In footsteps of John Muir, a new coast-to-coast pathway
A NEW hiking route planned for central Scotland is to be named the John Muir Trail and marketed to promote the work of the 19th-century conservationist.
The path, which will run from Dunbar to Greenock, is being heralded as the next major walking trail across Scotland, alongside the West Highland Way and the Southern Upland Way.
Three possible routes are being considered which will take in landmarks relating to John Muir - who founded the National Park movement in the US - including the site in Broomielaw Quay, where he boarded a ship to emigrate to America. The track would begin at Muir's birthplace in Dunbar, incorporate the existing John Muir Way in East Lothian and end near Greenock, where he got off the boat on a refuelling stop before crossing the Atlantic in 1849.
It will also take in some of the route Muir travelled across Scotland when he visited on his only return home, 44 years later.
Keith Geddes, chairman of the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN), which is leading the development of the route, said the trail would be officially opened to mark the centenary of John Muir's death in 2014.
He added that he hoped the project would result in the creation of new tourism businesses, as well as commemorate the work of the conservationist, a revered historical figure in the US, where there are three trails named after him.
"I want it to attract the tourist market as well as Scottish hikers," he said. "In the US, Muir is a big name and that will be a great thing to attract American visitors.
"When I first went to Yosemite National Park in 1975, my American friends said 'You're Scottish, you tell us all about John Muir', and I said 'Who?'. Now I know how inspirational he is. We want to use some of his famous quotes on signs along the route."
The first option under consideration is a coastal route, which would follow the sea across East Lothian and through Edinburgh, before travelling through Falkirk, past the Falkirk Wheel and back to the sea at the Broomielaw Quay port.
Another would begin in the same way, and then head south before Falkirk and rejoin the first route in central Glasgow.
A third option would weave south of Edinburgh and through the Pentland Hills, before hooking around the south of Glasgow and then up to Greenock.
CSGN is to invite pitches from local councils as to why their attractions should be included. It will then finalise the route with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), which is also backing the project.
"The John Muir Trail is a great way to raise the profile of Muir in Scotland," said Jo Moulin, manager of the John Muir Birthplace Trust, which runs his museum in his former Dunbar family home.The routes will offer an excellent chance for people to follow places that have been important to Muir."
She said she hoped the trail would inspire people to follow Muir's love of "sauntering" - which he advocated to allow walkers time to enjoy the countryside.
"He didn't think you should hike for hiking's sake but thought you should look at the tiniest plants or creatures on the way. This is an excellent opportunity for people to get outdoors to saunter and explore nature on their doorstep," said Ms Moulin.
Ron McCraw, recreation and access manager at SNH, said: "Although it's early days, we're very hopeful that this wonderful idea will be realised."
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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