Overview

Our small monasteries live in the heart of a hidden treasure for the Orthodox world in the West. The Saints of these Isles shone bright in the first millennium and they are our direct historical link to the very roots of Orthodoxy, our Orthodox DNA.

Our monastic communities have a duty to rediscover these Saints and to bring them back into our lives. More appropriately, we have a duty to educate and to get us back in touch with our own spiritual past. If we forget our roots, we have already condemned our fruit. Apart from offering free accommodation and board throughout the year, our Monastery organises and leads several paid week-long Pilgrimages to destinations related to the Saints of the Isles.

Our mission is to expose our modern hearts to the spiritual treasures of the first millennium, with the firm conviction that Grace will enter and work our salvation from within. Seek peace, be still and allow the winds and the waves of this ‘ocean desert’ to speak to you about our Creator and the amazing Saints who served Him ‘at the ends of the world’.

Getting Here

Getting to Scotland

If you are flying to the UK, the nearest international airports to the Western Isles are Glasgow International and Edinburgh International.

Getting to Oban

From Glasgow or Edinburgh - which are the closest main international airports - you need to find your way to Oban. You can do this by bus or by train. We recommend the train because the three-hour direct ride from Glasgow Queen Street to Oban is a three-hour delight - you'll pass through the Lochs region, one of the most beautiful areas of Scotland. Click here to view train timetables from Glasgow to Oban.

Getting to the Isle of Mull

Once in Oban, you'll cross by ferry to Craignure, on the Isle of Mull, where we'll come and meet you. We will confirm a meeting time before the pilgrimage starts but typically this will be mid-afternoon.

CalMac Ferries is the only ferry company serving the Inner Hebrides - www.calmac.co.uk

Other Travel Information

If possible, please make your travel arrangements so that you arrive in Scotland at least one day before our pilgrimage begins and fly out at least a day after our pilgrimage ends - that will protect you against flight delays or cancellations, and will allow you a bit of time to get over the time difference.

On our last day of pilgrimage, we shall drive you back into Craignure. We aim to get there for one of the first two ferries of the day, so that you may get a mid-day train back into Glasgow, which would allow you to be in central Glasgow around 3-4 PM. This is what we aim - the reality may differ depending on the weather and the ferries.

Weather-wise, prepare for mild summer / early autumn temperatures, with the occasional (hopefully, not daily) rain. A few warm layers could be useful, especially if the wind decides to join us. A pair of waterproof walking boots and a waterproof jacket will also be useful.

Pilgrimage and Payment Information

You can pay for your pilgrimage online using this booking system. Click here to view dates and book.

New feature: After you have registered by paying your deposit, you can pay for your remaining balance in installments using our online account system.

The total cost per place is 1600 GBP (or USD equivalent at the date of payment), split between the Deposit (300 GBP) and the Balance Payment (1300 GBP).

Please use https://www.xe.com for updated currency exchange rate.

For our USA pilgrims: the price of the pilgrimage can be paid BY CHEQUE. The cheque should be written to American Friends of the Celtic Saints and sent to American Friends of the Celtic Saints, 3736 W County Rd 4, Berthoud, CO 80513. Please include a note with the names of the pilgrims and the week of pilgrimage for which you are making the payment.

To pay by cheque / bank transfer / paypal please be in touch by email by clicking here

If you prefer to pay online, please click here to book online.


The price of the Pilgrimage includes:

Accommodation in a twin room (two single beds) for seven nights on the Isle of Iona and the Isle of Mull (split between our Hermitage on the Isle of Iona and our Pilgrimage House on the Isle of Mull);

All breakfasts, dinners and packed lunches (as we shall be travelling somewhere every day);

Transport by car everywhere on the Isle of Mull;

One motor boat to take us to St Brendan’s Isle (weather permitting);

One sailing boat to take us to St Kenneth’s Isle (weather permitting);

Entry tickets to all places we visit.

We aim to make sure that, once you arrive to the Isle of Mull, there is nothing else for you to worry about for the entire week. This way, we may focus on the pilgrimage itself, on personal prayer and communion with one another. If you need help with any aspect of the trip, we are here to advise and help you.

