East Dunbartonshire walkers divide and conquer John Muir Way

A group of East Dunbartonshire walkers have completed the 134-mile John Muir Way after splitting it into manageable sections over the past 18 months.

Kirkintilloch walking group

The 16-strong group – all members of the Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre Walking Group – are celebrating after walking the final section of their coast-to-coast challenge which they started early last year.

The walkers, who have an average age of 71, took on the last stage on Tuesday which saw them walk seven-and-a-half miles from East Linton to Dunbar, the birthplace of John Muir.

And, more members of the walking group, which is run by East Dunbartonshire Leisure and Culture (EDLC) and supported by Scotland’s walking charity Paths for All, are also expected to complete the John Muir Way in the coming months. Jim Hood, one of the group’s walk leaders who came up with idea said:

Our Thursday morning walking group is very popular and attracts around 50 people. The group has four different levels and one of the groups was looking for a longer walk and more of a challenge.
I looked at the John Muir Way but realised it was just too long to do all at once.
So, I split the route up into 19 sections, with each section being between five and 13 miles.
Now 16 of us have finished it but there are other walkers from the group who are also nearly there, and a few of them only have one or two more sections to go.

Sandy Marshall, Chairperson of EDLC Trust said: “EDLC is delighted that our successful Walk Project and volunteer-led health walks have contributed to the completion of the John Muir Way by this inspirational group. Our leisure programme is inclusive and we encourage people of all ages and fitness levels to get involved."

The John Muir Way, named after the Scots-born American conservationist, is a walking and cycling route from Helensburgh in the west to Dunbar in the east. It is fully way-marked and can be completed in nine to 11 days as an end-to-end expedition, or cycled in four to five days. The route has been divided into 10 suggested sections for those who would like to complete the route in stages.

Learning about John Muir and his passion for protecting the environment has also inspired the Kirkintilloch walking group to tackle environmental problems in their town.

In April, they organised a litter pick on the Strathkelvin Railway path towards Milton of Campsie, part of the John Muir Way route in Kirkintilloch.

Keith Geddes, Chairperson of the Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT), said: “Congratulations to the walkers on completing the John Muir Way this week – what a great achievement. Breaking down the route into stages is a fantastic way for walkers of all ages to enjoy the John Muir Way at their own pace. It’s also great to hear that the group were inspired by John Muir and completed a litter pick as part of their expedition.

"We’d encourage anyone when out walking to do their part for our environment and collect and bin any rubbish they find.”

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