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Written by
Mary Lawless
Mary Lawless

What Makes a Walk a Pilgrimage?

Really is there much difference between walking the West Highland Way and the Camino de Santiago? After all everyone who walks the Camino does not do it for religious reasons. So, what does make a walk a pilgrimage? It is widely known as a journey to a place that is considered special as holy place or a place of historical significance. That is true in the traditional sense, but the intention is what makes a pilgrimage different. A walk with purpose & significance from self-discovery to personal achievement. Sometimes, the purpose isn't clear until reflection upon completion of the journey but it can lead to a personal transformation.

Benefits of a Pilgrimage

A pilgrimage is the perfect way to clear your mind, focus on your journey and take the time to soak up surroundings. With this focus you will make discoveries along the way, about yourself, about the human spirit, and the culture of the land you explore.

Feeling more connected with nature, the smell of pine trees or freshly cut grass, the feeling of sun warming your face or taking the time to listen to the birds chirping in the trees can give your life a new meaning.

Meeting people of diverse backgrounds, sharing the experience and making your way to a common goal is part of the beauty of a pilgrimage. The camaraderie and interactions you will encounter along the way can give you a new understanding of humanity.

Tried and Tested Pilgrimages

The Camino

The Camino

The Camino is probably the most famous pilgrimage and remains the firm favorite for many pilgrimage walkers. The Camino de Santiago in Spain is the heart of the modern pilgrimage world and every year thousands take to its various paths to trek to Santiago de Compostela. There are a variety of different routes to choose from the popular French Way or Camino Frances, for a more peaceful route of the Camino del Norte or the coastal route along the Camino Portuguese Coastal Way.

St Cuthbert's Way

St Cuthbert's Way

The St Cuthbert’s Way in UK follows a beautiful trail through Northumberland and the Scottish Borders and finishes at the Holy Island, one of Europe’s most famous historic and religious sites. The Telegraph newspaper listed St Cuthbert’s Way as one of its five top UK pilgrimage walks, as well as The Saints’ Way and the Pilgrim’s Way. This route is perfect for anyone with an interest in history and unspoiled landscapes.

St Patrick's Way

Saint Patrick's Way

Follow in the footsteps of Saint Patrick on the best of Northern Ireland’s pilgrimage walking trail. Saint Patrick is one of the world’s most beloved saints and Ireland’s most famous.  Enjoy the variety of landscapes; rolling farmland that sweeps down to the sea, the dramatic Mourne Mountains, breath-taking flora and fauna, golden gorse, ancient stone walls and views over Carlingford Lough.

St Oswald's Way

The St Oswald’s Way is a 97-mile walk through some of the finest landscapes in Northumberland. It links important historical landmarks associated with the 7th century King of Northumbria, who played a major part in bringing Christianity to his people. A good option for first-time long distance walkers, the St Oswald's Way allows you to discover the rich history and varied landscapes of this beautiful part of England.

The Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail

The Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail

Walk the highlights of the 88 Temple pilgrimage trail on the island of Shikoku. Starting in Kyoto and ending in Osaka, the Shikoku Pilgrimage Trail brings together the best of Japan including stays in lively cities and peaceful rural walking. The perfect trip for those looking to experience the contemplation of a pilgrimage route that meanders through the Japanese countryside.

Via Francigena

Via Francigena

The Via Francigena is an ancient road and pilgrimage trail from Canterbury to Rome. Walking this route through rural Italy allows you to meet new people, cross unique landscapes, and taste the local cuisine. This is a truly immersive experience visiting authentic Italian villages with vibrant medieval piazzas and street-side cafes.

Visit for more pilgrimage tours.

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