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Overview

Walking Holidays
11 - 12 Nights
134 miles / 215 km
  • Prices from: £1045 per person
  • Start: Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute
  • Finish: Dunbar, East Lothian
  • Availability: Any start date from March to October
  • Grading: Moderate
  • Way-marked: Yes

John Muir Way Highlights

Walk coast-to-coast
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Take on the challenge of walking from the west to the east coast of Scotland, through its heartlands and enjoy a feeling of great achievement as you reach the finishing line.

Engineering marvels
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Marvel at the engineering achievements of the Falkirk Wheel and Forth Bridges. The Falkirk Wheel is the first and only rotating boat lift in the world. Walk under the UNESCO Forth Rail Bridge.

Historic Edinburgh
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You’ll be awestruck by the magnificent city of Edinburgh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the cobbled streets, frequent some of its famous pubs and gaze at the castle watching over the city.

Beautiful scenery
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Enjoy the wonderment of the famous Loch Lomond in Scotland’s first National Park, walking along country lanes and viewing the loch from up close and afar.

Roman history
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Walk in the footsteps of the Romans, discovering the 2,000 year old fortification, the Antonine Wall.

John Muir's birthplace
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Stroll along the beautiful East Lothian coastline, admiring its sandy beaches and red stoned cliffs to Dunbar, birthplace of John Muir.

Walk Across the Heart of Scotland in the Footsteps of John Muir

The John Muir Way is a beloved coast to coast trail, stretching some 134 miles from the west coast to east shore. It travels through Scotland’s first national park, the famous Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, then walks along the Roman Antonine Wall, past the Falkirk Wheel and into the magnificent city of Edinburgh, finishing in Dunbar.

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The John Muir Way is a walk of contrasts, taking in stunning beaches, quiet canals, rolling farmland and picturesque woodlands. At 134 miles long, it is one of Scotland’s longest trails, but also offers one of the best-serviced of Britain’s coast-to-coast expeditions. It is well-waymarked and offers few sustained climbs. The trail visits some of the architectural and archaeological highlights of Scotland, including the Roman Antonine Wall, Linlithgow Palace, the Falkirk Wheel, the Forth Bridges and the City of Edinburgh.

The route follows three broad sections. From Helensburgh to Kirkintilloch, you will encounter footpaths and country lanes through a rolling, rural landscape by Loch Lomond and in the shadow of the Campsie Fells. The central section is mostly canal towpaths, following the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals past the Falkirk Wheel as far as Linlithgow. The final section is mostly coastal walking, from Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth, along beaches and clifftops, to Dunbar on the beautiful East coast, with a brief detour to historic Edinburgh.

John Muir is best known for his time in the USA as a tireless campaigner for the conservation of wilderness areas—an adventurous traveller and talented writer. He is credited with the creation of four national parks, but it was in Scotland that he spent the first 11 years of his life (born 1838), and it was in the countryside around Dunbar where he gained his love of the outdoors.

John Muir Way Route Map

Recommended Itinerary

Our most popular itinerary is JMW1 which covers the route in 10 days / 11 nights.

Travel to Helensburgh for your first night’s accommodation
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Helensburgh is a Victorian seaside resort, famous for its wide tree-lined streets and Charles Rennie Mackintosh architecture.

Day 1: Helensburgh to Balloch (9 miles / 15 km)
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Leave Milngavie and head for the countryside and the picturesque village of Drymen. Enjoy easy walking through rolling farmland and visit Glengoyne Whisky Distillery along the way for a dram of single malt.

Day 2: Balloch to Strathblane (18.5 miles / 29.5 km)
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Pass through Balloch Castle Country Park which boasts landscaped gardens, and then break out into open country. Path newly built in 2015 takes you uphill through forest to the remote and lonely Burncrooks Reservoir, surrounded by open moorland. The walk today finishes at the village of Strathblane, resting under the Campsie Fells.

Day 3: Strathblane to Auchinstarry (13 miles / 21 km)
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From Strathblane the way travels through more open ground and woodland, passes Lennoxtown, and makes its way into Kirkintilloch along Glazert Water. Most of the day the Campsie Fells are still in sight. At Kirkintilloch join the towpath of the Forth & Clyde Canal which will take you past Twechar and on to Auchinstarry. Make sure to visit the ruins of Bar Hill Fort on the Roman Antonine Wall – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 4: Auchinstarry to Falkirk (13 miles / 21 km)
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After an initial, short climb up Croy Hill to see more of the Roman Antonine Wall, today’s section is characterised by canal towpath. Follow the Forth & Clyde Canal for a long tranquil stretch, descending through a few locks. The route diverges briefly from the towpath to take you to Rough Castle Roman Fort, but soon rejoins the Forth & Clyde at the point it meets the Union Canal; at the famous Falkirk Wheel.

