John Muir Way
211 km / 131 miles
Argyll and Bute, E Dunbarton, E Lothian, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Midlothian, N Lanark, Stirling, W Dunbarton, W Lothian
Launched on 21st April 2014 to coincide with the Muir centenary, with a new guide book and accompanying folded map published by Rucksack Readers in April 2014, also available as a package.
The new John Muir Way runs for 134 miles (215 km) coast-to-coast across Scotland's centre, from Helensburgh on the Clyde to Dunbar on the North Sea. The route is as suitable for cyclists as for walkers, and it can be tackled as a coast-to-coast expedition or in sections - ten for walkers or five for cyclists. It was developed by Scottish Natural Heritage and is due to be launched by Scotland's First Minister as part of the John Muir Festival in April 2014.
Its appeal ranges from the domestic architecture of Helensburgh (passing Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Hill House) through the scenic grandeur of Loch Lomond, along two famous canals and past the amazing Falkirk Wheel, beside the Roman Antonine Wall, passing Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle and the Forth Bridges to the glories of Edinburgh. It finishes on the wide coastal expanses of East Lothian, at Dunbar with its ruined castle and John Muir’s birthplace cottage.
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 new John Muir Way builds on the original shorter route of the same name that was a 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. From Dundar to Cockburnspath the previous path is now named the John Muir Link.
Publications, Badges and Certificates:
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