walkhighlands

Scotland's Great Trails

The John Muir Way

This new long distance path stretches from coast to coast across Scotland, passing through the varied landscapes of the central belt. The route is named after the Dunbar-born conservationist John Muir, who emigrated to America whilst still a boy and became the father of the American National Parks and a key figure in the conservation movement; it opens in 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Muir's death.

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

The Trail will officially open in April 2014; waymarking is currently underway but is incomplete - much-needed path improvements are also planned for the first stage.

Note that the new John Muir Way replaces - and incorporates most of - the former route of the same name which traversed East Lothian. We've included an extension to the easternmost extremity of East Lothian to enable a link to be made with the Berwickshire Coastal Path and the Southern Upland Way.

Stage descriptions Length Time
Stage 1: Helensburgh to Balloch 14.5km 4 - 4.5 hours
Stage 2: Balloch to Strathblane 29km 7 - 9 hours
Stage 3: Strathblane to Croy 20.75km 5 - 6 hours
Stage 4: Croy to Falkirk 20 5 - 6 hours
Stage 5: Falkirk to Linlithgow 15km 4 - 5 hours
Stage 6: Linlithgow to South Queensferry 24km 6 - 7.5 hours
Stage 7: South Queensferry to Edinburgh 25km 6.5 - 7.5 hours
Stage 8: Edinburgh to Prestonpans 15.75km 4 - 4.5 hours
Stage 9: Prestonpans to North Berwick 25km 6 - 7.5 hours
Stage 10: North Berwick to Dunbar 23km 5 - 5.5 hours
Extension: Dunbar to Dunglass 15km 4.5 - 5 hours

THE CHALLENGE

The route is waymarked and offers fairly straightforward walking throughout, with a some steeper sections, except for the first stage which currently has one very steep and muddy stretch (improvements to this are planned).

ACCOMMODATION AND SERVICES ALONG THE WAY

As it rus through the central belt, much of the John Muir Trail passes through a series of towns and villages, with services and accommodation available.

Helensburgh and Balloch both offer a choice of hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation, as well as shops for supplies. Croftamie - midway through the second stage - is a small hamlet with a pub serving meals and accommodation.

Strathblane, Lennoxtown and Milton of Campsie offer shops as well as places to stay and eat.

There is limited accommodation near Croy, with links to . The route then links up a series of towns, all of which provide full facilities - , Linlithgow, Bo'ness and South Queensferry.

The route runs through much of Edinburgh although it avoids the central area; a short detour from the Meadows leads to plentiful hotels and all services.

Musselburgh, an ancient town though now so close to the fringe of Edinburgh. As would be expected, it offers shopping and a range of accommodation, though also easy to reach from Edinburgh or Leith.

Accommodation in Prestonpans, Cockenzie and Port Seton is more limited, but there is bed and breakfast available - as well as good public transport links back to Edinburgh.

Aberlady has both a hotel and inn, whilst Gullane has a further choice.

North Berwick is a town with all services, including a choice of B&B and hotels.

The next stage is a long one, though East Linton offers both accommodation and shops and offers a chance to break the journey.

Journey's end is reached at the town of Dunbar, again offering a choice of both hotels and guest houses as well as shops for supplies.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

The John Muir Way is generally well served by public transport links.

Helensburgh and Balloch both have train as well as bus links to Glasgow. Strathblane, Lennoxtown, Milton of Campsie and Kirkintilloch all have bus services; there is a railway station at Croy.

Bonnybridge is well served by buses, and more rail stations is passed at Falkirk High and Polmont.

Linlithgow has regular rail services as well as buses, whilst Bo'ness is well served by bus. South Queensferry is served by Dalmeny Station with regular trains between Edinburgh and Glenrothes.

Edinburgh obviously has excellent public transport. Musselburgh, Prestonpans, Longniddry, North Berwick, East Linton and Dunbar are all served by rail from Edinburgh.

There is also a FirstGroup service that runs from Edinburgh via Musselburgh, Prestonpans, Longniddry, Aberlady and Gullane to North Berwick. A second service links Edinburgh to Dunbar, via East Linton.

The end of the route is the hardest point to reach by public transport, but there is a service that links Dunbar with Cockburnsfoot.

Timetables for all the routes can be found on Traveline Scotland.


The following users have walked the John Muir Way:

Paul Webster  helenw  Knocknairn 

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Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each walker's responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.