scone - St Andrews (via Balmerino)

From Coast to Coast

Route length: 37 miles

A church or sacred site

Destination hub

Round Tower, Abernethy

This is one of the two Celtic round towers in Scotland, the other being at Brechin. This one was probably built in the later 11th century for a Celtic monastery. The present top was restored in 1868 when the clock face was inserted. The building is now in the care of Historic Scotland.


Parish Church of St Athernase, Leuchars

St Columba’s Roman Catholic Church, Cupar

The Scottish Episcopal Church of St James the Great, Cupar

St John’s Parish Church, Cupar

Cupar Old and St Michael of Tarvit Parish Church

The former Moonzie Parish Church

Kilmany Parish Church

Gauldry Church of Scotland

Balmerino Parish Church

Criech Parish Church

The former Dunbog Parish Church. Dunbog

Abdie Parish Church

The former St Magridin’s Church, Abdie

Newburgh Parish Church

Abernethy and Dron Parish Church, Abernethy

By Road

First go back into Perth and then leave by the A912, turning left onto the A913 to reach Newburgh. Branch left off the A913 as you leave Newburgh to take the coast road to Balmerino, and then continue on to join the A914 north of Leuchars. At the junction take the A919 into Leuchars. Continue to Guardbridge.
From Guardbridge take the A91 into St Andrews.

By Cycle

Return to Perth.
An NCN route is planned for the future to go from Perth to Newburgh. Meantime, follow quieter streets until joining the A912 at Friarton. Stay on the A912 until Bridge of Earn. Here branch right for Newbigging and there turn left. Cross over the A912 onto the A913 to Newburgh.
From Newburgh follow NCN 777 along the coast past Balmerino abbey. When you meet the B946 either go left to follow NCN777 right round the coast and down to Leuchars or go right and then keep left. This leads you to the A919 and Leuchars.
From Leuchars follow NCN 777 to St Andrews.

By Foot

Walkers can cut off at Bridge of Earn, going past Culfargie to reach Abernethy (5 miles).
They can also explore The Old Road to Macduff's Cross
 http://www.heritagepaths.co.uk/pathdetails.php?path=92 (1.4 miles each way)
and the Balmerino Quarry road (6.5 miles) http://www.heritagepaths.co.uk/pathdetails.php?path=34 leading from Balmerino towards Guardbridge. Most of NCN 777 from Guardbridge to St Andrews is segregated from traffic.

By Public Transport

There are railway stations at Perth and Leuchars.
There are buses from Old Scone to Perth and from Perth to Newburgh. This service carries on to Freuchie from where you can change for Letham and Newport on Tay, or for Cupar, Ceres and St Andrews.

Public transport information can be found on the Traveline website.

Crossing the Tay and travelling the last leg to St Andrews you are following the path of kings, queens, hermits, and thousands of ordinary people through the medieval centuries. The monastic round tower at Abernethy points your way.

A direct route takes you by the market town of Cupar and its historic churches. Alternatively, staying close to the river by Newburgh you visit the peaceful monastery ruins of Balmerino. By Leuchars and Guardbridge you see your destination- a cluster of towers and spires where Scotland meets Europe by the salt-crested sea. Pilgrims, ancient and modern, are drawn to this spot where rock abuts the ocean, and time meets eternity.

In the journey and in the arrival
In the finding and in the leaving
In the knowing and in the unknowable
In the past and in the present
In love and death,
Life's mystery is born.

By land and sea
by boat and train and plane
May the cross of Andrew
go with you
and the faith of the Apostles
be your guide and comfort.

We would love to hear about your experiences on this route - please post your comments below