May 3rd - 11th, 2024: guided by Walking Awake's Denise Crawn (former Columcille Board Member and Kirkridge employee) and her husband Nick Prance (former Isle of Iona resident). This pilgrimage is now SOLD OUT! To be placed on our waiting list, please contact Denise at
If you have a love of Celtic Spirituality and a curiosity about the connections between Kirkridge Retreat Center, Columcille Megalith Park, and the tiny Hebridean Island of Iona, Scotland: then this pilgrimage is for you!
The Isle of Iona is often referred to as a 'thin place'. It has long been a place of pilgrimage influencing art, music, poetry and religion across the ages. The history and myths surrounding Iona are both intriguing and inviting. Being on Iona for more than just a few days is the only way to truly get a sense of its energy.
Kirkridge and Columcille are also 'thin places' -- both with strong roots grounded in Iona -- all three are sacred, holy places.
Columcille's founder, William (Bill) H. Cohea was forever changed by the dreams and visions he experienced while on Iona. Together, Bill and his partner, Fred Lindkvist manifested these Iona encounters in the Columcille Megalith Park many know and love today.
Kirkridge's founder, John Oliver Nelson visited Iona and was inspired by the work of the Iona Community founder, George MacLeod. He returned home to the US with the vision of creating a similar community, from which Kirkridge was brought forth just over 80 years ago.
Walking Awake evolved out of Denise Crawn's experiences in Nature and love of Celtic Spirituality. Columcille, Kirkridge and Iona have played key roles in Denise's life journey. It has long been her heartfelt vision to see the stories of these three places continue to weave and grow for generations yet to come. Much like the Celtic knot of three interwoven threads, we as three distinct yet uniquely interlaced communites have commited to embark on a pilgrimage together. Our vision is to weave the lineage of our ever-expanding kinship with each other, with Nature, and with Iona.
We are especially excited to share that while on Iona, our accommodation will be at the Bishop's House. Built in 1884 and originally called "Saint Columba's House," Bishop's House is an Episcopalian retreat house with an open, warm hospitality extending to individuals and private groups whether or not they have a connection to any particular faith tradition.
We are delighted to have the opportunity to experience the exclusive use of Bishop's House as this will provide us with a welcoming open space to gather and to be free to create our own unique experience.
On our way to Iona, we will spend a day exploring the Kilmartin Valley and its many ancient sites and standing stones concluding our day with an overnight hotel stay in the harbor town of Oban.
While on Iona we will visit its many sacred sites including those connected to Columcille Megalith Park by name such as: the Hill of the Signal,
the Glen of the Temple, Dun-I and Brighid's Well. We will also visit: Columba's Bay, the Hermit's Cell, the Nunnery ruins, the Oran Chapel and Iona Abbey (where John Oliver Nelson was so deeply inspired). We will delve into and explore the stories of Columba, Oran, Brighid, Vikings, Monks, Nuns, Bill Cohea and Fred Lindkvist of Columcille Megalith Park, and John Oliver Nelson of Kirkridge Retreat Center.
From "The Beginning to the Beginning!" (as Bill Cohea used to say) we will weave our connections to this sacred isle as individuals, and as a community.
We'd love to share this magical journey with you!
If you are interested in joining us on this pilgrimage, we do recommend you consider securing your registration early as we suspect it will fill fast.
More about the Bishop's House:
Location and Accommodation:
Bishop's House is in an ideal location being a short walk from the ferry, Iona Abbey, the Nunnery and the Village. As a retreat house, Bishop's House provides simple, comfortable accommodation with shared bathrooms (not ensuite) each with a tub or shower. All bedrooms are up one flight of stairs (a chair lift is available for those in need). Bedroom assignments will be two people to a room in twin beds. There will be a limited number of single rooms available at an extra cost on a first reserve-basis.
Meals at the Bishop's House:
All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) for our week on Iona (starting with dinner on May 4th, ending with breakfast on May 11th) are included during our stay at Bishop's House and are prepared by the lovely staff. Meals are home-cooked, simple yet wholesome and hearty traditional Scottish-fare served family style (fish, meat, poultry, vegetables, potatoes, soups, salads, homemade bread). Vegetarian, gluten-free, and other dietary specific meal are available (pre-ordered) upon request. Tea and coffee are always within reach. And, as is often requested by retreat houses: guests are kindly asked to help set up and clear away dishes from the table, as well as help with a few very simple housekeeping tasks before we depart.
Inside Bishop's House:
The open communal space of the Bishop's House is warm and cozy with a spacious lounging area providing a gorgeous view of the Sound of Iona, a library with an open fire, and located in the center of the building is the beautiful St. Columba Chapel, open to all and a special space for quiet reflection.
Arriving in Scotland:
Your transportation to Scotland is not included in this pilgrimage. We highly recommend you arrive (at least) a day prior to May 3rd just in case you encounter travel delays along the way. It also helps shake the jet-lag and may even provide you time to explore a little of Glasgow prior to meeting as a group to begin our pilgrimage.
Our first day together:
Our journey will commence on the morning of Friday, May 3rd, 2024 when we meet at the Holiday Inn EXPRESS at the Glasgow Airport. Together we will board our private hire bus for a day filled with adventure. We will wend our way through the Highlands and Islands until we arrive at our destination for the day: the Kilmartin Glen. Here we will spend our time amongst its many rock carvings, standing stones, and Neolithic and Bronze Age burial cairns. Once the Kingdom of the Dal Riata (kin of Columba), we will first stop at Dunadd, a 2000 year old hill fort where Kings were once anointed and where you will have the opportuninty to take in the stunning views and literally stand in the footsteps of Kings and Saints!
