John Muir, who had always considered himself a Scot, returned to his birthplace in 1893 to explore more of the country that first sparked his love of the natural world. You too can follow in his footsteps and visit some of Scotland’s most outstanding natural and historic attractions this year. It marks the 120th year since Muir’s homecoming, the 175th anniversary of his birth and the Year of Natural Scotland.
For more information about John Muir, visit the John Muir Trust.
Start your journey in Scotland’s cosmopolitan capital which John Muir admired for its geology. See Edinburgh Castle dominate the skyline atop an extinct volcano or enjoy spectacular views across the city to Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags from Calton Hill, and the Royal Botanic Garden - considered to be one of the finest botanical gardens in the world.
With its rugged natural beauty and diverse wildlife habitats it is easy to see why Muir took much of his inspiration from his home region of East Lothian. Follow the John Muir Way and soak up the magnificent views, including the spectacular coastline. East Lothian is also a haven for seabirds, with the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick and the world’s largest single island colony of gannets on the Bass Rock which lies just off the coast.
Ayrshire & Arran and Dumfries & Galloway
Muir also explored the land that inspired the work of Scotland’s National Bard. Ayrshire & Arran and Dumfries & Galloway are home to a wealth of Burns' heritage along with a number of stunning natural landscapes and historical attractions. These include Culzean Castle and the UK’s only Dark Sky Park at Galloway Forest Park.
The Scottish Borders
Another of Muir’s favourite writers was Sir Walter Scott, and it was in the Scottish Borders that he visited the home and burial place of the renowned literary figure. Follow the Borders Abbeys Way and discover the four great abbeys in Kelso, Jedburgh, Melrose and Dryburgh amid beautiful countryside.
Loch Lomond, The Trossachs & Forth Valley
En route to the Highlands, Muir stopped at Stirling to view the castle and the monuments of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. He then made his way through the Trossachs and visited Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine - two of Scotland’s most picturesque lochs.
Muir concluded his trip to Scotland in Highlands, where he wrote that ‘hundreds of miles thereabouts were covered with heather in full bloom’. The Cairngorms National Park, the largest National Park in the UK, is home to abundant wildlife, and with places such as Urquhart Castle, Loch Morlich, Glen Coe and Eilean Donan Castle, you will find a wealth of natural and historical sites.