And yet, while the first national park in America, Yellowstone, is about to celebrate its 150th anniversary and Yosemite its 132nd, it was not until 2002 that Muir’s native Scotland adopted the idea. The creation of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park was quickly followed by the Cairngorms in 2003, but since then there have been no more.
However, following a Scottish government pledge to create “at least one” more by 2026, campaigners are calling for a new grand strategy to enable the establishment of several, with the potential sides including Galloway; Ben Nevis and Glen Coe; Wester Ross; and a coastal and marine site, centred around Argyll.
Done well, a national park can help to square the apparent circle of protecting and improving the environment while at the same time boosting the economy of the area.
And if nothing else, national parks help to focus deserved attention on the wonders of the natural world to be found in Scotland.
We can only hope for such eloquent modern-day champions as Muir, who wrote of Yellowstone in 1898: “... the park is full of exciting wonders. The wildest geysers in the world, in bright, triumphant bands, are dancing and singing in it amid thousands of boiling springs, beautiful and awful, their basins arrayed in gorgeous colors like gigantic flowers; and hot paint-pots, mud springs, mud volcanoes, mush and broth caldrons whose contents are of every color and consistency, plash and heave and roar in bewildering abundance.”