Pioneer Pilgrims – Walking the Way of St Andrews

Sometimes there are ideas which inspire you, but you don’t quite get round to it… you know the ones, often crystallised in a list of New Year Resolutions, which are forgotten by February.

One such idea, in the back of my mind for some time, since I found out about Cameron Black‘s Book “The St Andrews Way – Restoration of a Medieval Pilgrimage”, has been to undertake a long-distance walk. But not one of the sort which requires all sorts of preparation and planning, one which can be achieved in sections, perhaps as a series of day trips.

Earlier this week I was browsing the Internet looking for inspiration to inform an article which I was encouraging a colleague at the Lammermuir Festival to write about a pilgrimage from North Berwick to Cellardyke by boat. I came across an article about a pilgrimage which was due to take place on 1 July 2012, walking from St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh, to St Andrews Cathedral in Fife. I slotted the article away in my memory, thinking that I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to join in. However, with the family all declaring that they were off to busy themselves in different ways, I woke thinking that maybe I just might be able to go along and achieve part of my ambition to walk a little of the way at least.

Pioneer Pilgrims sign at Eduardo Paolozzi statue, Edinburgh

Pioneer Pilgrims meet here

Cardinal Keith O'Brien at St Mary's RC Cathedral, Edinburgh

The start of the Way of St Andrews 2012 Pilgrimage

Cardinal Keith O’Brien leads the way

Cardinal Keith O’Brien leads the Pilgrimage

Inverleith Park looking towards Edinburgh Castle

Inverleith Park looking towards Edinburgh Castle

River Almond at Cramond Brig on the St Andrew's Way Pilgrimage walk

River Almond at Cramond Brig on the St Andrew's Way

The first stage follows Cycle Route 1

The first stage follows Cycle Route 1

Views towards the Forth Bridge from Dalmeny on the St Andrews Way

Views towards the Forth Bridge from Dalmeny

Forth Bridge at the end of the St Andrews Way Day 1

Forth Bridge, where I left the St Andrews Way


We were accompanied along the way by Huw Williams, a reporter from BBC Radio Scotland, and you can hear about the walk in this BBC News item as he interviews some of the walkers on the way. I joined the walk because of my fascination for the route between Edinburgh and St Andrews. Luckily, my local knowledge and the gentle herding by the leaders of the group meant that I made it to South Queensferry by the most direct route. Huw and some of the others in the group had to rely on Smartphone apps to get them to the end point. I hope that the ladies in the group of 6 who were aiming to complete the whole walk this week, including Bridget and Yvonne and the others, enjoy the experience and make it through to St Andrews. For me, that will have to await another time.

Post script: I’ve followed up my researches with some investigations about the Camino de Santiago, whose revival sparked the interest in reviving the Way of St Andrews. The aforementioned journalist, Huw Williams, led me to the blog of Bob Walker, who is walking the Camino de Santiago in July 2012, and writing a blog about his walk. Some friends in Edinburgh lent me a video, The Way, which my husband and I watched and really enjoyed. They also told me about their friend Gordon Davidson’s blog about his personal journey, which I’m now adding to this postscript as it is a very moving account of his journey.

A quiet place near the Royal Mile

Wandering around Edinburgh this morning reminded me of city walking in Rome – the sort where you move from shady spot to shady spot with frequent stops for coffees and ices.

As I’d arranged to visit a friend with an apartment near Nether Craigwell, I was strolling up the Canongate section of the Royal Mile when I spotted the sign for Dunbar’s Close and thought it would be a good time to go in and explore the shady spaces there. What a treat!

Several others had chosen to take a picnic lunch there, and I was wishing I’d done the same as it’s a real haven of peace among the city streets.




You can find Dunbar’s Close Garden by following the close off the Royal Mile next to the Christmas Shop and opposite the Canongate branch of Starbuck’s.

My Edinburgh Apps – iPhone apps for visitors to Edinburgh

If you’re staying at Craigwell Cottage, you’ll have access to free wi-fi and many of our guests find it helpful for keeping up to date with their emails or booking tickets for events while they’re here.

Edinburgh Apps

Apps for Edinburgh

If you’re an iPhone user, then there are some Edinburgh Apps which you might like to download ready for your visit.

Edinburgh Spotlight’s iEdinburgh app gives you an insider’s view on places to eat, current events and perennial favourites around Scotland’s capital city – you’ll even find a review of Craigwell Cottage in there.