Day 5: Falkirk to Linlithgow (8.5 miles / 13.5 km)
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From Falkirk make your way into the historic Callendar Park and House, followed by Callendar Wood. A further stretch on the Union Canal takes the route past Polmont and subsequently onto the impressive Avon Aqueduct – the tallest and longest aqueduct in Scotland.

Another stretch of water, this time the River Avon, winds its way down into Linlithgow, where a small detour from the official Way will take you to the magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots.

Day 6: Linlithgow to South Queensferry (14 miles / 22.5 km)
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A day of historical interest as you head northwards from Linlithgow, past the Bo’Mains Meadow Wildlife Reserve, Kinneil House, the Bo’Ness & Kinneil Railway, before emerging at the shore of the Firth of Forth.

A shore section takes the route to the imposing Blackness Castle, which was used in the filming of Outlander, then on to Hopetoun House – Scotland’s grandest stately home. End the day in the pleasant town of South Queensferry, in the shadow of the iconic Forth Bridges.

Day 7: South Queensferry to Edinburgh (15.5 miles / 25 km)
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This long section begins with a woodland and coastal stretch along the Forth shore, passing Dalmeny House with views to Cramond Island, before entering Edinburgh’s suburbs. Leafy avenues and a golf course are followed by a climb up Corstorphine Hill, with views down to the city centre.

The Water of Leith Walkway takes the route to the impressive Slateford Aqueduct, where you are reunited with the Union Canal. Follow the towpath as far as Lochrin Basin where the route strikes uphill to the green and leafy Meadows Park, dominated by views of Edinburgh Castle.

Day 8: Edinburgh to Port Seton (12 miles / 19 km)
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Today you will leave Edinburgh and the Meadows behind and head towards Arthur’s Seat – it is well worth taking a detour to climb this peak (251m) to enjoy one of the best views of the city. The Innocent Cycleway and then Brunstane Burn Path return you to the Firth of Forth at Musselburgh’s sandy beach.

Make your way to Prestonpans along the coast, a habitat for numerous wading birds, and onwards to Port Seton, which still maintains a small fishing fleet.

Day 9: Port Seton to North Berwick (14.5 miles / 23 km)
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From Port Seton, the beaches of Seton and Gosford Sands provide open views, before the route cuts inland past the mansion of Gosford House, and on to the picturesque village of Aberlady. Wind your way through hedgerow-lined farmland, past the ruins of Saltcoats and Dirleton castles, ending the day in the seaside town of North Berwick.

Day 10: North Berwick to Dunbar (15 miles / 24 km)
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This morning you could pay a visit to the Scottish Seabird Centre at North Berwick Harbour, before beginning the final stage of the John Muir Way by striking inland past North Berwick Law.

The route follows good paths and country lanes through more farmland to East Linton, past the 17th century Preston Mill, and along the River Tyne to John Muir Country Park. The final stretch winds its way along sandstone cliff tops and into Dunbar, where the John Muir Way ends at the great man’s birthplace.

Onward travel
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After breakfast, you will start your journey home after a wonderful walking holiday on the John Muir Way.

What’s Included?

Your John Muir Way walking holiday includes:

  • Carefully selected accommodation along the route and trail transfers when applicable
  • En-suite or private bathroom facilities whenever possible
  • Daily door-to-door baggage transfers
  • Comprehensive information pack, kit list, guidebook and map (one set per room)
  • Personalised itinerary with details of your accommodation, route and recommendations for lunch and dinner
  • Traditional Scottish breakfast
  • 24-hour emergency contact number
  • Full financial protection

Your walking holiday doesn't include:

  • Travel insurance
  • Transport to and from the start and end of the walk
  • Lunches and evening meals

Itineraries & Prices

We offer 2 suggested itineraries for walking the John Muir Way.

Our most popular itinerary is JMW1 which covers the route in 10 days.

Tour code
Itinerary
Average miles infoAverage miles per day
Difficulty infoLevel of difficulty
Price per person
JMW1
10 Days / 11 Nights
13.5 miles per day
Moderate
From £1045
Average miles infoAverage miles per day 13.5 miles per day
Tour code: JMW1
Difficulty infoLevel of difficulty Moderate

10 Days / 11 Nights (JMW1)

This itinerary lists our preferred overnight stops for this package. Transfers are included when you are staying away from the trail.

Additional nights can be added at any stage along the walk and we would be delighted to adjust it for you.

All of our prices are per person based on two people sharing a room. Our packages include all accommodation, baggage transfers and full information pack.

