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

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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.

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