IT’S a year till the official launch of the John Muir Trail - and a huge amount of work has already been completed.
The new long distance route, which passes through East Dunbartonshire, will open on John Muir’s birthday on April 21 2014 and forms part of the celebrations to mark the centenary of the Scots born naturalist’s death.
It will link Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar to Helensburgh via Scotland’s first National Park - Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
The trail will celebrate John Muir’s life, promoting his ideas and providing a memorable walking experience for both local people and overseas visitors.
At 105 miles (169km), the trail will follow some existing routes such as the John Muir Way in East Lothian.
In other sections, new paths are being created to enable walkers, cyclists and horse riders to easily visit some of the most beautiful coastal scenery, sweeping landscapes, wildlife sites and historic visitor attractions across Scotland’s heartland.
Although the full route is not yet open, there have been many local path improvements, giving walkers and cyclists a boost already.
In East Dunbartonshire, the Trail passes through Kirkintilloch gives people an opportunity to discover the fascinating history of the Antonine Wall.
The route will be waymarked with The John Muir Trail signs, and a website, book, leaflets and map will give people all the information they need to complete part or all of the trail.
Conservationist John Muir was born in Dunbar in 1838, before emigrating to the United States in 1849.
Amongst his achievements, he helped save the Yosemite Valley in California, was a co-founder of The Sierra Club – one of the most influential grassroots environmental organisations in the USA – and successfully campaigned for National Parks in America.
Creating a new John Muir Trail is a flagship project for the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN).
Keith Geddes, Chair of the CSGN Partnership Board, which developed the concept of the route, said: “John Muir is considered one of the patron saints of 20th century American environmental activity.
“He is noted for being a conservationist, naturalist, geologist, inventor and explorer.
“This is why the new route is a fitting way to celebrate a man who through his life, writings and legacy, could inspire a new generation of Scots to recognise the value of nature and the outdoors.
It’s a great way to highlight the fact that he was born in Scotland and that one of his great achievements was to play a central part in establishing national parks in the United States.”