While in Kilmartin, you will have the opportunity to walk amongst its impressive standing stones inlcuding the stone circles of Temple Wood, and enter ancient burial chambers. There will also be time to visit the Kilmartin Parish Church; a gothic style church dated back to 1835 (in its Kirk yard lies incredible medival tomb slabs featuring carvings of knights and Celtic symbols) and Kilmartin's newly refurbished museum and cafe. After our day in Kilmartin is complete we will once again board our bus and make our way to Oban (know as the 'gateway to the isles'). Here we will settle into our accommodation at the Muthu Alexander Hotel where you can choose to enjoy the pool and sauna, rest, or head out for individual sightseeing or shopping. Around 7:30 this evening we will gather for our group-booked meal at an atmospheric and delicious restaurant by the water side.
The next morning, Saturday, May 4th
After breakfast there will be time for individuals to further explore Oban before our group regathers to board the ferry to Craignure on the isle of Mull. This beautiful 45 minute sail with picturesque views rovides a great opportunity to capture amazing photos. Upon arriving in Crainure, we will board a public bus and make our way across the majestic Isle of Mull to Fionnphort where upon arrival, we will catch our final 15 minute ferry over the turquoise blue Sound of Iona to the Isle of Iona.
After setting foot on Iona, our luggage will be picked up and we will all walk to our home-away-from-home for the week, the Bishop's House. After settling in, and after a brief walk/introduction to the island, we will gather for our fist evening meal on Iona followed by and evening group session. .
A more detailed itinerary and description of guided walks, informative group sessions and other activities during our time on Iona will be provided upon registration.
$2700.00 per person if registered by September 15th, 2023
After September 15th, 2023: the price increases to $3000.00 per person
A non-refundable deposit of $700.00 per person will reserve your place.
A small number of single rooms are available at an additional cost (see below)
THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT!
Place your deposit or make a payment in full:
Prior to registration:
- Please contact Denise Crawn at
- All reservations at above costs are shared accommodation (two to a room).
- Limited single room accommodation (in both Oban and on Iona) are available on a first-reserve basis for an additional $500.00 per person. If you'd like to secure a single room, we highly recommend early registration.
- All individuals must fill out and sign Walking Awake's liability release forms, provide important medical information, obtain and provide proof of individual travel insurance and agree to Walking Awake's Terms and Agreements/Cancelation Policy which is listed on the Walking Awake website www.walkingawake.com
Payment schedule is as follows:
October 15th, 2023: $750.00 due
December 15th, 2023: $750.00 due
February 2nd, 2024: Balance due-in-full.
Depending on availability: All registrations received after February 2nd, 2024 must be paid in full upon registering to secure individual's place on this journey.
All payments are to be made to Walking Awake via PayPal (link can be found on the Walking Awake homepage)
- Private bus pick-up from the Holiday Inn EXPRESS at Glasgow at 8:00 AM on May 3rd. Private bus journey includes a day-trip to Kilmartin with an early evening drop-off at Muthu Alexandra Hotel in Oban.
- Return ferry transport: Oban/Craignure, Fionnphort/Iona (May 4th/May 11th, 2024)
- Return public bus: Craignure/Fionnphort (May 4th/May 11th, 2024)
- Train from Oban to Glasgow Queen Street Station on Saturday, May 11th, 2024 (time TBA)
- 1 night shared accommodation at Muthu Alexander Hotel in Oban
- 7 nights shared accommodation on Iona at the Bishop’s House
- Breakfast on Saturday, May 4th, 2024 at Muthu Alexandra Hotel
- All Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinners during stay at Bishop’s House on Iona
- Week-long admission to Iona Abbey and Museum
- Guide(s) and bus driver fees.
- All reservations include a $150.00 per reservation donation to be shared equally between Columcille Megalith Park and Kirkridge Retreat Center.
- Airfare (we suggest you arrive at least a day prior to our meeting in case of delays)
- Any travel or accommodation prior to or following the dates of our trip
- Evening group-booked meal in Oban and all other meals not listed as included
- (Optional) Group-booked boat trip to Staffa £30pp
- Individual travel insurance for all eventualities (REQUIRED)
- Options not listed above
- Optional tips for bus driver, guides, or other services
- Any unforeseen/additional costs incurred due to travel delays within our pilgrimage (see below)
Arrival in Scotland: We suggest you consider planning to arrive in Scotland at least 24 hours prior to our scheduled group pick-up time on Friday, May 3rd - just in case you encounter flight or any other travel delays preventing you from arriving at 8:00am at the Holiday Inn EXPRESS at the Glasgow Airport.
In the rare event that we might possibly encounter travel delays within our journey (such as weather, ferries not running, train or bus delays/issues, etc.) each individual is responsible for any and all additional costs incurred including but not limited to accommodation and meals. Fortunately this has not yet occured in all our years of running trips to Iona (see Walking Awake's Terms and Agreements for further details).
Flying Home: Because of the possibility of unforeseen travel delays within our journey, we highly suggest that you do not book your return flight reservations until (at least) later in the evening on Sunday, May 12th (or even a day or two later).
Wish to spend more time in Scotland?:
If you have an interest in further exploring Scotland while you are here, you may also wish to consider joining us (prior to our pilgrimage to Iona) on our Orkney Odyssey April 25th - 30th, 2024. If you do choose to join us for both, this would allow you a few free days in between to embark on self-guided time at other sites in the Edinburgh and Glasgow area. For more information about our Orkney Odyssey visit the Pilgrimage and Sacred Travel page on this website. Note: We currently have 4 spaces available on our Orkney Odyssey pilgrimage.