The John Muir Way has been heralded as a great success today (Wednesday 24th December 2014) on the 100th anniversary of the death of the renowned naturalist.
The coast-to-coast route which runs between Dunbar and Helensburgh 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 134 mile lowland trail officially opened on 21st April 2014 during the first ever Scottish John Muir Festival which marked the conservationist’s birthday.
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 and has already proved very popular with both walkers and cyclists from as far afield as the US, Canada, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.
The Way has also had a positive economic impact on the local area with a number of businesses being established including baggage transfer and route guiding. A selection of John Muir Way branded beers have also been created as well as a range of merchandising which includes a special tartan.
The John Muir Birthplace Trust has also seen an immediate benefit from the route with a 25% increase in visitors and a 43% rise in sales.
Environment Minister, Dr McLeod, said: “It is great to see the John Muir Way go from strength to strength. Not only has it highlighted the great legacy John Muir made to protecting the environment it also encourages people to explore their local area, attracts visitors from around the world and brings economic benefits to communities along the route too.”
Keith Geddes, Chair of the Central Scotland Green Network, was the inspirtation behind the route and the creation of the John Muir Way was a flagship project for the CSGN.
Keith 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. Internationally there has been huge media interest and at home an increasing number of Scots are aware of Muir’s life, work and legacy.”
The route was developed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Ron McCraw, said: “We are delighted to see people enjoying the route and are encouraged by positive feedback.
“Since the launch we have been continuing to improve the route. A new section of hill path between Helensburgh and Balloch is in place offering a better high level option and the upgraded path and new coastal defences between Blackness and Bo’ness are now complete offering quality access right beside the sea.
“Work is also now underway to create a new route across the Kilpatricks Hills and these new sections will greatly improve the experience of path users.”
John Thomas, Chair of John Muir Birthplace Trust, said: “Staff and volunteers have been delighted to welcome people starting and completing the route in Dunbar. Walkers and cyclists are visiting the museum to find out more about John Muir’s life story and legacy, collect a completion certificate or find out more about the area.”
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.