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The John Muir Way — A conservationist's Scottish coast to coast

Bryony Carter :Hike_This_Way

The John Muir Way — A conservationist's Scottish coast to coast

Hiking Collection by Bryony Carter :Hike_This_Way



44:13 h

132 mi

6,850 ft

As part of my ongoing mission to walk a trail in every county in the UK, I thought I would combine this with a personal pilgrimage of the John Muir Way, 132 miles (212 km) from coast to coast across Scotland. Winding through the Scottish heartlands, I ticked off a few counties as I went. As always with my Walks & Talks project, I was meeting and interviewing some amazing people along the way!

Why the John Muir Way? Well this is sort of a 'fan moment' for me. John Muir is a real hero of mine: a total pioneer, intrepid traveller, fearless adventurer, activist (even before activism was a thing), inventor, ecologist, biologist and tireless campaigner to protect the natural world. We have so much to thank him for. He's also the reason we can enjoy so much of our vast national parks, and is a relatively unsung hero here in the UK. Born in Dunbar in Scotland in 1838, his family emigrated to America when he was just 11.

Growing up in Scotland meant his childhood was care-free and full of scrambles, coastal play, countryside and getting into mischief. Moving to America really was another world of epic proportions and he fell in love with the great sequoias that he found in California.

His letters, essays, and books describing his adventures in nature, especially in the Sierra Nevada, have been read by millions. His activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park, and his example has served as an inspiration for the preservation of many other wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he co-founded, is a prominent American conservation organisation.

In his later life, Muir devoted most of his time to the preservation of the western forests. As part of the campaign to make Yosemite a national park, Muir published two landmark articles on wilderness preservation in The Century Magazine: 'The Treasures of the Yosemite' and 'Features of the Proposed Yosemite National Park'. This helped support the push for U.S. Congress to pass a bill in 1890 establishing Yosemite National Park.

The spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings has inspired readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas.

As part of my role in my work for Shropshire Wildlife Trust, I have been lucky enough to be responsible for the delivery of Thousands of Children receiving their John Muir Award and legacy environmental award that is given out to children, young people and families all across the country. Through ten years of delivering this I have learned all about John Muir and his legacy, and I could not think of a better trail to explore than this.

On The Map


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John Muir Way

133 mi

6,425 ft

6,375 ft

Last updated: December 9, 2021

Tours & Highlights

  • Day 1: Helensburgh to Burncrooks — John Muir Way

    16.5 mi
    3.1 mph
    1,750 ft
    1,375 ft

    This is the first time I have ever done a thru-hike wild camping trip on my own. I have wanted to do the John Muir Way for a really long time. SO many people talk about the West Highland Way, and don't get me wrong that is on my radar, but for me I really wanted to see a different side to Scotland and

    by Bryony Carter :Hike_This_Way

  • 05:11
    15.5 mi
    3.0 mph
    1,075 ft
    1,225 ft

    I woke up in the morning to a cold cloud clag, reluctant to get out my sleeping bag, and the hot red ball of sunshine that I’d drifted off to sleep to had gone along with the views of the mountains. It was about 5am when I decided to convince myself to make a break out my sleeping bag and do the *get

    by Bryony Carter :Hike_This_Way

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  • 06:57
    21.5 mi
    3.1 mph
    1,000 ft
    925 ft

    I didn't want to get up, and the air was definitely cold outside, but the need to have to wee overpowered the need to get out the warmth of my sleeping bag. It was 5am and because of where I had chosen to camp that night, I needed to be up and packed away early. With wild camping along a route of this

    by Bryony Carter :Hike_This_Way

  • 05:08
    16.1 mi
    3.1 mph
    825 ft
    900 ft

    After spending three days on my own, it was a welcomed treat to have some special guests join me as I started out from Falkirk this morning.


    Bryony and Leanne (yes another Bryony, the Scottish version) are two amazing ladies that I met on Instagram in the last years and we have got on really well, so

    by Bryony Carter :Hike_This_Way

  • 06:59
    21.6 mi
    3.1 mph
    1,200 ft
    900 ft

    From day five onwards to Edinburgh it finally felt like I had broken the back of the trail as I headed east towards Edinburgh.


    I started the day from Blackness Castle, an impressive building that stands out on the sea. It was early and eerie, and I wondered around the grounds for a while and then headed

    by Bryony Carter :Hike_This_Way

  • 06:54
    19.7 mi
    2.9 mph
    300 ft
    475 ft

    The penultimate day of the trail. I woke up early to take advantage of a long shower, re-packed my bag and waited for the arrival of another guest to walk with me on my travels. Jess Adams, again is someone I connected with over social media. I had followed her for a while and loved her style and humour

    by Bryony Carter :Hike_This_Way

  • 07:39
    21.3 mi
    2.8 mph
    700 ft
    750 ft

    The final day. We woke to a beautiful golden beach, early morning dog walkers, swimmers and runners. We took three years to get unsuccessfully get every bit sand out of everything, but totally worth the beach camp.


    We were starting early, Jess asking how I felt about it being the last day. I never know

    by Bryony Carter :Hike_This_Way

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    132 mi
  • Duration
    44:13 h
  • Elevation
    6,850 ft

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