Elaine Macintosh, John Muir Way Development Officer of Central Scotland Green Network Trust explains the extent of the John Muir Way and the opportunities it offers.
When I first heard about the John Muir Way, I’d no idea it passed so close to my home. As almost half of Scotland’s population live within ten miles of this long distance route, I suspect I’m not alone!
One of Scotland’s Great Trails – and one of Central Scotland’s great adventures – the John Muir Way stretches 134 miles coast to coast across the country’s heartland, linking the best of the area’s landscapes and heritage. Running between Helensburgh in the west and Dunbar in the east, it takes in Scotland’s first National Park Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, the Kilpatrick Hills, the Antonine Wall and its Roman forts, the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals, the Falkirk Wheel, Linlithgow Palace, the Forth Bridges, capital city Edinburgh, castles, estates, woodlands, stunning coastline and John Muir’s birthplace museum in Dunbar. It is a route of surprising diversity and contrast.
The route commemorates John Muir, the great conservationist who was born in Dunbar in 1838 and whose work led to formation of America’s National Parks and protection of wild places.
The John Muir Way is well-served by a wide range of facilities and offers an excellent introduction to long distance walking (9-11 days) and cycling (4-5 days). Terrain is mostly easy to moderate, with some more challenging upland stretches. For cyclists, much of the route is off-road and a mountain, hybrid or very sturdy touring bike is recommended. Good public transport links mean the route can be easily completed in sections or day trips. An end-to-end expedition offers, in the words of one walker from the USA, ‘an adventure of a lifetime’. Being close to so many people, it is popular as a charity challenge.
The John Muir Way has secured funding for a 2-year Marketing and Business Engagement Officer, so exciting times lie ahead as we develop plans to encourage greater use of the route and work with tourism businesses to highlight the economic opportunities of the John Muir Way.
The John Muir Way offers opportunities for more than just a long distance expedition: such as local communities getting involved in ‘Planting for Pollinators along the John Muir Way’; and heritage projects like the John Muir Artists Residency. A John Muir Way Activity Guide contains ideas and resources to help groups and individuals explore the John Muir Way and increase understanding of John Muir’s legacy by getting closer to nature.