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

11 to 13 nights
135 miles
Moderate / Demanding
2nd January to 24th December

From £1435 per person

John Muir Way

The full John Muir Way trail traverses more than 130 miles along the breath of Scotland from Helensburgh in the west to Dunbar in the east. Along the way, the walk encounters roman ruins, old distilleries, impressive castles and many more intriguing historic landmarks, as well as plenty of charming towns and villages, each with their own unique stories to share.

The scenery along the John Muir Way is fantastically diverse, showcasing sparkling lochs, rolling hills, unspoilt coastlines and rugged mountains, with plenty to discover throughout your walk.

Available tours

Code Tour Duration Difficulty Price per person
JMW1 From Helensburgh to Dunbar 11 nights, 10 days walking Moderate / Demanding £1435
JMW2 From Helensburgh to Dunbar 12 nights, 11 days walking Moderate / Demanding £1565
JMW3 From Helensburgh to Dunbar 13 nights, 12 days walking Moderate / Demanding £1690

John Muir Way 11 nights, 10 days walking

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

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)

Day 8

Edinburgh to Cockenzie(L). 11.5 miles (18.5km)

Day 9

Cockenzie(L) to North Berwick. 15 miles (24km)

Day 10

North Berwick to Dunbar. 15 miles (24km)

Finish

Depart from Dunbar 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
Standard
Interactive
© Contours Walking Holidays John Muir Way map
Helensburgh to Dunbar
135 miles (216 km)
2nd January to 24th December

Holiday highlights

Crossing through the beautiful heartland of Scotland from coast to coast.

Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Antonine Wall and the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh.

Exploring the many fascinating locations along the trail, including Balloch Castle, Bar Hill Fort, Hopetoun House, Dirleton Castle and, of course, the John Muir Birthplace and Museum.

What's included?

  • 11 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

Edinburgh 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.

To add a touch of the seaside to your walk, consider a rest day at Helensburgh or Dunbar. 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. Dunbar offers sandy beaches and the ruin of Dunbar castle, crouched on an outcropping of rock overlooking the harbour. This was the birthplace of John Muir, and the museum about him is accessible from the town high street.

Falkirk, too, offers excellent sites to explore, including a French ch?teau set in Scottish countryside at Callendar House and fantastic architecture in the town itself.

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: 135 miles (216 km)
Duration: 11 nights, 10 days walking
Minimum daily distance: 9 miles (14.5 km)
Maximum daily distance: 18.5 miles (29.5 km)
Code: JMW1 Grade: Moderate / Demanding
Season: 2nd January - 24th December
Start of holiday: Helensburgh
End of holiday: Dunbar

Route Profile

John Muir Way 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 -which is most convenient will depend upon the location of your accommodation. There is a rail station at the end of the trail (Dunbar).

By Bus

Various bus services run to Helensburgh and from Dunbar.

From London

Trains run from London Kings Cross & London 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 Dunbar 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.
"Callander Park in Falkirk" by Jinru Chen (2019) "Callander Park in Falkirk" by Jinru Chen (2019)
"A Wringing Spider Web" by Jinru Chen (2019) "A Wringing Spider Web" by Jinru Chen (2019)
"View from Corstorphine Hill" by Thomas Witzel (2018) "View from Corstorphine Hill" by Thomas Witzel (2018)
"Bass Rock" by Thomas Witzel (2018) "Bass Rock" by Thomas Witzel (2018)
"Forth Bridge" by Thomas Witzel (2018) "Forth Bridge" by Thomas Witzel (2018)
"View from Port Seton" by Thomas Witzel (2018) "View from Port Seton" by Thomas Witzel (2018)
"Dumgoyne" by Thomas Witzel (2018) "Dumgoyne" by Thomas Witzel (2018)
"Preston Mill in East Linton" by Pirson Marc (2018) "Preston Mill in East Linton" by Pirson Marc (2018)
"Sycamore Forest before Aberlady" by Pirson Marc (2018) "Sycamore Forest before Aberlady" by Pirson Marc (2018)
"Belhaven Bridge" by Pirson Marc (2018) "Belhaven Bridge" by Pirson Marc (2018)
"Sammy and the Seagulls in Dunbar Harbour" by Pirson Marc (2018) "Sammy and the Seagulls in Dunbar Harbour" by Pirson Marc (2018)
"Avon Aqueduct" by Arthur Brown (2017) "Avon Aqueduct" by Arthur Brown (2017)
"Shorefront Promenade at Prestopans" by Arthur Brown (2017) "Shorefront Promenade at Prestopans" by Arthur Brown (2017)
"Structure in Cockenzie" by Elizabeth Hurrell (2022) "Structure in Cockenzie" by Elizabeth Hurrell (2022)
"Stoneymollan Road" by Mary Brown (2017) "Stoneymollan Road" by Mary Brown (2017)
"Helensburgh and the Clyde" by Mary Brown (2017) "Helensburgh and the Clyde" by Mary Brown (2017)
"Tyne Estuary" by Mary Brown (2017) "Tyne Estuary" by Mary Brown (2017)
"Dunbar Castle" by Bill Borie (2017) "Dunbar Castle" by Bill Borie (2017)
"Union Canal" by Bill Borie (2017) "Union Canal" by Bill Borie (2017)
"On the beach at North Berwick" by Elizabeth Hurrell (2022) "On the beach at North Berwick" by Elizabeth Hurrell (2022)

Customer reviews from the John Muir Way

“Immensely. Everything was perfectly arranged with good directions to each accommodation. Enjoyable route, easy walking. Great hosts. I have already recommended this holiday to others. Will book another holiday with you, just need to wait for the body, and the bank, to recover.”
Ms Freeberg-Hagen, USA
“It was wonderful. Everyone replied to our questions quickly and helpfully.”
Ms Yatsko, USA
“All expectations were met or exceeded. Maps, luggage transfer and lodgings were very well done. The material sent prior to the walk was most helpful, particularly about local transportation options. Keep up the good work.”
Mr Crocker, USA
“Brilliant to be back in Scotland. I really enjoyed this one. Lots of scenic variety, ranging from hills and forests in the west, canals and the Antonine Wall in the centre, and coastal walking in the east. Also lots of extras to see and do along the way - I had a boat trip on Loch Lomond, a ride on the Falkirk Wheel, and climbed Arthur's Seat and Berwick Law.”
Mr Julyan, UK
“The walk was an excellent way of connecting to the West Highland Way from the Pennine Way. Surprisingly rural and quiet most of the time. The digital route supplied worked well but most of the Route had excellent on the ground signage. I think this makes an excellent link route when doing a longer version of Land’s End to John o’ Groats.”
Mr Dowling, Ireland
“A wonderful holiday across beautiful scenery with many interesting sights. Highly recommend this holiday but it's a bit of a challenge in some spots. Met many nice Scottish folks who were very helpful when I had difficulties finding my way in two places. I would definitely recommend this holiday to others. Already looking at alternatives for 2023. Will be in touch.”
Mr Kuhns, USA
“Varied and interesting walk. I knew before I went that it went through populated areas of the central belt but I was keen to see them on foot. I was surprised by how unexploited the canals are.”
Mr Moon, UK
“Interesting, fun, scenic.”
Ms Schnitger, USA
“Another enjoyable holiday thanks to Contours. A well maintained path with excellent way marks. Not a classic walk (ie not in the same class as Pennine Way, Offa's Dyke, West Highland way and some of my coastal paths) but I enjoyed it. Loved it! I was fairly lucky with the weather - just 3 wet days.”
Mr Duthoit, UK
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