Ask a stranger in Edinburgh and they probably won’t know an awful lot about Dunbar – a quaint little town on the east coast of Scotland, half an hour on a (likely delayed) train from the capital. Ask the good people of Dunbar and they might tell you that’s because people from Edinburgh often don’t know much about anywhere in Scotland except Edinburgh – and they can be right.
I once heard someone from Limerick joke that “most people from Dublin have never actually been to Ireland” – suggesting that the people who live there rarely, if ever, stray beyond the city limits. It’s a stereotype – unfair in a lot of cases – but often based in some truth. I’ve lived in Edinburgh for over 20 years, and spent plenty of time in the cities, and even up in the Highlands, of Scotland – but I recently realised that to my shame, I didn’t really know what was in the 47.5 miles between Edinburgh and Glasgow, other than the name of the train stops.
“Muir famously once took a three-day camping trip with Theodore Roosevelt in what would become… Yosemite National Park”
Last summer I set out to rectify that by riding the John Muir Way, a long-distance trail that runs 134 miles from the very east coast of Scotland, Dunbar, to the very west, finishing in Helensburgh. The route is one of Scotland’s Great Trails, and it was opened in 2014 to mark the 100 year anniversary of the death of renowned conservationist John Muir.
John Muir is best known as the “Father of the National Parks”. He’s incredibly well known in the US, but less so in his native Scotland. Muir famously once took a three-day camping trip with Theodore Roosevelt in what would become, thanks to him, Yosemite National Park – and he went on to become the best known early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the US.