22 May 2014

Slow Down and Take a Long Walk

Written by Published in Eco Travel

In a world where we are constantly rushing to catch up with ourselves, slow travel is a true tonic for the spirit. Scotland provides magic pockets of unspoiled paradise to scape the hurley-burley of busy city life

Walks and wildlife, authenticity and identity provide the perfect setting in which to relax, unwind and indulge. Thanks to the newly opened John Muir Way, you can now conveniently walk (or cycle) right through the heart of the country.

Named after Scottish-born environmentalist and one of the founding fathers of national parks in the USA, the John Muir Way winds across the centre of Scotland, between Helensburgh on the west coast and Dunbar on the east coast (Muir’s birthplace). It also passes Scotland’s first national park - Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. The 215km route can be walked in 7-10 days, or cycled in half that time, and can also be divided into 10 manageable ‘day walk’ sections.

As you meander, take your time to explore the many historical and cultural landmarks dotted along the route. From the lovely coastal village of Helensburgh, you can visit The Hill House, one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s creations, an impeccable mix of architecture and interior design in Mackintosh’s unique style. After leaving Helensburgh and setting out along the first section of the Way you’ll come to Loch Lomond, its beauty immortalised throughout the years in traditional folk songs. To admire the lake fully, take a cruise from the shore.

In the centre of the trail is Falkirk and Linlithgow, the former a bustling town with well-known tourist attractions including the Falkirk Wheel and The Helix. Nearby are historic Callendar House, set into a beautiful estate, and Linlithgow Palace, the impressive ruins of one of the former principal residences of Scotland’s monarchs.

After Linlithgow the trail winds its way past Edinburgh, where you’ll surely want to spend some time exploring the city’s cobbled alleyways, cultural attractions, and of course Edinburgh Castle, sitting proudly above the city. Finally, meander the rest of the Way along the Tyne river to its completion at John Muir’s Birthplace Museum in Dunbar.

There is something about journeys that makes them so much more special than the destination itself. The heart of Scotland is where the country’s true beauty is revealed. Journeying through it pays off by offering an enriching and soul-nurturing experience of place, people and nature.

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