The John Muir Way is a new 134 mile lowland trail which opened on 21 April 2014. The trail’s launch featured as part of the John Muir Festival which marked both the conservationist’s birthday and centenary of his death. It has since captured significant interest from the public and media both locally and internationally.

Running between Dunbar and Helensburgh, the trail echoes John Muir’s own personal journey growing up in Scotland’s east coast town of Dunbar before travelling to the west coast, where he set sail for life in America. The route has been designed to take in castles, historic towns and villages, stunning coastal scenery as well as Scotland’s first national park, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

Creating the new John Muir Way is a flagship project for the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN). Keith Geddes, Chair of the CSGN, who conceived of the route, commented: “Watching our idea develop into this inspirational and fitting tribute to John Muir has been an incredible experience. We are very proud of playing our part in commemorating one of Scotland’s most famous sons and hope the next generation will follow in his footsteps and appreciate and protect our beautiful country.” 

With the route now operational, the focus is now moving to look at how to maximise the development and use of the John Muir Way and to safeguard its future management.  A stakeholder workshop in September 2015 helped to inform thinking on how this would be approached.

The intention is to develop the following by 31 March 2016:

  1. Route, structures and promotions in good shape for new LDR season
  2. Vision and draft Management Plan prepared to provide future direction
  3. Business Case prepared to support continued and encourage new investment in the route and recommend where responsibility will lie for coordinating JMW development, management and maintenance
  4. Clear view and stakeholder support for Management Structures from April 16 onwards
  5. If possible, funding application submitted to support an initial post (or FTE posts)

Our next step is to set up a short term working group to help Scottish Natural Heritage and CSGNT to develop these actions.

John Muir Way Promo Video

For more information please visit the John Muir Way website.

An increasing number of Local Authorities are working to increase the proportion of households located within 300m of green space, which is being actively managed for community use. Targeted demonstration projects are in place within two local authorities to support increasing levels of physical activity in the outdoors and NHS Greenspace projects have been developed within each NHS Board. It is hoped that these projects will demonstrate good practice in the management and use of the outdoors across a range of settings.

Two strands of work have been progressed since 2011, Greening the NHS Estate and Health Promoting Environments. Work on making greenspace improvements to the NHS Estates has included developing and beginning to implement a woodland management plan for the grounds of Ailsa & Ayr Hospital and development of a site masterplan and detailed proposals for Gartnavel Hospital. Major works have been completed at the Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert where the woodland has been managed, invasive vegetation has been removed from around Larbert Loch and the woodland areas and a new lochside path and a network of woodland trails have been created. The works have allowed access to the hospital grounds for staff, patients and local people. An onsite Ranger has lead Branching Out and Cardiac Rehabilitation activities in partnership with NHS clinicians. At the Royal Edinburgh Hospital a path improvement project is under way and there are plans being developed to manage the woodlands. At Little France connections to the wider regeneration area are being developed by PARC Craigmillar. Three new build HUBco Community Health Centres in East Kilbride, Wishaw and Kilsyth are currently being assessed by the Green Exercise Partnership for suitability as Greening NHS estate demonstration projects in Lanarkshire.

A Physical Activity brief advice pilot has been developed with NHS Health Scotland and will take place in six Area Health Boards including Ayrshire & Arran and Lothian in the CSGN area. The Green Exercise Partnership has helped to support the production of resources for participating patients on physical activity and recreation in outdoor settings.

A pilot programme to promote information on local greenspace as healthcare settings - Local Green Exercise Asset - will be tested during 2013-14. The aim of the project is to work with a number of GP practices, hospitals and day care centres to provide user-friendly information on local green assets to encourage people to take healthy exercise.

To help improve employment prospects in the CSGN area, we aim by 2016 to ensure that:

  • NHS Greenspace projects have been developed within each NHS Board area to demonstrate good practice in the management and use of the outdoors across a range of health care settings.
  • Targeted demonstration projects are in place within two local authorities to support increasing levels of physical activity in the outdoors.
  • More Local Authority SOAs include indicators on levels of access to greenspace (compared to the 2012 baseline) and/or levels of outdoor activity.

This work is being taken forward by Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Recent public interest in growing your own food, together with more strategic concerns from local and national government regarding food security, has led to increased demand for community growing projects. Growing your own food has a number of benefits: keeping food bills lower; improved freshness and flavour; reduced food miles; increased food security; and the positive role of gardening in reducing stress levels and increasing physical activity.

Increasing awareness means that, in some areas, the amount of land and number of sites available for growing is not keeping up with demand. As part of the 2010 CSGN Baseline research, the CSGN Community Growing Audit recorded the extent of community growing within the CSGN area. The research was published in 2011 and it identified 234 growing projects. The study also highlighted areas which might benefit from new community growing projects.

In 2011, SNH, Scottish Government Food & Drink Division and the CSGN agreed to fund the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society (SAGS) to produce a comprehensive guide to designing and developing new and existing allotments and growing spaces to further encourage activity. This design guide was launched at the SAGS conference in June 2013 and an online document is available. The Grow Your Own Working Group (GYOWG) has also produced a guide to help groups grow food on sites with soil contamination.

The Community Growing in the CSGN area update is available to download which summarises research undertaken by the CSGNT during the spring and summer of 2015. It seeks to build on findings from the previous work and shed further light onto the subject.

The CSGN continues to support the GYOWG. A core objective for this body is to raise awareness of the potential of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

The GYOWG is also starting to support local authorities to develop individual food growing strategies.

 

The Green Network can deliver health and well-being benefits through the provision of walking and cycling routes. These will also support a shift from road travel to more sustainable and lower cost forms of ‘active travel’, with all their associated health benefits.

Local authorities are being encouraged to increase walking and cycling as part of their local transport strategies and are undertaking core path planning, working the Local Access Forums and consultees, to establish a network of paths, giving communities reasonable access throughout their area. The National Cycle Network is also being developed by Sustrans and the lowland canal network represents a further strategic access resource.

A Strategic Statement on CSGN Active Travel identifying short-term priority tasks to 2015 and a longer term programme of work will be ready shortly. Paths for All has created a suite of 16 CSGN Active Travel Case Studies which promote best practice from within the CSGN area and from across Scotland.

Since 2010, the CSGN Development Fund has supported over 50 access and active travel projects improving and creating local and longer distance routes in rural and urban areas.

To help improve access and encourage active travel in the CSGN area, we aim by 2016 to ensure that:

  • The John Muir Way, has been established and promoted, and work is ongoing to enhance facilities and encourage use.
  • By 2015, progress has been made in encouraging establishment and uptake of Active Travel schemes by key employers, and these cases are well documented and promoted; plans are in place to progress further schemes.
  • By 2015, existing routes within the network of longer distance routes are collectively promoted as part of a CSGN active recreation and travel network; progress is being made in addressing priority network gaps and improving existing routes.

This work is led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Our Vision for Central Scotland

‘By 2050, Central Scotland has been transformed into a place where the environment adds value to the economy and where people’s lives are enriched by its quality.’

The Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) will change the face of Central Scotland, by restoring and transforming the landscape of an area stretching from Ayrshire and Inverclyde in the west, to Fife and the Lothians in the east.

The CSGN is a national development within the National Planning Framework which aims to make ‘a significant contribution to Scotland's sustainable economic development’. It involves public agencies and stakeholders working together to align their policies, programmes and actions to achieve a common aim.