We visit some of the most remote and authentic places connected with early Celtic Christianity. Some of these places have been uninhabited for centuries, with no touristic or religious routes linking them to other destinations. The pilgrimages organised by the Monastery are the only way one can visit some of these isles.

Among many other places, we shall get to the Isle of Iona (Iona Abbey, Martyrs’ Bay, the Nunnery, St Oran’s Chapel, the famous Celtic High Crosses, St Columba’s Bay, the Hill of the Turning Back to Ireland and the Machair); the ruins of St Kenneth’s monastery and the ancient hermit cells; St Brendan’s monastery on his uninhabited Isle; and some of the great Celtic Christian places on the Isle of Mull (The Nuns’ Cave, the Carsaig Arches, Kilninian etc). The schedule depends on the weather and the state of the ocean.

FAQs

Can I have my own room?
Unfortunately due to space constraints in the pilgrim houses, unless you have booked two places, all pilgrims will be sharing a room. Men and women will have separate rooms.
Is there a washing machine / dryer?
Yes - each house has a washing machine and dryer which pilgrims may use during the days times (apart from Sundays).
Is there phone reception on the Islands?
This is very much dependent on your phone carrier. In our experience EE has the best signal on the Isles of Mull and Iona but even that is not everywhere and is device-dependent. Check the coverage with your carrier before travel if you are reliant on phone signal.
Is there a wifi available in the pilgrim houses?
Yes - each house has wifi. The wifi on Iona is limited and not suitable for video calls.
Will there be any opportunities to work in the monastery?
If you want to and if the weather allows it - we will be very grateful for help with work around the monastery. Simple activities such as gardening, weeding etc.
How difficult are the hikes around the Islands?
On the organised walks around the various Islands, the hikes are not very challenging. Our most difficult hikes are the walk to St Columba's Bay (Iona) and the walk around St Brendan's Isle but even these have not been a challenge for any of our previous pilgrims.
Do I have to attend all the day trips?
No - if you are tired or ill or simply wish to spend some time alone - we can arrange for you to stay at the monastery that day without the rest of the group.
What happens if the weather is not suitable for sailings?
The weather on our Islands is very unpredictable and sailing is very much dependent on good sea conditions. As such, we can never guarantee a sailing. Safety is our main priority and if there is even a small risk of danger - we will either try to rearrange the sailing or provide another activity for that day.

OUR HOLY SITES

Meet In Craignure

First we will meet on the Isle of Mull's eastern port of Craignure. The ferry takes around one hour from the mainland town of Oban. You will be greeted by members of our community and transported to your accommodation.

Dervaig House

When you arrive we will allow you to settle into your new home for the week. The pilgrim house in Dervaig will provide all of the conveniences you will need for the duration of your stay.

Kilninian

Kilninian is the home of Mull Monastery where the Mothers of the monastery live - a short drive from the pilgrimage house in Dervaig. Here you will be able to partake in the life of the monastic services and shared meals.

Kilninian

Calgary Bay

Not far from Kilninian we will visit Calgary Bay - the place from which Calgary in Canada gets its name. Calgary Bay has stunning views, a tranquil beach and a castle overlooking the sandy shore.

Tobermory

Tobermory is the de facto 'capital' of the Isle of Mull. The largest town (population circa 1000) is known for its colourfully painted houses along the coast. Tobermory is a good spot for buying gifts and mementos for loved ones.

Tobermory

Nun's Cave

The Nun's Cave near Carsaig is a natural coastal cave. It is named after the nuns who are believed to have taken refuge for a short time after being driven out of Iona by reformers, who destroyed the treasures and archives of Scottish Christianity, and the buildings of Iona at the time of the Reformation

McKinnon's Cave

The longest sea-cave in all the Hebridean Isles, thought to be the home of a Celtic Abbot, this more challenging walk provides excellent views of some of the inner Hebridean Islands such as Staffa and the Holy Isle of Iona which we will visit later.

