The John Muir Way

6. The John Muir Way

Deze lange wandeling brengt u van Helensburgh aan de westkust dwars door het hart van Schotland naar Dunbar, de geboorteplaats van John Muir, de voorvechter van National Parks, aan de oostkust. Het is een wandeling met grote tegenstellingen: prachtige stranden, rustige kanalen, boerenland en bosgebied. Met zijn 215 km. is het een hele lange wandeling, maar hij is naast lang niet erg inspannend en is heel geschikt voor beginnende langeafstandspad wandelaars. Het is ook een route met architectonische en archeologische hoogtepunten, zoals de Romeine Antonine Wall, Linlithgow Palace, waar Mary Queen of Scots woonde, het Falkirk Wheel, de Firth of Forth bruggen en de stad Edinburgh.

Hij is min of meer verdeeld in 3 stukken:
Van Helensburgh naar Kirkintilloch over voetpaden en landweggetjes door een heuvelig, landelijk gebied in de omgeving van Loch Lomond.
Het tweede deel is vooral over paden langs kanalen tot Linlithgow.
Het derde stuk is veelal langs de kust van Bo’ness aan de Firth of Forth, over stranden en kliffen naar Dunbar met een korte omweg naar historisch Edinburgh.

De aanbevolen optie is: 10 wandeldagen en 11 nachten

Day 1: Travel to Helensburgh, the Victorian seaside resort, famous for its wide tree-lined streets and Charles Rennie Mackintosh architecture.

Day 2: Helensburgh to Balloch (9 miles / 15 km) Leave Helensburgh behind and start with a climb to the trail’s highest point, Gouk Hill (277m) which gives great views back to the Firth of Clyde and onwards to Loch Lomond. Here you will have entered Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Scotland’s first national park. To end the day descend to Balloch, situated on the bonnie bonnie banks.

Day 3: Balloch to Strathblane (18.5 miles / 29.5 km) Pass through Balloch Castle Country Park which boasts landscaped gardens, and then break out into open country. Wind your way across hills and fields until reaching the West Highland Way, which gives a well waymarked stretch, passing near Glengoyne Distillery. The walk today finishes at the village of Strathblane, resting under the Campsie Fells.

Day 4: Strathblane to Auchinstarry (13 miles / 21 km) From Strathblane the way travels through more open ground and woodland, passes Lennoxtown, and makes its way into Kirkintilloch along Glazert Water. Most of the day the Campsie Fells are still in sight. At Kirkintilloch join the towpath of the Forth & Clyde Canal which will take you past Twechar and on to Auchinstarry. Make sure to visit the ruins of Bar Hill Fort on the Roman Antonine Wall, just past Twechar.

Day 5: Auchinstarry to Falkirk (13 miles / 21 km) After an initial, short climb up Croy Hill to see more of the Roman Antonine Wall, today’s section is characterised by canal towpath. Follow the Forth & Clyde Canal for a long tranquil stretch, descending through a few locks. The route diverges briefly from the towpath to take you to Rough Castle Roman Fort, but soon rejoins the Forth & Clyde at the point it meets the Union Canal; at the famous Falkirk Wheel.

Day 6: Falkirk to Linlithgow (8.5 miles / 13.5 km) From Falkirk make your way into the historic Callendar Park and House, followed by Callendar Wood. A further stretch on the Union Canal takes the route past Polmont and subsequently onto the impressive Avon Aqueduct – the tallest and longest aqueduct in Scotland. Another stretch of water, this time the River Avon, winds its way down into Linlithgow, where a small detour from the official Way will take you to the magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace.

Day 7: Linlithgow to South Queensferry (14 miles / 22.5 km) A day of historical interest as you head northwards from Linlithgow, past the Bo’Mains Meadow Wildlife Reserve, Kinneil House, the Bo’Ness & Kinneil Railway, before emerging at the shore of the Firth of Forth. A shore section takes the route to the imposing Blackness Castle, then on to Hopetoun House, Scotland’s grandest stately home. End the day in the pleasant town of South Queensferry, in the shadow of the iconic Forth Bridges.

Day 8: South Queensferry to Edinburgh (15.5 miles / 25 km)  This long section begins with a woodland and coastal stretch along the Forth shore, passing Dalmeny House with views to Cramond Island, before entering Edinburgh’s suburbs. Leafy avenues and a golf course are followed by a climb up Corstorphine Hill, with views down to the city centre. The Water of Leith Walkway takes the route to the impressive Slateford Aqueduct, where you are reunited with the Union Canal. Follow the towpath as far as Lochrin Basin where the route strikes uphill to the green and leafy Meadows Park, dominated by views of Edinburgh Castle.

Day 9: Edinburgh to Port Seton (12 miles / 19 km) Today you will leave Edinburgh and the Meadows behind and head towards Arthurs Seat – it is well worth taking a detour to climb this peak (251m) to enjoy one of the best views of the city. The Innocent Cycleway and then Brunstane Burn Path return you to the Firth of Forth at Musselburgh’s sandy beach. Make your way to Prestonpans along the coast, a habitat for numerous wading birds, and onwards past Cockenzie Power Station to Port Seton, which still maintains a small fishing fleet.

Day 10: Port Seton to North Berwick (14.5 miles / 23 km) From Port Seton, the beaches of Seton and Gosford Sands provide open views, before the route cuts inland past the mansion of Gosford House, and on to the picturesque village of Aberlady. Wind your way through hedgerow-lined farmland, past the ruins of Saltcoats and Dirleton castles, ending the day in the seaside town of North Berwick.

Day 11: North Berwick to Dunbar (15 miles / 24 km) This morning you could pay a visit to the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick Harbour, before beginning the final stage of the John Muir Way by striking inland past North Berwick Law. The route follows good paths and country lanes through more farmland to East Linton, past the 17th Century Preston Water Mill, and along the River Tyne to John Muir Country Park. The final stretch winds its way along sandstone clifftops and into Dunbar, where the John Muir Way ends at the great man’s birthplace.

Day 12: Onward Travel