John Muir Way

My visit to Helensburgh the other day made me think about perhaps walking along the John Muir Way one day. I have covered a considerable length of it at one point or another, the greatest extent in East Lothian, but since the Way was extended in 2014, I have thought occasionally about doing it end-to-end. From Helensburgh to Dunbar is 134 miles and to do it would probably require a week or more to do it continuously, plus a few days more to get myself up to sufficient fitness. More likely will be doing it in bits, probably starting in Helensburgh since I live not so far from there, or at least closer than I do Dunbar. I would like to walk to Balloch at least – indeed I once set a story on that stretch leading up to Loch Lomond – then see where I get to after that.

John Muir Way signpost
Bench in the Glebe, Dunbar
The other end of the John Muir Way, in Helensburgh

It will be a project for next year now. It’s October and the nights are fair drawing in. Plus it’s getting colder too. I like to have a plan for future travels, even if they don’t always materialise. This year was supposed to be the year of islands but I have only been to one, Ireland. I find that sooner rather than later, my mad, wacky notions end up happening, though, so even if I don’t do the John Muir Way next year, it will happen at one point.

On the bench marking one end of the John Muir Way in Helensburgh is a quote from John Muir, naturally enough. It reads:

‘The sun shines not on us but in us’.

Like many of Muir’s words, it stands just fine on its own. The rest of the paragraph (from ‘Mountain Thoughts’, published eventually in 1938) neatly sums up just why the John Muir Way exists and what benefits it brings to those who walk it or in the hills:

‘The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and; tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.’


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