John Muir Way

John Muir Way

Cross the magnificent Scottish heartland in honour of the 'Father of National Parks'.

4 to 13 nights
42-135 miles
Moderate to Moderate / Demanding

From £530 per person

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About the trail

Named for the ‘Father of National Parks’, the John Muir Way is an energetic walk that strings together the best sights of the Scottish heartland along low-level, approachable paths. Pack your walk with visits to the Glengoyne Distillery, the Roman remains at the Antonine Wall, the world’s only rotating boat lift, the Falkirk Wheel, and Edinburgh Castle, to name but a handful of possibilities.

Canal paths, smooth trails, and old coffin roads lead the trail along lochsides and through rolling fields, with beautiful coastal views over the Firth of Forth. John Muir was all for making the best of the countryside more accessible, and this celebratory route does an excellent job of it.

We offer multiple holiday options along this trail. If you wish to experience the entire trail, simply select the first option from the list below.

Choose your route

  • John Muir Way
  • John Muir Way - West Section
  • John Muir Way - East Section

About this route

8 to 9 nights
94 miles
Moderate / Demanding
2nd January to 24th December

From £1035 per person

John Muir Way - West Section

From Helensburgh to Scotland’s capital of Edinburgh, the west section of the John Muir Way follows coffin roads, canal paths, dismantled railways and a stretch of the West Highland Way through flourishing countryside, omitting the coastal stretch at the eastern end of the trail.

This half of the route enjoys staggering views across Loch Lomond and some of the wildest parts of the John Muir Way as it passes Lennoxtown and Kirkintilloch. The 14th century Callendar Park and House lie on the route, too, and the broad Union Canal leads the way into Edinburgh, a grand city full of history, architecture and all kinds of shops, museums and theatres.

Available tours

Code Tour Duration Difficulty Price per person
JMWW1 From Helensburgh to Edinburgh 8 nights, 7 days walking Moderate / Demanding £1035
JMWW2 From Helensburgh to Edinburgh 9 nights, 8 days walking Moderate / Demanding £1160

John Muir Way - West Section 8 nights, 7 days walking

£NNN per person
  • Itinerary
  • What's included?
  • Extra nights?
  • Tour facts
  • Route profile
  • Travel info
  • Weather
  • Holiday Highlights

Travel to Helensburgh where your first night's accommodation will be booked

Day 1

Helensburgh to Balloch. 9 miles (14.5km)

Day 2

Balloch to Strathblane(L). 18.5 miles (29.5km)

Day 3

Strathblane(L) to Kilsyth(L). 13.5 miles (21.5km)

Day 4

Kilsyth(L) to Falkirk. 13 miles (21km)

Day 5

Falkirk to Linlithgow. 9.5 miles (15km)

Day 6

Linlithgow to South Queensferry. 14.5 miles (23.5km)

Day 7

South Queensferry to Edinburgh. 15.5 miles (24.5km)


Depart from Edinburgh after breakfast

Your Itinerary

This itinerary lists our preferred overnight stops for this tour. Sometimes there may be a shortage of available accommodation in a preferred location, in which case we will transfer you from the trail to your accommodation and back again at no extra charge. Overnight stops marked with a (T) will always require transfers as standard.

Overnight stops marked with an (L) have very limited accommodation, and therefore more often than not will also require a transfer, particularly on bank holidays and weekends. We will use non-transfer accommodation wherever possible.

The daily mileages quoted are average trail miles only and do not include the distance from the trail to your accommodation. We do not expect you to have to travel more than a mile from the trail to your accommodation in most cases; should your accommodation be further than this, transfers will be provided as standard if practical. A very limited number of stops will require you to travel on foot up to two miles off the trail, however these instances will be clearly communicated to you if applicable.

Further transfers may also be required due to some accommodations having a two-night minimum booking policy, especially at weekends.

Below are the additional costs that may apply depending on your requirements. Dog-friendly tours are subject to a Daily Dog Charge, which will be listed below if applicable. Our standard prices per person are based upon two people sharing a room; if you are on your own, or are part of a group but require a room of your own, then the Solo Traveller or Single Supplements apply respectively:

A note about transfers
Solo Traveller Supplement
£75.00 per person / per night
Single Supplement
£55.00 per person / per night

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

Extra night (Standard)
£65.00 per person / per night
Extra night (Edinburgh)
Price on request
Extra night (South Queensferry)
£75.00 per person / per night
Extra night (Strathblane(L))
£75.00 per person / per night
© Contours Walking Holidays John Muir Way - West Section map
Helensburgh to Edinburgh
94 miles (150 km)
2nd January to 24th December

Holiday highlights

Stopping for a sip of whisky at Glengoyne Distillery, where the distilling process takes longer than anywhere else in Scotland.

