The John Muir Way12 Days & 11 Nights 4.6 Read 16 reviews
- Hike through Scotland’s heartland; mountains, canals, lochs, and coast paths
- Explore Edinburgh with its castle, museums, galleries and restaurants
- Visit the Falkirk Wheel and enjoy easy-going canalside walking
- Sample a 'wee dram' or two of whisky from Glengoyne Distillery
- Relax on the shores of Loch Lomond with a picnic
What To Expect
Classic Routes | If you’re the active, outdoorsy type, who’s interested in taking on the great routes of the world or looking for a challenge, then our Classic Routes are for you. We’re talking the West Highland Way, Tour Du Mont Blanc and the Passau to Vienna Danube Cycle Path, to name but a few!
Inn to Inn Walking | Walk from place-to-place changing accommodations each night. Generally staying in B&B’s, inns, and guesthouses.
This trip is suitable for:
Ideal if you have an interest in:
- Long-Distance Trails
- Accessible by Rail
Grade & Terrain
This walk is graded moderate and follows footpaths, gravel tracks and canal pathways. You should have a good level of walking fitness to get the most from this tour.
The trail is very well way-marked and you will receive a comprehensive guide book with maps to ensure you find your way. There is an unofficial alternative route that takes you through Edinburgh (as the 'official route' bypasses the city), and we will provide you with information accordingly. The route comprises of hill and mountain tracks (so some ascent/descent), riverside trails, minor roads and highland paths. We also provide the GPS tracks in our Macs Adventure Smartphone App if you wish to navigate in this way.
One of the highlights of this tour is the high standard of accommodation. You will stay in carefully selected 3 or 4-star B&B’s, guesthouses, country pubs, and small hotels. Your room will always have an ensuite or private bathroom. A delicious breakfast is always included.
We will always try and accommodate you at the locations detailed in your itinerary. Occasionally, because of limited availability (and to ensure you enjoy an excellent standard of accommodation), we may have to accommodate you at an alternative location. In the event that we feel it is best to accommodate you a little further from the trail, we will advise you of this before confirming your booking (and transfers may also be provided). Please note that alternative accommodation may result in shorter/longer distances in the itinerary. Our expert Scotland team will liaise with your accordingly to make sure you have the best possible experience.
Single Rooms & Solo Walkers
This holiday is available to solo walkers, although a solo walker supplement is payable (due to the fact that you are not splitting the cost of the room with another person). If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate your request, although it is not generally possible to secure more than three single rooms in a party. A single supplement is payable.
Breakfast is included each morning while lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Your accommodation will often be more than happy to provide a packed lunch on request and this can be booked on arrival and paid for locally, alternatively, your guidebook also includes details of local shops and convenient lunch stops on the way. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or at nearby pubs and restaurants.
- 11 Nights in hand-picked B&B's, guesthouses and small hotels
- 11 Breakfasts
- Baggage transfer
- Information pack and guidebook
- Access to detailed maps and GPX tracks with the Macs Adventure smartphone app
- 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our office
- Travel to Helensburgh / from Edinburgh
- Lunches, dinners, snacks & drinks
- Personal equipment
- Travel insurance (required)
- Additional nights along the route
When To Go
This tour is available to start any day of the week, between April and the end of September. If you are planning on travelling in August, please bear in mind that Edinburgh is very busy for the whole month due to the world-renowned Fringe Festival and Edinburgh Tattoo (pipe band competition). There will likely also be an supplement for overnights in Edinburgh during August due to increased accommodation costs at this time.
Getting to the Start
By Air: For international travellers Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports are are the most convenient. From Glasgow Airport there is a shuttle bus into the city centre (25 mins), and from Edinburgh Airport you can take a shuttle bus into the city centre (30 mins) or to Glasgow (60 mins).
By Train: Helensburgh is easily accessible by rail from Glasgow city centre (45 mins). Returning from Dunbar, it is 30 mins to Edinburgh and 1h30 approx. to central Glasgow. Trains between Glasgow and Edinburgh are regular, duration approx. 50-60 mins. Visit www.nationalrail.co.uk for timetables and tickets.
By Car: Helensburgh is 32 miles (45 mins) north of Glasgow off the A82. Parking (not secure) is available in Helensburgh.
