New Muir route leads to extra £1m for city

Cyclists on the John Muir Way, which extends from Helensburgh to Dunbar. Picture: comp
Cyclists on the John Muir Way, which extends from Helensburgh to Dunbar. Picture: comp
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Ramblers are set to boost city coffers by more than £1.4 million with the launch of a new route commemorating the world’s most famous conservationist.

The new John Muir Way is expected to create more than 60 jobs across the Capital, with around 195,000 hikers expected to tackle the path by 2019, according to an economic impact study associated with the project.

The 134-mile walk will be opened by First Minister Alex Salmond on April 21 and runs from Helensburgh on the west coast to Dunbar on the east. It passes through Edinburgh by the Brunstane Burn path linking Holyrood Park and the east of the city with Musselburgh.

City business chiefs have hailed the positive economic impact of the project.

David Birrell, chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said the route would attract a new “swathe of tourists” which will benefit the city’s economy.

“There is clearly an opportunity for a variety of businesses in Edinburgh to benefit as a result of the influx of visitors the new route heralds,” he said.

Graham Birse, director of the Edinburgh Institute business school at Napier University, said: “John Muir is a Scotsman who is more famous in the US than in Scotland, though he is becoming better known now.

“This will be an attraction for visitors from the US.”

John Muir was a Scottish-American naturalist and author and is often referred to as the founding father of the US National Parks. He was born in Dunbar in 1838 and immigrated to America in 1849 from Helensburgh.

His lobbying and activism led directly to the passing of the US National Park Bill in 1890 which created the Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks in California. He also founded the Sierra Club in 1892, which is one of the oldest and most influential environmental organisations in America.

The John Muir Way was created by the Central Scotland Green Network and Scottish Natural Heritage.

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, called the opening of the new route “extremely exciting,” adding: “The route takes visitors on a journey to areas they may have never experienced before, opening up the countryside for people to explore tranquil nature reserves, medieval castles, Roman ruins, hidden rivers and much more.”

WALK THIS WAY

MEASURING a staggering 134 miles, the new John Muir Way is 38 miles longer than the West Highland Way, at “just” 96 miles.

The route, which takes seven to ten days to cover, stretches from Helensburgh to Dunbar – the birthplace of conservationist John Muir – passing through Kirkintilloch, Falkirk and Edinburgh on the way. It will be opened on the centenary of Muir’s death and during the first Scottish John Muir Festival, from April 17-26.