Plans are afoot to set up a new walking trail across Scotland in honour of a pioneer of national parks.
The John Muir Trail is planned to run from Dunbar in East Lothian to Greenock on the Firth of Clyde and proponents hope it will rival the already established West Highland Way and the Southern Upland Way.
The final route of the new trail has yet to be decided, but options include it passing through significant points in Muir’s life, such as Broomielaw Quay in Glasgow, from where he set sail for the United States.
Dunbar is the pioneer’s birthplace and Greenock where he took his final steps on Scottish soil before emigrating. Part of the route is likely to follow the existing 73km (-mile) John Muir Way in East Lothian.
Planners hope to have the trail in place for the centenary of John Muir’s death in 2014.
If it goes ahead, the long-distance path will be the world’s third John Muir Trail – the first being a 340km (211-mile) route in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, running from the Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney and the second a much shorter 33km (21-mile) recreational trail in Tennessee.
Local authorities will be consulted on notable Muir landmarks before the final recommendation is made by the Central Scotland Green Network to Scottish Natural Heritage, which is in favour of the scheme.
The hope is to attract international visitors, particularly from the USA where John Muir’s fame is widespread, as well as British walkers.
Keith Geddes, chair of the CSGN, told The Scotsman newspaper: “When I first went to Yosemite national park in 1975, my American friends said: ‘You’re Scottish, you tell us all about John Muir’, and I said ‘Who?’.
“Now I know how inspirational he is. We want to use some of his famous quotes on signs along the route.”
Scotland has four existing official long-distance routes, the biggest of which is the Southern Upland Way, running for 341km (212 miles) from Port Patrick to Cockburnspath in East Lothian. A link from the proposed John Muir Trail via the eastern section of the existing John Muir Way would enable the creation of a ‘super-route’ from the west coast to the east and returning to the West at Greenock.
The most popular long-distance route is the West Highland Way, extending for 155km (96 miles) from Milngavie on the northern fringe of Glasgow to Fort William.
This can be connected to the Great Glen Way, a 117km (73-mile) trail stretching from Fort William to Inverness.
Authorities are currently in discussions with landowners over the extension of the Speyside Way, a 135km (84-mile) path starting in Aviemore and ending at Buckie on the Moray coast.
In addition to these four, 10km (6 miles) of the northernmost section of the 429km (267-mile) Pennine Way are in Scotland.