John Muir Way
72 km / 45 miles
The John Muir Way is a new coastal path developed by East Lothian Council stretching south from Musselburgh (close to Edinburgh) to the East Lothian border near Cocksburnpath, so essentially linking the capital with the Southern Upland Way, Scotland's longest official LDP. It is not to be confused with the John Muir Trail in California, which is a very different matter.
While hardly itself a wilderness experience, the John Muir Way honours one of the County’s most famous sons born in Dunbar, the iconic writer on the natural world and later American conservation campaigner and founder of the Sierra Club who was a prime-mover in the establishment of the USA's National Park system. After emigrating Muir lived through a seminal period in the USA to which his ideas made a major contribution. In a country of pioneers intent on taming and exploiting the wilderness and displacing its indigenous peoples, the initial radical ideas of conservation were alien to many. These gave way to a more complex debate between the purist view of conservation and a utilitarian view that saw a need to balance economic use and preservation. In 1890, in large part due to Muir's efforts, Yosemite, Sequoia and General Grant in California were declared as Parks under President Benjamin Harrison. Muir's words and deeds helped inspire the designation of many more wilderness areas under the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt, himself a lover of the outdoors and a champion of wilderness, but Muir's final lengthy campaigns to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite from drowning with a dam construction on the Tuolumne river ended in failure when Congress sanctioned the project in 1913 in Roosevelt's term of office, and Muir died in the following year, though his ideas live on.
The John Muir Way offers generally easy walking and part of it passes through the John Muir Country Park (1,760 acres managed by East Lothian Council on the western side of Dunbar). In Dunbar is a memorial to Muir, East Lothian's 'Man of the Millennium' and an exhibition and visitor centre at his birthplace, with pages on the Lothian website. The Way includes much of East Lothian's varied coastline, with beaches, cliffs, sandstone arches and dunes, and the lowland below the Lammermuir Hills, with rivers, waterfalls and woods. There is ruined Dunbar castle, salt pans at Prestonpans, and many harbours and fishing ports. Seabirds, hare and deer are among the wildlife to be seen.
The five sections of the Way have free explanatory leaflets available from local TICs or directly from East Lothian Council: starting in the west from Fisherrow Harbour (Musselburgh) to Cockenzie (9.6km), and Cockenzie to Aberlady (8.5km, significant road stretches near Aberlady), Aberlady to North Berwick (15km), North Berwick to Dunbar (24km) and finally from Dunbar (JM's Birthplace) to Dunglass (15.6km), near Cockburnspath in the Scottish Borders. These leaflets can be downloaded by clicking on the second webpage link below.
The John Muir Way is signposted with green named signs and can be tackled in short sections or as part of a circular walk, as there are many other paths linking into it. The Way is named on the latest OS Explorer maps except between Gullanne (NT462827) and East Linton (NT590775). Public transport is also available at many points along the route to return you to your starting point.
There is a separate booklet of shorter walks based on the Way available by post (no download, but some shorter walks leaflets can be downloaded).
There is a short walking link from the John Muir Way to Cockburnspath, where the Southern Upland Way ends, and from the westernmost end of the John Muir Way at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh, roadside pavements reach the City of Edinburgh's Waterfront Promenade, and thus to link to Edinburgh.
The John Muir Way forms part of NORTRAIL - the North Sea Coastal Path Project. This aims to link footpaths and sites around the coast of the countries bordering the North Sea. The long-term goal is to inspire local people and visitors to explore the coastal landscapes of these countries.
Tracklogs Route shows link path into Cockburnspath and the Southern Upland Way.
|Path Type:||Scotland's Great Trails|
NT334729 - Fisherrow Harbour, Musselburgh, East Lothian
NT769722 - County Boundary, near Cocksburnpath, East Lothian
|Web Sites:||East Lothian Council Website - John Muir Way information|
|Visit East Lothian - Downloadable Schematic Maps of route|
|John Muir Trust Website|
Publications, Badges and Certificates:
|Leaflets:||John Muir Way (East Lothian Council - 2006)|
|Booklet:||John Muir Way: 14 Short Walks (East Lothian Council)|
|Hardback:||Muir and More (Millrace Books - 2008)|
|Purchase Ordnance Survey Maps (path is named on OS maps):|
|OS Landranger:||66, 67|
|OS Explorer:||350, 351|
|OS Explorer Active:||350, 351|
|Path Highlights:||John Muir Way Highlights|
|Scotland's Great Trails:||Southern Upland Way|
|Significant un-waymarked paths:||Central Scottish Way|
|Other Paths:||North Sea Trail (British North East Coast Section)|
|GPS Exchange Format Route File:||John Muir Way GPX Exchange Format Route File||Login to Download
|MemoryMap Route file:||John Muir Way Memory Map Route File||Login to Download
|Tracklogs Route file:||John Muir Way Tracklogs Route file||Login to Download
|70.8 Km (44.0 miles)
593 m (1,946 ft) ascent
66 m (217 ft) maximum height