The EdinBus app provides up to the minute information about bus timetables.

Getting last minute tickets at last year’s Edinburgh Festival and Fringe was made more exciting by the Theatre Ninjas app – great if you’re in town and want to take in a show.

And if you’re an Ian Rankin fan and would like to take narrated walks round the Edinburgh featured in his novels, then the Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh app is the one for you.

The Walking Through Time app developed as a joint project between Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh, and the National Library of Scotland overlays historic maps on present day ones so that you can see historic changes as you walk round the centre of Edinburgh.

Do you have a favourite app for your mobile phone which you’ve used when visiting Edinburgh?  Leave me a comment and I’ll check it out.

Walking from Edinburgh to St Andrews

Thanks to the folks at Informed Edinburgh, I’ve just been reading about of a walking route which follows the trail of ancient pilgrimages from Edinburgh to St Andrews. A book by Cameron Black called ‘The Saint Andrew’s Way – Restoration of a Medieval Pilgrimage’ is due to be released. You can obtain copies by emailing

With excellent public transport routes from Edinburgh to Fife, Craigwell Cottage might just be a possible base for walkers who come to Edinburgh to start the walk and intend to walk it in sections. And even a stay at Sandcastle Cottage, our lovely seaside home in Fife, might be an alternative base for those wishing to walk sections of the Fife part of the walk.

I’ve entered the competition to win a guide, but it will be going on my Christmas wish list too! Would be great training for next year’s Edinburgh Moonwalk which I’ll be walking towards during 2011.

St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews Cathedral

Edinburgh – 40 Town and Country Walks

Came across this little publication by Kerry Nelson

whilst browsing books about Edinburgh in my local library. It’s easy to put in your pocket, and covers many favourite walks in and around Edinburgh. A good addition to your preparations if you’re thinking about visiting Edinburgh. Many of the walks can be easily started from Craigwell Cottage, and there are directions for public transport to the start of each walk.

A wonderful night for a MoonWalk

This is it, girls [and boys in bras], the night we’ve been training for. Edinburgh hosts the 2010 MoonWalk event this evening, raising money for a very good cause.

Saw the tented village in Inverleith Park yesterday.  No doubt a hive of activity this afternoon.  Have the kit all laid out. Costumes will hopefully cover a multitude of sins – hopefully flying the flag is still ok even if it is supposed to be a Mardi Gras theme – Scotch Pancakes anyone?

Weather forecast looks good, and it looks like it will be a settled night, so I’m really looking forward to it, but just a teeny bit nervous, and not coping well with sitting about waiting!

A walk round Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park from Craigwell Cottage

One of the popular activities for guests who stay at Craigwell Cottage is to take a walk round Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park.

views over St Margaret's loch to the forth

If you head for the Scottish Parliament at the end of the Royal Mile, then you can pick up the route from there no matter where you’re staying!

climbing Arthur's Seat

The route is just under 4 miles, and it is quite steep at the start, but you will want to take frequent stops to allow for taking photographs and maybe making little videos, so allow a couple of hours. There are no restrooms on the route, and no shops, so if it is a hot day it would be advisable to take a bottle of water with you and make sure you put on some sunscreen. A good stout pair of walking shoes or trainers (sneakers) should suffice, and after the first mile or so the route follows a tarmac pavement. The ‘off road’ part of the walk is along a rough track which is wide enough for 3 people to walk side by side, but do take care as the ground falls away very steeply beside the path, so don’t get too close to the edge.

To pick up the path in front of Salisbury Crags, keep the Scottish Parliament building to your right, but stay on that side of the road, crossing Queen’s Drive and turning left along the side of the cycle track on the south side of Queen’s Drive. You should see a short flight of steps leading up to the track – turn right there and start your climb. Follow the track until you descend to Queen’s Drive, then follow it round the south side of Arthur’s Seat, passing Duddingston Loch and Dunsapie Loch and then descending to pass St Margaret’s Loch and returning to your starting point near Holyrood Palace.

There are many opportunities for photography, and if you’ve timed your walk to finish in time for “elevenses” or afternoon tea, then we’d be happy to recommend a visit to Hemma Bar, Sugarhouse Sandwiches, Clarinda’s Tearoom or the Queen’s Gallery Cafe.