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.
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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 and sense of adventure: it was clear we had the same sense of humour and would get on.