The John Muir Way

It is often said that Scotland’s greatest export is its people. Born in Dunbar in 1838, John Muir – geologist, mountaineer, inventor, ecologist, philosopher and (according to his friend, the poet Ralph Waldo Emmerson) the ‘John the Baptist of The Wild’John Muir Way Landscapeis (surprisingly) little known in his native Scotland. Emigrating with his family to Portage, Wisconsin, in 1849, he would find great fame within his lifetime as a passionate environmentalist – and is hailed to this day as the ‘Father of the National Parks movement’. He once said: “I could have become a millionaire, but chose instead to become a tramp.”

Opened by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond on Monday 21st April 2014 – as part of a festival of events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the great man’s death - the 134-mile John Muir Way celebrates Muir's passion for the outdoors. It is estimated that 195,000 people will attempt to walk or cycle a section of the seven- to 10-day Way over the next five years.

The route reverses Muir's steps from Helensburgh on the west coast - from where he boarded ship and set sail for America - to his birthplace in Dunbar. Beginning with a walk over the hills to reach the fabulous landscapes of Loch Lomond, the Way then follows old minor roads and disused railway lines to traverse rural, farming landscapes in the shadow of the Campsie Fells and along the Forth and Clyde canal, following the towpath through the mix of industrial and urban landscapes at heart of Scotland - offering occasional Muir's Way Walking Tourdiversions from the water to visit significant sites along the Antonine Wall – then on to Linlithgow, and to reach the Forth at Bo'ness, and along the coast beneath the Forth Bridge and Edinburgh, before returning to the coastline as it heads into the more rural landscapes of East Lothian, ending at Muir's Dunbar birthplace.

Mike Cantlay, the chairman of VisitScotland, said: “The route takes visitors on a journey to areas they may have never experienced before, opening up the countryside for people to explore tranquil nature reserves, medieval castles, Roman ruins, hidden rivers and much more.”

The Stirling GhostWalk’s David Kinnaird participated in festivities honouring Muir’s legacy, scripting and performing a short drama for the Friends of Loch Lomond David Kinnaird, Donald Nelson, John Muir Meets Tom Weir& The Trossachs, imagining a meeting between the aged Muir and the late Glasgow-born environmentalist, mountaineer and broadcaster, Tom Weir – born the year Muir died – atop Gowkhill, on Saturday 26th April 2014.

A lady on the top of the hill said "I bet this is the oddest thing you've ever done as an actor!" She seemed a little taken aback when he said that - as he was about to transform into an undead 18th-century comedy-torturer in the back of a car, speeding back to Stirling for that evening's GhostWalk - climbing a hill as an elderly environmentalist wasn't even going to be the oddest thing he'd done as an actor THAT DAY!

Further Information

For details of the John Muir Way visit http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/john-muir-way.shtml  For details of the Friends of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs go to http://www.lochlomondtrossachs.org.uk

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