John Muir Way Gains 'Scotland's Great Trail' Status

The John Muir Way, which runs from Dunbar on Scotland's east coast to Helensburgh on the west, has been officially recognised as one of Scotland's Great Trails.

The 134-mile route, which only opened in 2014, is the 28th long distance path to be awarded the accolade by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Echoing John Muir’s own personal journey growing up in Dunbar before travelling to the west coast, where he set sail for life in America, and lasting fame as the father of National Parks, the route was designed to showcase the best of Central Scotland.

For a taste of what the trail offers, see this film by Zeki Basan:

As well as some inevitable less inspiring semi-urban stretches the John Muir Way takes in some of the best of Scotland's Central Belt, including castles, historic towns and villages, the stunning coastline of East Lothian and bits of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. It has already attracted walkers and cyclists from the UK, Mainland Europe and North America.

Ian Ross, Scottish Natural Heritage Chairman, said:

“We’re extremely pleased to recognise the John Muir Way as one of Scotland’s Great Trails. The coast to coast route is the second longest of our Great Trails and, spanning central Scotland, it is easily accessible for millions of people living here. The John Muir Way is also another excellent outdoor tourism asset for Scotland and we hope the award helps to attract many more visitors over the coming years."

“Scotland’s Great Trails are an important feature of our National Walking and Cycling Network and developing the network is one of the ways the Scottish Government is aiming to achieve its 2020 Biodiversity Challenge goals. These goals include increasing participation in outdoor recreation and the encouragement of more active lifestyles, to help improve the health and quality of life of the people of Scotland.”

A 16-year-old filmmaker from Speyside, Zeki Basan walked and cycled the route, documenting the experience in the film to inspire others to make the journey and embrace the natural environment around them.

Zeki raised £1,500 to undertake the film and was awarded funding from the Central Scotland Green Network, which developed the idea behind the route, as well as a Bill Wallace Grant, in order to complete the project.

‘The Wild Along the Way’ is the second in a trilogy of documentaries Zeki has been producing on John Muir, following his first 10 minute piece on the Scots-born naturalist – ‘In the Spirit of John Muir’ which he created in 2015 during a visit to Yosemite National Park in California. 

Zeki explained the motivation behind the project:

“John Muir was a pioneering conservationist, happiest in wild places where he was rich in life and with a passion for observing every detail of wilderness and wildlife."

“By documenting the John Muir Way in the second film in my John Muir trilogy, I hoped to explore his respect for the environment and bring it into the consciousness of my generation, capturing their imagination and inspiring an appreciation of the world around us."

“The experience was incredibly rewarding as I had the opportunity to explore different parts of Scotland and I was surprised at how much wild there was in urban areas. I loved how flexible the Way is as you can walk, cycle, or even ride a horse along it and you can deviate to find quiet beaches or hilltop views. I would definitely recommend it as you get a real flavour of Scottish culture and history in one journey and I think John Muir would have been delighted with it.”

Keith Geddes, Chair of the Central Scotland Green Network Trust and the originator of the John Muir Way, said:

“I first heard of John Muir when I visited Yosemite over 40 years ago and I was determined to bring him home to Scotland with the creation of a long distance route tracking his journey.

“Zeki is a credit to his generation, sharing so many attributes that John Muir was renowned for and we are proud to have supported him in this venture.  His film on the John Muir Way is truly inspirational and will help to raise awareness of this significant figure in environmental history, as well as encouraging an appreciation and respect for the environment to protect the planet for future generations.”


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