Journey Planning: If travelling by public transport the website www.travelinescotland.com has an excellent journey planner.
Getting from the End
By Air: For international travellers Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports are are the most convenient. You can catch the train to Glasgow airport which takes approx. 3 hours or the train to Edinburgh which takes approx. 2 hours.
By Train: Dunbar has great transport links. Glasgow city centre is approx. a 2 hour journey and there are trains throughout the day. Edinburgh city centre is approx. a 1.5 hour journey and again there are a number of trains throughout the day. www.nationalrail.co.uk for timetables and tickets.
By Car: Glasgow city centre is a approx. a 2 hour drive and Edinburgh city centre is approx. a 45 minute drive. Please note that parking is limited in Dunbar but if you wanted to leave your car here for the duration of the trip then please ask if the accommodation has any parking facilities available.
Journey Planning: If travelling by public transport the website www.travelinescotland.com has an excellent journey planner.
Daily door to door baggage transfers are included in the price of your trip. We ask you to keep your baggage to a maximum of one bag per person with a maximum weight of 20kg.
At Macs Adventure, we work in partnership with many luggage transfer providers who set a limit on how many bags/suitcases they will transfer per person, and also the weight of the bag/suitcase. Your booking includes transfer of 1 bag per person. It is very important that you read the luggage information specific to your tour before departure. If you do not adhere to these limits, there is a great possibility that you will be charged locally both for extra bags or if they are too heavy. This limitation can be a challenge, especially as airlines generally have limits that are higher. However, our luggage providers have reasons for these limits (usually due to the Health and Safety of their employees), which we must respect.
The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing necessary items for example proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walk boots, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for the summer and also a day pack.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
We suggest you book as soon as know your plans as the John Muir Way is extremely popular especially over April/May and July/August. August in Edinburgh is booked months ahead, and prices may be higher during this time (due to the Fringe Festival).
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a day pack and hats/gloves etc.
Traditionally April/May has always been the most popular time of year for walking in Scotland because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although we believe any time between April and September offers a wonderful experience.
Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate walkers with dogs as many of the accommodation providers do not accept pets.
You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop.
ItineraryDay 1 Arrive Helensburgh
Your Scottish long distance trail starts on the west coast, at the lovely town of Helensburgh, nestled on the banks of the Clyde. It was from this area that an 11-year old John Muir set sail well over a century ago, bound for North American shores.
Balmillig is a cosy B&B located in Helensburgh, with excellent spacious showers and extra-long beds in either twin/super-king or king bedded options. The heated lounge/conservatory is comfortably furnished with games, books and lots of information about the local area.
All at No. 20 look forward to welcoming you to their award-winning accommodation.
In July 2012 No.20 was awarded 4 Star Grading from Visit Scotland Quality Assurers. In December 2015 they were awarded a 4 Star GOLD Award along with the VS "Taste our Best" award for providing great local Scottish produce on their breakfast menu.
No. 20 pride themselves on attention to detail. They are committed to ensuring their guests are well looked after and that their needs and expectations are met.
Please note: Check-in is between 3.30pm and 5.30pm - if you plan to arrive outwith this timeframe, please let the owners know in advance, to ensure someone is available for your check-in.
A Grade B listed mid-Victorian villa with individually designed and well proportioned rooms with tea and coffee making facilities. Close to town centre amenities. Shared guest lounge with TV, games room where you can play darts and billiards.
Helensburgh is known for its grand houses and in particular for the Hill House, an icon of design created by renowned Art Deco designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. If you have time, a visit to the house is well worthwhile before you set off on your journey.
Once in the hills enjoy fabulous sweeping views of your next destination, the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, shimmering against the backdrop of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Descend to Balloch, and perhaps take time this evening for a stroll alongside the water or if you arrive in the afternoon, take an optional paddle steamer or boat trip out onto the loch.
Woodvale B&B has four bedrooms, three of which have ensuite facilities and the fourth has use of a private bathroom with shower. All rooms have TV, WiFi, tea/coffee making facilities, hairdryer. Laundry facilities are available for a small charge. The B&B opens onto a small garden area. The surrounding Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park provides a beautiful setting.
The family welcome you to come and stay at Braeburn Cottage on their family run beef and sheep farm. Peacefully located on the hillside above Balloch with spectacular views towards Ben Lomond and the Trossachs. All rooms are en-suite with garden views.
