WORK is continuing on a fascinating trail which celebrates the life of one of Scotland’s most famous sons – with East Dunbartonshire at its heart.
The new long-distance route – which passes through Kirkintilloch, Lennoxtown and Milton of Campsie – will open on John Muir’s birthday on April 21 next year.
It forms part of the celebrations to mark the centenary of the Scots-born naturalist’s death.
It is hoped the John Muir Trail – linking Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar to Helensburgh via Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and East Dunbartonshire – will celebrate his life, promote his ideas and provide a memorable walking experience.
The 105-mile (169km) route will follow some existing walks and, in other sections, new paths are being created.
The trail will enable walkers, cyclists and horse riders to easily visit some of the most beautiful scenery, sweeping landscapes, wildlife sites and historic visitor attractions across Scotland’s heartland.
Although the full route is not yet open, there have been many local path improvements, giving walkers and cyclists a boost already.
In East Dunbartonshire, from west to east, the route follows the Strathkelvin Railway Path from Strathblane to Kirkintilloch (via Lenntoxtown and Milton of Campsie).
After a short section through the town, it joins the Forth and Clyde Canal to Twechar, where it links in with the Antonine Wall at Bar Hill.
The route will be marked with The John Muir Trail signs, while a website, book, leaflets and map will give people all the information they need to complete part or all of the trail.
Conservationist John Muir was born in Dunbar in 1838 before emigrating to the United States in 1849.
Amongst his many achievements he helped save the Yosemite Valley in California, was a co-founder of The Sierra Club – one of the most influential grassroots environmental organisations in the USA – and successfully campaigned for national parks in America.
The launch of the new route is seens as an integral part of the Year of Homecoming 2014.
Keith Geddes – chairman of the Central Scotland Green Network partnership board, which developed the concept of the route – said: “John Muir is considered one of the patron saints of 20th-century American environmental activity.
“He is noted for being a conservationist, naturalist, geologist, inventor and explorer. However, Americans still tend to know more about him than Scots.
“This is why the new route is a fitting way to celebrate a man who – through his life, writings and legacy – could inspire a new generation of Scots to recognise the value of nature and the outdoors.
“It will take walkers and cyclists from Muir’s birthplace through Scotland’s first national park, through East Dunbartonshire to Helensburgh.”
The hard work involved in developing the route is being carried out by Scottish Natural Heritage.
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