Additional information

Due to the extremely high cost of accommodation in Edinburgh in August the following supplements will be added to any overnight stay in Edinburgh during the festival season.

  • Premium: £60 per person per night
  • Standard: £40 per person per night

Single room & solo walker supplements

Single rooms are available at a supplement which covers the additional costs of a single room or single occupancy of a twin or double room.

  • Premium: £55 per night
  • Standard: £30 per night

As we incur additional costs for transferring a single bag there is a solo walker supplement of £15 per day in addition to the single supplement.

Arrive Travel to Helensburgh for your first night's accommodation
1
Day 1 Helensburgh to Balloch 9 miles / 15 km
2
Day 2 Balloch to Strathblane 18.5 miles / 29.5 km
3
Day 3 Strathblane to Auchinstarry 13 miles / 21 km
4
Day 4 Auchinstarry to Falkirk 13 miles / 21 km
5
Day 5 Falkirk to Linlithgow 8.5 miles / 13 km
6
Day 6 Linlithgow to South Queensferry 14 miles / 22.5 km
7
Day 7 South Queensferry to Edinburgh 15.5 miles / 25 km
8
Day 8 Edinburgh to Port Seton 12 miles / 19 km
9
Day 9 Port Seton to North Berwick 14.5 miles / 23 km
10
Day 10 North Berwick to Dunbar 15 miles / 24 km
Depart Onward travel from Dunbar

Prices

Premium
Best available Guest Houses, Inns & Hotels
£1330 per person

Carefully selected guest houses, inns and hotels throughout your walk, which will be the best available in each location. As premium accommodation is in short supply on this trail, please note that some establishments will be of a higher standard than others. En-suite facilities or private bathroom guaranteed.

Standard
Good quality B&Bs, Guest Houses & Hotels
£1045 per person

Good quality and comfortable B&Bs, guest houses and some hotels located as close to the trail as possible. We will prioritise en-suite facilities or a private bathroom, although in remote areas with limited accommodation this may not always be possible.

JMW2
11 Days / 12 Nights
12 miles per day
Moderate
From £1130
Average miles infoAverage miles per day 12 miles per day
Tour code: JMW2
Difficulty infoLevel of difficulty Moderate

11 Days / 12 Nights (JMW2)

This itinerary lists our preferred overnight stops for this package. Transfers are included when you are staying away from the trail.

Additional nights can be added at any stage along the walk and we would be delighted to adjust it for you.

All of our prices are per person based on two people sharing a room. Our packages include all accommodation, baggage transfers and full information pack.

Additional information

Due to the extremely high cost of accommodation in Edinburgh in August the following supplements will be added to any overnight stay in Edinburgh during the festival season.

  • Premium: £60 per person per night
  • Standard: £40 per person per night

Single room & solo walker supplements

Single rooms are available at a supplement which covers the additional costs of a single room or single occupancy of a twin or double room.

  • Premium: £55 per night
  • Standard: £30 per night

As we incur additional costs for transferring a single bag there is a solo walker supplement of £15 per day in addition to the single supplement.

Arrive Travel to Helensburgh for your first night's accommodation
1
Day 1 Helensburgh to Balloch 9 miles / 15 km
2
Day 2 Balloch to Drymen 11.5 miles / 18.5 km
3
Day 3 Drymen to Strathblane 7 miles / 11 km
4
Day 4 Strathblane to Auchinstarry 13 miles / 21 km
5
Day 5 Auchinstarry to Falkirk 13 miles / 21 km
6
Day 6 Falkirk to Linlithgow 8.5 miles / 13 km
7
Day 7 Linlithgow to South Queensferry 14 miles / 22.5 km
8
Day 8 South Queensferry to Edinburgh 15.5 miles / 25 km
9
Day 9 Edinburgh to Port Seton 12 miles / 19 km
10
Day 10 Port Seton to North Berwick 14.5 miles / 23 km
11
Day 11 North Berwick to Dunbar 15 miles / 24 km
Depart Onward travel from Dunbar

Prices

Premium
Best available Guest Houses, Inns & Hotels
£1410 per person

Carefully selected guest houses, inns and hotels throughout your walk, which will be the best available in each location. As premium accommodation is in short supply on this trail, please note that some establishments will be of a higher standard than others. En-suite facilities or private bathroom guaranteed.

Standard
Good quality B&Bs, Guest Houses & Hotels
£1130 per person

Good quality and comfortable B&Bs, guest houses and some hotels located as close to the trail as possible. We will prioritise en-suite facilities or a private bathroom, although in remote areas with limited accommodation this may not always be possible.

John Muir Way Accommodation

All of the accommodation that we reserve for you has been personally selected by our expert team to ensure it meets our exacting standards. We regularly review our extensive database.

