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John Muir Way east to west: A work in progress

John Muir Way east to west: A work in progress


Postby nitamiriam » Sun Aug 11, 2019 2:24 am

Route description: John Muir Way

Date walked: 14/07/2019

Time taken: 2 days

Distance: 48 km

Ascent: 187m

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I’m walking the John Muir Way one day at a time, making use of public transport to and from Edinburgh. I will be updating this post whenever I complete another stage.

I decided to walk the route from east to west – in my brain starting from John Muir’s birthplace and walking towards America makes sense. :D It also means that I’m starting with the more familiar (to me) East Lothian part of the route and finishing in an area I haven’t seen much of before.

My progress so far:
Stage 1. Dunbar to North Berwick
Stage 2. North Berwick to Prestonpans

Stage 1: Dunbar to North Berwick (aka Ramsons, ladybugs and first sunburn of the year)

Date: 09.04.2019
Distance: 14 mi / 23 km

A new advanture awaits, and this time I'll be carrying only a light daypack! I catch a morning train from Edinburgh to Dunbar, looking forward to a sunny spring day of walking. (I don’t know it yet, but I will also acquire my first sunburn of the year!)

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The statue of John Muir, Dunbar


I love the first bit of the walk along the shoreline with its dramatic red and scraggly rocks. The last daffodils of the year add a splash of colour to the walk here too, as do the gorse bushes. (The gorse always smells so nice – like coconut biscuits - that I need to stop for a sniff every time I pass. :lol:)

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Gorse ♥


There are a lot of friendly dogs out and about with their humans. I also spot a couple of emus (!) as the path passes the East Links family park and a pair of swans flies overhead. Along the River Tyne I see a lot of ladybugs and pick some wild ramsons to stuff inside my sandwich. Yum!

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River Tyne


Past East Linton, the path passes some sort of waste management site. The smell is so rank I almost run through the area. :sick: A small wooded area further along offers welcome respite (and looks very pretty with large patches of primroses).

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Approaching North Berwick, the path crosses some large fields. I have time to spare, so decide to walk up North Berwick Law to punish my legs a bit more. Finally, I head to the village (and witness a spirited fray between a squirrel and a crow on the way), eat another snack by the beach and catch a train back to Edinburgh.

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On North Berwick Law

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Stage 2: North Berwick to Prestonpans (aka Castle-exploring and paddling in the sparkling sea)

Date: 14.07.2019
Distance: 15.5 mi / 25 km

I board the 9.43 am train from Edinburgh to North Berwick. (The train is full of people, later I find out that they’re all headed to the Scottish Open golf tournament in Gullane.)

I start walking around 10 am. The path first skirts golf courses and plantations and crosses a big field. I have my first snack break by some amazing near-horizontal trees! :D

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I arrive in Dirleton around noon and explore the Dirleton Castle for about an hour. The place is fascinating and the gardens are really lovely – recommended. (By this time, it’s gotten so hot that I have go and get changed in the public toilets.)

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Dirleton Castle

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Not far until Gullane now. There’s a long section on the road, which feels like wasted potential. There are some really nice walks by the sea in Yellow Craigs, Gullane and Aberlady, and I wonder why the JMW doesn’t incorporate some of them? Ah well, I’m sure there’s a very good reason for it – but knowing what’s out there makes the road sections feel even more uninspiring. :-?

In Gullane, I walk in circles for a little while before I figure out the correct turn out of the village using my map (I can’t see a signpost anywhere). The path skirts yet another golf course, but there are butterflies, pretty yellow-and-black caterpillars, bees and meadow flowers so it’s ok. :)

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Too soon it’s time to join another road. I stop at a car park by Aberlady Bay to air my feet for a bit (it’s positively tropical by now). Then a short section passes through a very special bit of woodland with a row of large concrete blocks from WWII. It's so lovely I’m tempted to dawdle here a bit.

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Aberlady Bay

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But there’ll be plenty more things to tempt me! At Gosford sands I get off the path and walk down to the beach. I just about manage resist the temptation to stuff my pockets with sea shells. I do take lots of arty-farty close-up photos of seaweed, shells and rocks though. :lol:

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Gosford Sands


At Seton Sands I abandon the official path again to walk on the beach. The weather is too gorgeous not to. At low tide, a lot of rocks with a covering of brilliant green seaweed manes are exposed. They look almost huggable, like cute hairy green monsters. :-D

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Paddling in the water is heaven for my tired, sweaty feet. As I get closer to the village, I find the official path again and walk the last bit to Prestonpans. It’s such a perfect summer day. A group of folk musicians is playing in a pub by the path with a window wide open, and I want to stay and listen. But alas, I need to go and catch the 26 back to Edinburgh.

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Cockenzie Harbour

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Last edited by nitamiriam on Mon Aug 19, 2019 7:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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nitamiriam
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Re: John Muir Way east to west: A work in progress

Postby Gordie12 » Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:20 pm

Hi - hope you enjoy the rest of your walk (some more tarmac to come but some great canal walking and scenery as well).

It's a couple of years now since I did this (in a May heatwave) and I remember thinking at the time that it would be better with a bike. That said, still a very enjoyable walk with very few people doing the entire route. From memory I saw a group of 4 Americans in 5 days and the rest were all dog walkers etc.

You applied some serious logic in to where to start and finish - I just robotically looked at the guidebook.

Hopefully the weather is good on the future days you choose.
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Re: John Muir Way east to west: A work in progress

Postby nitamiriam » Mon Aug 12, 2019 2:42 am

Thank you, Gordie!

There are a few sections I quite look forward to. And I'm getting excited about autumn walking (my second favourite season after spring). :D
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nitamiriam
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Posts: 16
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Location: Edinburgh

Re: John Muir Way east to west: A work in progress

Postby paulgarb » Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:58 pm

I do hope you get back to this after lockdown. I’ve done the John Muir Way the same way you have started, bit by bit about 3 years ago. I did it in reverse order of sections but In the ‘right’ direction - so North Berwick to Dunbar first, etc. I loved it and there are many highlights - the huts at Carbeth, the Falkirk Wheel, the Avon viaduct are moments I’ll remember but there are many more.

I’m thinking about doing it again - right direction, west to east, in one go - when lockdown is done.

Anyway good luck and enjoy the delights to come
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