Author: Helen Todd

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Thursday, May 8th, 2014 at 11:50 am
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Exploring Scotland on the John Muir Way

Scotland’s latest long-distance route, the John Muir Way, was launched in April, and there are currently a series of events taking place this summer along the length of the route to promote the John Muir Way, both to people living nearby and further afield.  

The new route, running for 134 miles coast-to-coast, from Dunbar to Helensburgh, is designed to take people on a journey, from John Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar, to Scotland’s first National Park at Loch Lomond, and then on to the west coast from where John Muir set sail to go to the United States as a teenager. John Muir is famous as the founding father of the worldwide national parks movement and is well-known in the United States for establishing Yosemite National Park and the influential Sierra Club organisation. The John Muir Way has opened to mark the 100th anniversary of his death, and pays tribute to his legacy.

The route has specifically been designed to pass close to where the majority of Scotland’s population lives. You can explore the coastal areas of East Lothian, the cultural heritage of the industrial Central Belt, where the canals used to feature for industry and are now used for recreation, and the wilds of the west and the National Park itself. Within the Lothians, the route uses the former John Muir Way which had been developed around the East Lothian coast, and then passes through Edinburgh, along the Firth of Forth and into Linlithgow.

It’s hoped that the John Muir Way will be used for local people living in the Central Belt as the basis for short, local walks near to where they live, enabling more people to explore their local areas using the route and the paths which link it to the surrounding countryside. However, it can also be used as an inspirational coast-to-coast, long distance walk lasting for around 7-10 days, or a long weekend trip by bicycle.  Whilst much of the route already existed on the ground it wasn’t entirely joined up, but now missing links have been developed and the route is easy to find with new signage and promotional materials.

For individual walkers, there’s a great new website http://johnmuirway.org/ with information on the route itself, day trips and detours from the route, plus public transport and accommodation along the Way. And once you’ve tried the John Muir Way, remember that there are a number of other long distance routes in the Lothians which are within a few miles of the John Muir Way or link to it, such as the Water of Leith Walkway, River Avon Heritage Trail, Union Canal and the Round the Forth cycle trail (National Cycle Route 75). If you’d like to go further afield, don’t forget that the John Muir Way is just one of 27 official long distance routes in Scotland; see http://www.scotlandsgreattrails.org/ for more information.

If you’d like to try the new route in some good company, Ramblers groups based along the route have organised a variety of walks within their regular walks programmes which involve walking sections of the John Muir Way. You can find more information at:

http://www.ramblers.org.uk/scotland/go-walking/john-muir-way-festival/join-a-ramblers-walk-to-explore-the-john-muir-way.aspx

Scottish Book Trust, Creative Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage have created an A4 graphic novel about the life of John Muir, which has been sent to every secondary school in Scotland. Our picture shows Megan Smith Ruth Page and Heather Cameron from Dunbar Grammar School enjoying an advance read of the John Muir graphic novel in the ruins of Dunbar Castle, one of the famous conservationist’s childhood haunts.

 

 

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