A NEW north Lancashire business has been created to take people on spiritual journeys around the UK and Europe.

Lancaster University religious studies masters graduate Andrew Walker is taking his experience and passion for pilgrimages to help others visit sites of spirituality – such as monasteries and retreat centres.

Andrew, 36, who lives in the city, has started Metapilgrim to provide guided spiritual tours to individuals, organisations and to school groups.

He has travelled extensively to spiritual sites in Europe and believes there is a growing interest among the wider public in spirituality and pilgrimage, as demonstrated by the popularity of recent BBC television series such as The Monastery, The Big Silence, and Pilgrimage by Simon Reeve.

Metapilgrim will be taking its first travellers – a group from Lancaster University’s Chaplaincy Centre - to Taizé this summer.

Other locations he is offering as destinations include Iona, in Scotland, Lindisfarne, in Northumbria, and the New Valamo monastery in Finland.

“Television programmes are certainly helping to generate wider interest in visiting sites of spirituality," said Andrew. "Some people are inspired by this and are seeking out similar experiences for themselves.

“We have a declining church attendance. The existing model for spiritual reflection or discovery isn’t sustaining itself anymore, but the festivals and events are growing. People are looking at other options and visits to monasteries across Europe are increasing.

“The monasteries are not offering a prescriptive form of belief, they offer spaces for silent reflection and spiritual development, away from the distractions of modern life, and I think more people are finding that option interesting.”