Iona Abbey

The Abbey on Iona is the birthplace of Celtic monasticism in the British Isles - the place where St Columba established his monastery. Although rebuilt on the ruins of his monastery, you can still venerate and visit artefacts and treasures from St Columba's time.

Iona Abbey

Iona Nunnery

Located a minute or two's walk from the monastery pilgrim house, the Iona Nunnery was an Augustinian convent of nuns located on the island of Iona in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. It was established sometime after the foundation of the nearby Benedictine monastery in 1203 by Ranald, son of Somerled. Bethóc, daughter of Somerled, and sister of Ranald, was first prioress.

Iona Nunnery

St Oran's Chapel

Close to the historic Iona Abbey, St Oran's chapel is the site where the celtic saint of the same name was buried (alive according to some traditions!). It is a very special place for our monastery as we walk there every evening to sing hymns to the Lord, St Oran and the Mother of God.

St Oran's Chapel

The Celtic Museum

The Celtic Museum on the grounds of the historic Iona Abbey (established by St Columba) contains some of the most valuable objects from the monastery of St Columba such as the first Celtic Cross ever documented (St John's cross) as well as other high-stone crosses, tomb stones and artefacts from the monastery.

The Celtic Museum

Martyr's Bay

Martyr's Bay is the location of the massacre of a large number of Ionian Celtic Monks by the Vikings - the earliest invasion of the Vikings to the Island. Close to the pilgrim house, the beach is a perfect spot for prayer and contemplation.

Martyr's Bay

St Columba's Bay

St Columba's Bay - an easy to moderate hike from the pilgrim house (2-3 hours round trip) is the place where St Columba arrived on the Island of Iona and embarked on his mission to the Celtic people of the Isles. If the weather allows - a beautiful walk with stunning views and wildlife and great for collecting shells and rocks to take home as souvenirs.

The White Strand of the Monk

30-40 minutes walk away from your pilgrim house, you will arrive at the White Strand of the Monk - yet another location blessed by the blood of the Holy Martyrs of Iona who suffered death under the hand of the Vikings. The sandy beaches are a perfect location to enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding Islands.

Iona Cottage (Pilgrim House)

In front of you immediately after exiting the ferry from Mull, the pilgrim house is where you will be based and accommodated during your stay on Iona. The house has a chapel in the garden for private prayer and where the Divine Liturgies will take place.

The Hill of the Angels

This is the hill where in the life of St Columba - a host of angels appeared and surrounded him. An icon of this event is available in the monastery for veneration.

The Machair

The Machair (gaelic for 'grassland') is an open green space - a great location for Island spotting and finding small coved beaches for swimming or paddling.

The Machair

The Hermit's Cell

For the more adventurous hiker - the Hermit's Cell is an example of a Celtic beehive cell - home to an unknown hermit (probably attached to Iona Abbey). The walk to the cell is over rocky and marshy hills and difficult to find without a guide.

The Abbot's Hill

The Hill of the Abbot (Torr an Aba) is a large and very 'out of place' looking hill in front of the abbey, traditionally the place of St Columba's cell when he was abbot of the community there.

The Abbot's Hill

Dun I

Iona's highest point - Dun I is associated with St Briged (Bride) who is believed to have blessed the holy well when coming to visit Iona. The blessing waters signify new beginnings and hope in the salvation of Christ.

St Martin's Cross

St Martin's Cross is situated west of the main entrance to Iona Abbey, and is the original cross. It has stood undisturbed and undamaged on its plinth of pink granite since the 8th century. It was sculpted from a single slab of stone imported from the Argyll mainland sometime between AD 750 and 800. The side arms seem very short in proportion to the cross as a whole but the slots in the ends of the arms held wooden or metal decorative mounts.

St Martin's Cross

St Brendan's Cell

Visiting St Brendan's Isle (Eileach an Naoimh) we arrive at the cell of the great Celtic Saint - St Brendan the Navigator. The double beehive cells dating back to the time of the saint and his monastic community.

The Celtic Chapel

Another example of a Celtic chapel built from stone on the historic St Brendan's Isle.

