk the whole route, there’s the option to canoe it from Ramsgate to West Stourmouth, or switch it up and hire a canoe halfway through!

  1. Shrine of St Augustine

    • The route starts at the Shrine of St Augustine, where you’ll find a relic – a small bone from his body. St Augustine was sent by Pope Gregory in 595 to evangelise in England. He was a monk at the monastery known for performing miracles, and pilgrims have been coming to the shrine for over 1500 years to pay their respects.
  2. St Augustine’s Cross

    • Lying just three miles from the shrine, St Augustine’s Cross marks what is thought to have been St Augustine’s landing in 597 AD. He held the first mass here and met King Ethelbert here too, who later converted to Christianity. The cross was erected in the 19th-century as a memorial stone for the Saint. 
  3. The Foundry Brew Pub

    • Travel 14 miles to the end of your journey and arrive at Canterbury. Reward yourself with drink from family-run The Foundry Brew Pub. Set in a former factory, Jodie reveals that “we're producing English Whisky now too which is of huge interest to many alongside the Gins, Moonshine and Rum!”
  4. La Magnolia

    • Sit overlooking the harbour and tuck into a plate of freshly-made food at La Magnolia. Owned by an Italian family and winning multiple food awards, you’ll love the authentic Italian dishes they serve here. As it’s in Ramgate, you can either start here or, or circle back to enjoy a delicious meal at the end of your journey. 
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St Thomas Way

Swansea Circular

 

 

Legend has it that William Cragh, otherwise known as the ‘Hanged Man’, was hanged in 1290 but came back to life. After his recovery, he went on pilgrimage to the tomb of St Thomas at Hereford Cathedral, which inspired the St Thomas Way pilgrimage. Visit Swansea and complete the 1.5-mile circular route to uncover the medieval history of the town and explore some of its most famous landmarks. 

  1. Swansea Castle

    • You’ll pass by Swansea Castle at the beginning of this route and find ruins from the 13th and 14th-century. Once a grand Norman fortress, it’s suffered many Welsh raids throughout history and has been rebuilt several times. Today, it retains only a few of its original features, and what’s left is only a small part of the castle. Back in the 1300s, it spanned from Welcome Lane to Caer Street – covering 4.6 acres.
  2. St Mary’s Church

    • After the Normans landed in Swansea, churches began to be built here. Less than one mile from the castle, St Mary’s Church was erected in 1328 and has been rebuilt several times over the centuries. In 1739, the roof collapsed into the church, luckily while everyone was congregating outside. And in 1822, the church was victim to an arson attack where it was set alight with 36 lamps. 
  3. Cross Keys 

    • Built on the foundations of what was a 13th-century hospital, Cross Keys is one of the oldest buildings in Swansea. It serves delicious pub food and has an impressive beer garden too. You’ll find it along the circular route, just opposite St Mary’s Church. 
  4. Slice

    • Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Slice, a Michelin-star restaurant serving up modern British cuisine. It’s just outside of the city centre but it’s worth tasting their award-winning dishes. Think innovative cuisine with an emphasis on using local produce.

 

 

 

 

St Michael’s Way

 

 

At just 11 miles long, St Michael’s Way is easily completed in one day and takes you from Lelant to St Michael’s Mount; along the coastline of Cornwall and past historical hilltops, holy surroundings and holy waters. The route is thought to have been used by pilgrims travelling from Ireland to Wales to avoid the dangerous waters near Lands End. The views along this path are really breathtaking and it’s a great way to bring the ancient story of Irish Saints and Giants to life.  

  1. St Uny’s Church

    • Your pilgrimage starts here, and there’s really no better place to begin. St Uny’s Church commemorates Saint Uny, who arrived from Ireland and passed Christianity onto the Cornish people sometime in the 6th-century. Made completely from granite, its history dates back to medieval times. Walk around the outside of this holy place to honour it before stepping inside. 
  2. St Euny’s Well

    • Half a mile later, you’ll discover the beautiful St Euny’s Well. This ancient historic site has a deep Celtic history dating back to the 7th-century. There was once a chapel nearby too which formed part of this holy pilgrimage place. It’s said that even today the water has incredible healing properties. Tradition says upon your visit, you should dip your hands into it and leave a gift of silver. 
  3. The Badger Inn 

    • Turn back from the well to stop by The Badger Inn, a charming Cornish pub in the heart of Lelant. This family-friendly inn has famous ties to the English writer, Virginia Woolf.
  4. Birdies Bistro

    • With stunning views over the estuary in Lelant, Birdies Bistro is the perfect spot for an evening meal. They rustle up classic British dishes with a twist and with fresh and often organic ingredients.

 

 

 

Fife Pilgrim Way

Ceres to St Andrew

 

 

Fife Pilgrim Way is a 70-mile-long route from Culross to St Andrews, ending at what was one of the main pilgrimage destinations in Medieval Europe. The way has shaped Fife’s landscape, with many of the county’s roads, bridges and crossing points all built to create a safe passage for pilgrims. The route is split up into seven sections. We’d recommend the 9.5-mile-long Ceres to St Andrew section, the last leg of the journey which leaves the lush village of Ceres before entering St Andrews through a picturesque woodland walk. 

  1. Fife Folk Museum

    • Starting in the centre of Ceres, walk a few steps and you’ll find Fife Folk Museum. It’s housed in buildings that date back to the 19th-century. Step inside and you’ll find a collection of everyday items that were owned and used by the local people of Fife. Objects range from kitchen utensils, china and old photographs to agricultural machinery, horse-drawn carts and bicycles. 
  2. Bishop’s Bridge

    • 200 feet after the museum, you’ll pass Bishop’s Bridge, a 17th-century packhorse bridge. It’s named after Archbishop Sharp who served as an Archbishop of St Andrews from 1661 to 1679. His Episcopalian views often got him into conflict with Presbyterians of the Kirk. He was the victim of two assassination attempts, the second was successful and became a political murder.
  3. The Village Cafe

    • Located in the centre of Ceres, head inside The Village Cafe for a bite to eat and a coffee to fuel your journey. There is a wonderful selection of freshly-made cakes and pastries to choose from. The Village Cafe is run by volunteers from the local community and is also dog-friendly.
  4. The Criterion

    • When you reach St Andrews, reward yourself with a well-earned pint at The Criterion. This traditional family-run pub was established in 1874 and has a wide offering of locally-sourced whiskies, cask ales and gins. They have an outdoor seating area too which is perfect for enjoying the sun. 

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