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John Muir Way east to west: A work in progress

PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 2:24 am
by nitamiriam
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!)

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:)




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!

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).


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.

On North Berwick Law


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



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.)

Dirleton Castle


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. :)


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.

Aberlady Bay


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:

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




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.

Cockenzie Harbour



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

PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:20 pm
by Gordie12
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.

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

PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 2:42 am
by nitamiriam
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

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

PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2020 5:58 pm
by paulgarb
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