Scotland’s Pilgrim Journeys, there are 6 in total, is a concept of a national network of pilgrimages, allowing both visitors and local communities to be able to access our wonderful range of church buildings in a meaningful way – whether the visit be due to spiritual, heritage motivation or both.
Passports can be downloaded online with a space to add stamps from each of the ‘hub’ churches you visit which are taking part. Nearest to Loch Melfort Hotel is Kilmelford Church, 4 miles north.
St Columba Journey: Exile and Resurrection. Route length: 743 miles
From Ireland to Kintyre, through Argyll to Iona onwards, Columba’s epic journey by sea and land form the cultural and sacred geography of Scotland. Dramatic scenery unveils a story of exile, penitence and peace. St Columba was an important Irish Saint who founded many monasteries. He was connected to the royal dynasties of the north of Ireland, and may have gone into exile in 563 because of a war between kingdoms in which he played some part. Exile took him to Argyll, where he was related to the King of Dalriada, and to Iona where he founded Scotland’s most influential early monastery, dying there in 597.
Most notable to the area near to Loch Melfort Hotel; from Crinan you turn north into an area of Argyll whose concentration of sacred sites is unrivalled except perhaps in Orkney. On the left hand is the citadel of Dunadd, where kings were inaugurated, and on the right Kilmichael Glassary with its ancient Church of Kilbride. Columba probably participated in the inauguration at Dunadd of Aedan, Dalriada’s most famous ruler. Next comes Kilmartin Glen with its complex of cairns and standing stones; then Kilmartin with its carvings, church and museum. Above Kilmartin lies Carnasserie Castle where John Carsewell, the first Protestant Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, translated John Knox’s liturgy into Gaelic. A roll call of beauty and historical interest lies ahead with the villages of mid-Argyll from Ardfern and Craignish to Kilmelford and Kilninver. A detour to the inner islands of Seil and Luing reminds us that the sea is ever present.