The John Muir Way today (Tuesday 21st April 2015) celebrated the first anniversary of the official opening of the 134 mile coast to coast route.
The aim of the route was to boost participation in the outdoors and it is estimated that 9,000 end to end walkers and cyclists will complete the lowland trail every year.
Minister for Environment Dr Aileen McLeod said: “It’s really encouraging to see the success of the John Muir Way in its first year. It has already proved a big hit with people of all ages, inspiring us to get out and about to explore central Scotland and reconnecting people with nature. It also improves the environment for local communities and benefits businesses along the route.
“I’ve no doubt the John Muir Way will continue to develop over the coming years and that more and more people will enjoy and benefit from it in the future.”
The route runs between Dunbar and Helensburgh and Keith Geddes, Chair of the Central Scotland Green Network, was the inspiration behind the trail.
He said: “The John Muir Way was designed to be a route accessible to all regardless of ability and experience. It’s been great to hear the feedback from walkers and cyclists about their own particular journey and adventure.
“The key aim in developing the route was to use Muir’s life as an inspiration for young people to take an interest in nature and in the challenges the world faces in dealing with climate change. It has been heartening to see local schools and local communities being inspired by Muir’s legacy and taking ownership of the route in their own area.
“A further benefit has been a boost to local economies. Dunbar traders, for example, are delighted at the noticeable upturn in business while the John Muir Birthplace Trust Museum has seen a 23% increase in footfall and a 45% increase in sales. Over the coming year we intend to do more to ensure that local businesses right along the route benefit directly.”
The route is a flagship project for CSGN and work has been continuing over the past 12 months to further increase the attraction for both end-to-end and local users. Improvements have included a new upland path near Gowk Hill on the Helensburgh to Balloch section and a crumbling shore path between Bo’ness and Blackness has also been replaced with new coastal defences and a multi-use path.
A further upland path is being created through the Kilpatrick Hills between Carbeth and Balloch.
The route was developed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Ron McCraw, said: The John Muir Way is not just a long distance route, it is a valuable asset for the local community with huge potential to enhance the town and the lives of those who live in it with social, economic and environmental benefits.
“The trail is also well placed to promote the benefits of joined up action along the route and in the long term to showcase positive environmental management and landscape improvements.”
For further information about the John Muir Way, please visit www.johnmuirway.org – a dedicated website on the 134 mile route with key information to help people plan their trip. Features include an interactive map and section descriptions, nearby attractions, accommodation and food and drink providers, and details on accessibility.