Walking the John Muir Way

Walking the John Muir Way

It’s no stretch to say that John Muir shaped how we view the outdoors. Few have done more for the preservation of the environment and the outdoors than this Scottish native. It’s fitting, then, that the John Muir Way in Scotland gives people the opportunity to walk coast to coast across Scotland. Since it’s such a long walk (215 km), it’s important to pack right. Here’s a guide to some of the trails, and what to carry in your backpack along the way.

Walking the John Muir Way Scotland

Walking the John Muir Way Scotland

Helensburgh to Balloch

This 15km walk is a perfect introduction to the John Muir walk. At a brisk 4 hours walking, it can easily be done in an afternoon. You’ll start from the seaside town of Helensburgh, where along the way to Balloch you’ll see views of Loch Lomond set against the mountainous backdrop. Most of the path consists of paved roads, with some stretches of grassy paths in between. For this walk, a daypack would suffice, filled with snacks and water.

Linlithgow to South Queensferry

This 23 km walk is a delightful trek through the countryside. You’ll be taking the same trail that fishermen travelling from Bo’ness to Linlithgow would walk to sell their catches. You’ll have plenty of bird watching opportunities as you walk along the shore. This is a longer walk (around 7 hours), so you’ll want to pack a bit more. Instead of a daypack, a standard backpack is necessary, complete with a waterproof backpack cover (you will be by the shore and all). Inside you should have a waterproof jacket, waterproof bags for any essential items you don’t want to get wet, food, and a first aid kit. You may want to pack some extra clothes, as South Queensferry is a wonderful town to stay the night in, and you’ll probably be tired from the active day.

North Berwick to Dunbar

This 24 km walk (around 5 hours) offers many prime sightseeing opportunities. When you leave North Berwick, you have the opportunity to climb Berwick Law (you should), which gives you a tremendous panoramic view. You can even see Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and the Tantallon Castle south of Dunbar. You’ll find this trail is tougher than others, with some steps and steep inclines. As such, it may be smart to pack walking sticks. However, aside from the waterproof backpack cover, jacket, and snacks, you may not need more. You could fit most of the items needed into smaller rucksacks for women, which you can buy at Tesco. This is due to the many opportunities to stop along the way. The village of East Linton is an especially popular stop. Afterwards, you’ll end up at John Muir’s Birthplace Museum, a fitting end to an adventurous walk.

Walking the John Muir Way

Walking the John Muir Way




Water Bottle(s)

Talcum Powder

Adhesive Bandages

First Aid Kit


With the tips above you’ll be well prepared and be able to enjoy the beautiful trails on foot. This really is some of the many fine things that Scotland has to offer.

Images by timniblett and Alan Weir, used under Creative Commons licence.


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