With the 175th anniversary of the birth of John Muir this coming Sunday I thought it appropriate to right a little blog about this pioneering Scot and particularly his legacy in the country of his birth.
Is there a Scottish historical figure more deserving of a long distance walking path than the great John Muir? Certainly in my mind the answer would be an unequivocal no. Many regard Muir as the father of modern conservation and the concept of National Parks may not exist (including our own Loch Lomond and Cairngorm parks) if it were not for the man who was ahead of his time.
John Muir was born in Dunbar in 1838 (the town is home to the superb John Muir Birthplace Museum) and although he lived in America from age 11 until his death in 1914, those formative years living on Scotland’s east coast were key in developing his love affair with the outdoors. Muir is a national hero in America (California celebrates John Muir Day on April 21st annually) but he has been a little overlooked in his native country. However, the John Muir Way, which travels for 45 beautiful miles along the East Lothian coastline, between Dunglass and Fisherrow, is a fitting legacy to the man who devoted most of his life to the safeguarding of the environment.
The route grants a wonderfully scenic long distance walk, traveling along great swathes of sand, through beautiful woodland and over peaceful, picturesque countryside where an extraordinary diversity of wildlife thrives; en route hundreds of species of plants can be seen, as well as roe deer, otter, kittiwake, skylark, meadow pipit, ringed plover, pink footed geese, kingfisher, small heath and common blue butterflies to name but a few.
Throughout the walk the scenery is breathtaking, with magnificent panoramas of Bass Rock, Fidra, Fife, Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh. It passes through bustling towns and villages such as North Berwick, Gullane, Port Seton and Musselburgh, offering a variety of places to take a break and relish this wonderful segment of Scotland, and a walk John Muir would surely be proud of.