What do you think of when you hear the word ‘pilgrimage’? Heading to Rome? Or Mecca? I’m guessing Edinburgh doesn’t feature high of the list. I don’t think even most locals know that we’re a starting point for what was once one of the most important pilgrimage routes in Europe – The Way of St Andrews.
The pilgrimage dates back to the 10th century as a way to honour St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, by visiting the church in St Andrews (the town) said to house his bones. The pilgrimage died out in 16th century with the reformation in Scotland and nowadays I’m sure most people today think of pilgrimages to St Andrews are about golf!
The modern-day pilgrimage route to St Andrews was reinaugurated in 2012 and is called St Margaret’s Way. Walking the whole 100km is a great experience if you’ve got several days to spare but it’s also possible to walk small sections of the route around the city after work or on the weekend.
The Edinburgh part of the route starts at Eduardo Paolozzi’s giant bronze sculpture of a foot. It heads down Broughton Street, where you can stop for a quick coffee at Artisan Roast or wee wine at Pickles on your way out, and skirts the Royal Botanic Gardens before joining part of the old railway path network and arriving at the Forth Rail Bridge.
Whether you’re heading to St Andrews or just pilgrimaging between spots in town, it’s a great walk!