Walking along dismantled railways through what feels like deep, desolate wilderness as the route departs the foot of Campsie Fells.

Gazing up at the Falkirk Wheel, the only rotating boat lift in the world.

What's included?

  • 8 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms (where available) in selected B&B’s, hotels, inns and guesthouses along the trail, or a short distance away via taxi provided at our expense.
  • Breakfast each day.
  • Door to door luggage transfer.
  • Maps with the route marked on and a guidebook or route notes describing the trail.
  • An information pack containing an itinerary, instructions on how to find your accommodation each night and a kit list.
  • Detailed travel instructions on how to get to the start of your holiday and back from the end of it.

Extra Nights & Rest Days

With beautiful views from its placement on the Clyde, Helensburgh plays host to Hill House, designed by the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and the fragrant Geilston Garden. A rest day here adds a day at the seaside to your walk, while one at Falkirk offers excellent sites to explore, including a French chateau set in Scottish countryside at Callendar House and fantastic architecture in the town itself.

Edinburgh, meanwhile, is a capital city like no other, offering a vast amount to see and do. Walk between the stone townhouses in the World Heritage Site of Old Town and New Town; visit Edinburgh Castle, perched atop the remains of an extinct volcano; or take in the incredible city skyline from Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park: you won't yet have touched the countless further museums, galleries, theatres and landmarks that Edinburgh offers.

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

Extra night (Standard)
£65.00 per person / per night
Extra night (Edinburgh)
Price on request
Extra night (South Queensferry)
£75.00 per person / per night
Extra night (Strathblane(L))
£75.00 per person / per night

Tour Facts

Total distance: 93.5 miles (149.5 km)
Duration: 8 nights, 7 days walking
Minimum daily distance: 9 miles (14.5 km)
Maximum daily distance: 18.5 miles (29.5 km)
Code: JMWW1 Grade: Moderate / Demanding
Season: 2nd January - 24th December
Start of holiday: Helensburgh
End of holiday: Edinburgh

Route Profile

John Muir Way - West Section Route Profile

Travel Information

Useful information and travel links that will assist you in your plans to travel to the start of the holiday and back from the end of it are sent to you with your full tour pack. A summary is given below:

By Air

The most convenient major city and international airports are Edinburgh, Glasgow and Glasgow Prestwick.

By Rail

There is a choice of rail stations at the start of the trail (Helensburgh). Helensburgh Central or Helensburgh Upper - the most convenient will depend upon the location of your accommodation. There is a choice of rail stations at the end of the trail (Edinburgh). The nearest station to Edinburgh city centre is at Edinburgh Waverley.

By Bus

Various bus services run to Helensburgh and from Edinburgh.

From London

Trains run from London Kings Cross & Euston stations to Helensburgh Central.

Return to Start

The easiest way to return to the start of the trail, is to take the train from Edinburgh to Helensburgh.

Weather Information

To find out more about the weather forecast for your chosen holiday's general location, please see the following websites:

  • MetCheck - This website allows you to look up detailed weather information for specific locations as far as six months in advance.
  • Met Office - This website shows regional area forecasts a few days in advance, with a general UK forecast description of up to 30 days in advance.
  • Mountain Forecast - This website shows what the forecast is like up on specific hills and fells, and offers forecasts a few days in advance.

Customer reviews from the John Muir Way - West Section

“Interesting walk, well signposted, did complete the East section under my own arrangements so I was pleased to do the whole John Muir Way.”
Mrs Wood, UK
“We enjoyed beautiful walks! We walked more on hard surfaces/tarmac than we expected, which made it tougher to keep up the walking. The holiday pack was very useful for our day-to-day planning. The transfer of our luggage worked out great every day, as did the taxi transfers to and from our overnight locations. Both walking holidays we booked with you were very enjoyable. More so because everything was arranged perfectly!”
Mrs Maas-Emmen, Netherlands
“All went very smoothly, thanks for organising it. Interesting and successful holiday.”
Mrs Murray, UK
“We had a lovely walking tour. We very much enjoyed the trip and appreciate Contours' assistance with our special arrangements. We have told others of our three wonderful trips with Contours and highly recommended your company.”
Ms Green, USA
“We had an awesome time! The trip exceeded our expectations! I already have recommended this holiday several times. I sure hope to book another holiday with you!”
Mr Fuglestad, UK
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