The Celtic Chapel

St Eithne's Grave

Close to the beehive cell of St Brendan we will visit the grave enclosure traditionally associated with St Eithne, mother of St Columba

The Medieval Monastery

The site of the monastery under the leadership of St Brendan the Navigator on St Brendan's Isle.

The Repentance Cell

Tradition has it that this cell was the place where monks from the monastery went to repent before being returned to the normal monastic enclosure.

The Repentance Cell

Fingal's Cave

Moving to the Isle of Staffa, Fingal's Cave is a sea cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, known for its natural acoustics. The National Trust for Scotland owns the cave as part of a national nature reserve. The site inspired famous composer Mendelssohn's 'The Hebrides Overture'. It is also known as the 'giant's causeway' of Scotland.

Wild Bird Sanctuary - Puffins!

Staffa is known for it's wild bird sanctuary - in other words - Puffins! You will get very close to these strange but beautiful birds - a very rare opportunity indeed.

Wild Bird Sanctuary - Puffins!

St Kenneth's Cave

After arriving to Iona as one of the 12 monks accompanying St Columba, St Kenneth later withdrew to live as a hermit in this cave on the Island that ended up bearing his name.

St Kenneth's Monastery

These are the ruins of the monastery built or formed around St Kenneth.

St Kenneth's Monastery

ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation on the Isle of Mull

The Monastery does not have enough space to accommodate pilgrims at Kilninian itself. Instead, by the grace of God and through the generosity of our Founders, we can offer hospitality at the Dervaig house.

Although during the pilgrimage we will be exploring the various islands, this pilgrim house will be your 'home' for the duration of your stay on the Isle of Mull.

Dervaig is a beautiful village by the ocean, ten–fifteen minutes away from Kilninian. The house is newly built, overlooking the coast and enjoying uninterrupted views over the loch.

To pilgrim house in Dervaig has everything you will need for your stay. A kitchen, wifi, bedding, shared bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms etc.

Accommodation on the Isle of Iona

Our community established an Orthodox presence on Iona in the summer of 2022, when we purchased Iona Cottage. The new Monastery was canonically recognised by the Synod of the Metropolis of Southern and Western Europe (Romanian Patriarchate) in March 2023 and was dedicated to the Dormition of the Mother of God and all the Saints of Iona. It is now the permanent residence of our brothers. We always knew that we would one day have a permanent monastic presence on Iona. Spiritually, this is the ultimate fruit of our first Monastery on Mull and the fulfilment of St Columba’s prophecy about the return of the monks to Iona.

Symbolically, the Orthodox Monastery on Iona is the final act in reclaiming the Isles for Orthodox monasticism and provides the Monastic Community with immense opportunity for missionary work. Iona Cottage is a beautiful house from the early 1800s, located in the historic conservation area of Iona. The Monastery will accommodate part of our community, as well as providing our pilgrims with a unique opportunity to spend quiet, contemplative time on St Columba’s Holy Island. The Abbey, St Oran’s Chapel and Martyrs’ Bay are all just a few minutes walking distance from the Monastery.

Dates & Prices

Week 1


8 Places Left

Group 1

07/06/2025 - 14/06/2025
1,600 GBP
(300GBP deposit, 1,300GBP balance)

Week 2


9 Places Left

Group 2

28/06/2025 - 05/07/2025
1,600 GBP
(300GBP deposit, 1,300GBP balance)

Week 3


7 Places Left

Group 3

05/07/2025 - 12/07/2025
1,600 GBP
(300GBP deposit, 1,300GBP balance)

Week 4


11 Places Left

Group 4

19/07/2025 - 26/07/2025
1,600 GBP
(300GBP deposit, 1,300GBP balance)

Week 5


9 Places Left

Group 5

26/07/2025 - 02/08/2025
1,600 GBP
(300GBP deposit, 1,300GBP balance)

Week 6


11 Places Left

Group 6

02/08/2025 - 09/08/2025
1,600 GBP
(300GBP deposit, 1,300GBP balance)
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