We will always prioritise accommodation as close to the walking trail as possible. Occasionally, your accommodation may be located a short distance from the trail, or you may need to spend more than one night in the same place, in which case we will provide return transfers.

Travel Information

As an environmentally conscious tour operator, we actively encourage the use of public transport by providing clients with a detailed breakdown of travel options in their information packs. The following information may help with your pre-trip planning.

Getting to Helensburgh
By Air

Nearest International Airports: Glasgow International Airport and Edinburgh Airport.

An airport shuttle bus operates between Glasgow International Airport and Glasgow city centre (journey time 25 min). There is also a regular airport bus shuttle service between Edinburgh Airport and Glasgow (journey time 55 min)

From Glasgow, you can travel to Helensburgh by train or taxi.

By Public Transport

Nearest Railway Station: Helensburgh Central.

Helensburgh is located 30 miles west of Glasgow city centre and 22 miles from Glasgow International Airport. The taxi fare from Glasgow Airport is approximately £30 (journey time 30 min), and from the city centre to Helensburgh approximately £45 (journey time 45 min). 

Train services operate from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Helensburgh Central Station (journey time 45 min). Frequent railway services operate from on the West Coast Mainline from across the UK to Glasgow.

The journey time from Edinburgh to Glasgow is approximately 1 hour and from London Euston to Glasgow Central Station is approximately 5 hours.

By Car

If you plan to travel by car, you may wish to park in Glasgow or Edinburgh for the duration of your walk, so you can travel by public transport to Helensburgh and back from Dunbar. We can advise you about parking options when you make your enquiry.

Departing Dunbar
By Air

Nearest major International Airports: Edinburgh Airport and Newcastle Airport.

Dunbar is conveniently situated on the East Coast Main Line. Direct rail services run to Edinburgh (journey time 30 min), Newcastle (1 hour 10 min) and London (4 hours 30 min).

All airports run regular public transport services from the city centres. An airport shuttle bus and tram runs from Edinburgh city centre to Edinburgh Airport (journey time 30 min). From Newcastle city centre to Newcastle Airport, the metro takes 25 min.

By Public Transport

Nearest Railway Station: Dunbar Station.

Dunbar is conveniently situated on the East Coast Main Line. Direct rail services run to Edinburgh (journey time 30 min), Newcastle (1 hour 10 min) and London (4 hours 30 min).

As the train services can be very busy, we recommend booking your tickets in advance.

There is also a regular bus service connecting Edinburgh to Dunbar, Cockburnspath, St Abbs, Eyemouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed. The service is run by Borders Buses.

By Car

If you plan to travel by car, you may wish to park in Glasgow or Edinburgh for the duration of your walk, so you can travel by public transport to Helensburgh and back from Dunbar. We can advise you about parking options when you make your enquiry.

Additional Days

We would be delighted to arrange additional accommodation for you along the John Muir Way.

You may wish to plan a rest day or have an additional night at any of the locations along the route which offer activities or sightseeing opportunities – we’ve made some suggestions below. Please request this when you make an enquiry.

Balloch
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  • Take a cruise on the famous Loch Lomond from Balloch Pier
  • Explore more of Scotland’s first National Park by bike, ferry or even kayak
  • Visit the resident Paddle Steamer, Maid of the Loch
Falkirk
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  • Visit The Kelpies, Scotland’s colossal equine sculptures, next to the Forth & Clyde Canal
  • Take a breath-taking boat trip on the Falkirk Wheel and explore the fascinating Visitor Centre
South Queensferry
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  • Wander the cobbled streets of this historic town
  • Take a boat trip to the Abbey on Inchcolm Island in the Firth of Forth, and enjoy some fine views of the Forth Bridges
  • Take a train over the iconic Forth Rail Bridge to North Queensferry
Edinburgh
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  • Explore the medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town of Edinburgh, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Visit Edinburgh Castle, explore the Royal Mile & The Palace of Holyroodhouse
  • Lose yourself in the many alleyways and streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town
  • Sample some of the many great bars and restaurants in the city
North Berwick
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  • Relax in this popular seaside resort
  • Climb North Berwick Law
  • Visit the National Museum of Flight and the Scottish Seabird Centre
Dunbar
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  • Visit John Muir’s Birthplace, an interpretative centre which explores the work and achievements of this remarkable man. Learn more about the life and work of this pioneering conservationist which has inspired people all over the world
  • Play a round of golf at a classic links golf course
  • Visit the ruins of Dunbar Castle overlooking Dunbar’s three harbours, still host to a small fishing fleet

Make an enquiry

John Muir Way

Need something more tailored?
Contact us via email:
enquiries@absoluteescapes.com

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