America, Countries, Pilgrimage, UK

The man who walks 1000 miles

And John Muir would walk 500 miles, and John Muir would walk 500 more, to be the man who walks 1000 miles to fall down at your bar.

Scot John Muir, the Father of America’s National Parks, famously walked 1000 miles from Indiana to Florida in 1867, aged 29.

The great naturist, from Dunbar, went walkabout to explore the natural world and chronicle it in his book A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf.

For the rest of us we can walk in the Great Man’s footsteps today… and without even leaving our own country.

If our own homeland is his, Scotland.

Muir’s the Merrier

Walk this way: And an ostrich away to stick his head in the sand, near Dunbar

The John Muir Way runs 134 miles from Helensburgh on the west coast to Muir’s hometown of Dunbar in the east.

Now I’m billeted by the John Muir Way in sleepy North Berwick, I joined the trail here, 13.2 miles out.

With three other fitter Fiftysomethings.

And one namesake Jimmy, for whom this was a stroll in the park.

He had climbed a Munro, a mountain over 3000ft, which we Scots like to bag.

And of which there are 282, the highest of which is Ben Nevis which at 4411ft is the highest in Britain.

Come on Nature

Sweet: Dougie keeps us refuelled with Tipsy Truffle sweets

And so with the wind at our backs, the Firth of Forth to our left, and the Bass Rock as our reference point we set out on our 5-hour hike.

Only interrupted on the narrow paths by cyclists we held the advantage.

Of being able to catch up and talk to each other

And to take in the joys of nature which so inspired Muir with the herons a highlight.

Platinum Disc: John Muir Way

Plenty of sheep too (well, this is Scotland), which would have displeased Muir who took against them for spoiling the Sierra.

Tagging them ‘walking locusts’ he termed them thus:

‘A sheep can hardly be called an animal; an entire flock is required to make one foolish individual.’

Nor would Muir have recognised the ostriches or llamas, exotic wildlife taken to Scotland to entertain families at such as the East Links Family Park.

Thirsty work

Parklife: The East Links Family Park, near Dunbar

The Park is a good marker for walkers, between the Belhaven Bridge and Brewery.

As it’ll let you know that you’re almost there.

There’s still work to do though when you get to Dunbar, a longish walk up Shore Road to the High Street.

And in the week that’s in it that means gauging how much interest, or otherwise, there is.

In the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

So that’ll be some bunting, bizarrely a full-sized cardboard cut-out of the Queen in someone’s hallway.

And also Christmas decorations (unlit) which some poor guy has doubtless promised to take down.

And is being nagged mercilessly about it.

Put him on a podium: The John Muir Statue, Dunbar

Refuel too with chocolate (you deserve it) at the newly-opened The Tipsy Truffle

And I recommend the Bass Rock, beautifully shaped and light and dreamy.

For those of us who don’t have a lift and need to get home the Dunbar train takes you into Edinburgh in just 24 minutes.

The Man: John Muir

Time it though so you can have a cheeky craft beer pint at the charming Station Yard.. mine’s a PeelyWally IPA.

Now relubricating is one of the rewards of a long walk.

And I recall a very different experience with CanariaWays in Afur in Tenerife at the end of a baking hot day.

When our bar was a General Franco time capsule.

And a few miles more

Friends across the water: John Muir’s Birthplace Museum, Dunbar

And so (deep breath) it’s the day after and recovery time.

If I am the man who walks 1000 miles I’ll need to rest up…

I’ve another 987 to go, or 121 if it’s the Scots John Muir Way.