Walking is not only great exercise from a physical perspective, but is also a fantastic way to embark upon a journey of self-discovery. Throughout history, the idea of pilgrimages has commonly been significant purely from a religious perspective, but in actual fact any journey that holds spiritual importance to someone can be classed as a pilgrimage. Such spiritual walks are tools that we can use to better connect with ourselves, with our world, or to search for meaning and truth. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the most famous spiritual walks and pilgrimages not only around the world, but also in the UK, where many members of our online learning community live!

Spiritual Walks & Pilgrimages

There are many well-known walks and pilgrimages that hold spiritual significance for people around the world. Going into detail about each of them could be a blog series in of itself, but some of the most famous include:

Camino de Santiago

Also known as the Way of St. James, this journey is actually a network of pilgrimage routes that leads to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The most popular route to walk is the Camino Francés, which stretches over 800 kilometres (500 miles) in length.

Pilgrims on the Way of St. James

Shikoku Pilgrimage

This is a famous Buddhist pilgrimage in Japan that’s centred around the island of Shikoku. The pilgrimage involves visiting 88 temples that are associated with the Buddhist monk Kūkai (also known as Kōbō Daishi), and the whole undertaking is considered to be a transformative journey.

The Way of Saint Francis

This pilgrimage follows in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi in Italy. It typically starts in Florence and ends in Assisi, although pilgrims visit various places that are associated with the life and teachings of St. Francis as they journey along their chosen route.


The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. It’s one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and every able-bodied and financially-capable Muslim is expected to undertake this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. However, some also voluntarily choose to revisit this sacred site (sometimes multiple times) during a journey that’s known as The Umrah.

Pilgrims in the mountains on Hajj

Mount Kailash Pilgrimage

Located in Tibet, Mount Kailash is considered to be sacred by several religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Bon. Many pilgrims therefore undertake a challenging journey around the mountain, which is believed to bring spiritual purification and enlightenment.

The Pilgrimage to Lourdes

Lourdes, in France, is a major pilgrimage site for Catholics. It is associated with the appearance of the Virgin Mary to a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous. Pilgrims visit the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes not only to seek spiritual solace, but also healing.

Kumbh Mela

Held in India, the Kumbh Mela is probably the largest gathering of Hindu pilgrims in the world, attracting millions of people. This mass pilgrimage includes important ceremonies where devotees bathe in sacred rivers, like the Ganges, to cleanse themselves spiritually.

A gathering during Kumbh Mela

Spiritual Walks in the UK

Each pilgrimage holds unique cultural, religious, and historical importance, attracting countless individuals who are seeking spiritual growth, reflection, and a deeper connection to their faith. However, those of us in the United Kingdom can also experience some of these famous journeys without actually reaching for our passports, as our little green island has several notable spiritual walks that hold cultural and religious significance:

Hadrian’s Wall Pilgrim’s Way

Beginning in a Roman Fort at Housesteads (formerly renowned as a centre for worshipping the “Hooded Gods”) and ending in Corbridge, this journey takes travellers through a Mithraic Temple, a church to St. Oswald, and right by artefacts that are thought to have come from the well of a water nymph.

St. Cuthbert's Way

Opening in 1996, this is a long-distance trail that spans approximately 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Melrose, Scotland, to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, England. It follows the journey of Saint Cuthbert, an important figure in the early Christian history (c. 7th century) of the region.

St. Oswald’s Way

This trail takes you through the landscape of Oswald, the 7th century King of Northumbria, who was instrumental in bringing Christianity to the region. It begins from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and winds through Warkworth, Hadrian’s Wall and Heavenfield.

Cotswold Way

A 164 kilometre (102-mile) route that takes you through the British Cotswolds, this spiritual walk concludes by reaching the lovely city of Bath, which gives pilgrims the opportunity to visit Bath Abbey. This was the site where the very first king of all England, Edgar, was crowned in AD 973.

Pilgrims' Way

Perhaps considered to be the “ultimate” UK pilgrimage, this ancient route (dating back to the stone age!) stretches from Winchester in Hampshire to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in Kent. It is associated with the pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Thomas Becket, and was one of the main pilgrimage routes in mediaeval times.

The West Highland Way

Although not explicitly spiritual in nature, this long-distance footpath in Scotland offers stunning natural beauty and a profound sense of tranquillity. Many walkers find solace and spiritual connection while traversing its 154-kilometre (96-mile) route through the Scottish Highlands: sounds like a pilgrimage to us!

The Scottish Highlands

Iona Pilgrimage

The Isle of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, is considered to be a sacred place and a centre of Christian pilgrimage. Pilgrims often visit the historic Iona Abbey, founded by Saint Columba, to seek spiritual inspiration and reflection.

The Green Pilgrimage Network

This network connects various sites across the UK, focusing on eco-spirituality and sustainable living. It includes places like St. Albans Abbey, Glastonbury Tor, and Lindisfarne, and holds great meaning due to the emphasis that it places on the connection between spirituality, nature, and environmental stewardship.

The Walsingham Pilgrimage

Walsingham, located in Norfolk, England, is a significant Christian pilgrimage site that’s associated with the Virgin Mary. The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham attracts pilgrims who seek prayer, reflection, and a sense of spiritual renewal.

These are just a few examples of spiritual walks and pilgrimages in the UK, but of course every country has its own rich history of pilgrimage traditions and sacred sites, offering opportunities for individuals to engage in spiritual exploration, connect with nature, and delve into their faith or personal beliefs. If the idea of helping others to deepen their spirituality and better understand themselves appeals to you, then our Spiritual Life Coaching Diploma Course is available now for just £29 (save £118!). Packed full of information about spiritual life, you’ll learn theory, methods and practices that can be applied to real life coaching situations.

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