Gowanlea is a privately-owned guest house based at the Loch Lomond side in Balloch. They are proud to be part of the unique collection of guest houses, bed and breakfasts and hotels to be awarded 4 stars from Visit Scotland, that still remain privately owned within Loch Lomond. All rooms are individually furnished and have all the amenities you require.
An early start is the order of the day as today is the longest stretch on the John Muir Way, but also one of the most rewarding. Begin with a stroll through Balloch Castle Country Park, admiring views over Loch Lomond, before you cross through forest plantation which opens up to fantastic views of the Lomond Hills.
Follow the path which skirts the edge of the Burncrooks Reservoir, through woodland to the Carbeth Inn and Huts. Originally formed when camping rights were given by the landowner to soldiers returning from WWI, the huts developed as Glasgow folk sought the fresh countryside air. During WWII the huts housed evacuees from bombed-out homes. Continue to Strathblane, where you can relax and perhaps reward yourself with a wee dram of local whisky.
Nestled in the peaceful parish of Strathblane, originally built in 1601 as a stables and tavern. The 15 bedroom house boasts a beautiful and contemporary decor with a unique dining experience – but still retaining the atmosphere and feel of five centuries of history. All rooms are individually furnished and have all the amenities you require. A restaurant, coffee shop and a resident’s lounge are available.
Milngavie Premier Inn has everything you'd expect, incredibly comfy beds in every room and an onsite Beefeater restaurant serving freshly cooked chargrilled food.
Stay at the Premier Inn Hotel Glasgow Bearsden and you'll be in pole position for the walkers' favourite, the West Highland Way. They have everything you'd expect, incredibly comfy beds in every room.
You’ll be walking in view of the dramatic and rugged Campsie Fells today, as you follow the trail ever-westward to Kilsyth. Today’s hike is just 13 miles, and with lovely open stretches on good tracks.
Kirkintilloch’s historic town centre is the ideal stop for elevenses, before joining the classic Forth and Clyde Canal for a lovely stroll along the flat canal path. Head up and over the 2,000 year-old Antonine Wall on a steeper path to find a Roman Fort at Bar Hill. Finally arrive at Auchinstarry Marina where you can enjoy great British pub grub and replenish your energy.
The Coachman Hotel that stands today is one for the savvy modern visitor. You will stay in one of the eleven modern rooms, which are spacious and have been treated to some inspired contemporary design. There is something trendy yet unfussy and elegant about the design at the hotel, and this carries into every part of the building. Head to the restaurant for some of the region’s best dining, in an ambiance which suggests style for a new generation of savvy foodies. There’s a great menu, and you’ll be able to pick just the wine from a list populated with good New World offerings.
The Boathouse is an elegant bar and restaurant, with boutique rooms where your comfort is paramount. The Boathouse rooms are comfortable designed with great beds, mood lighting, power showers and flat-screen Freeview televisions. The rooms are accessed from an external door which residents have 24-hour access to. Scotland is world famous for its warmth of welcome and hospitality and you’ll find it at the Boathouse Pub Restaurant. They aim to provide some of the very best of the country’s rich store of fresh foods. Their goal is to create a great atmosphere for perfect lunches, light bites and dinners.
Enjoy a lovely walk along the Forth and Clyde Canal, once a busy shipping link between the Firth of Forth in the west and the Firth of Clyde in the east, but now a haven for fishermen and canal boats. Walk by the incredible feat of engineering, the Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boat lift which joins two canals across Scotland - it has to be seen to be believed!
The Cladhan Hotel is a beautiful place where you can eat, drink and rest. All of the bedrooms are individually furnished and have a Smart TV and tea/coffee making facilities. The Priory Restaurant offers freshly prepared menus or alternatively the more informal Cladhan Bistro may be your taste. The bar and lounge are comfortable and are situated off the reception area.
Ideally located for exploring Falkirk and surrounding areas. With a fantastic restaurant onsite and super-comfy rooms, the Premier Inn makes the ideal stopover for your break. A continental breakfast is included.
The Grange Manor was built in the late 19th century for the Factor to the Earl of Zetland's local estates which to this day retains many of the original features. Their rooms are well equipped with all of the amenities you would expect - with complimentary wi-fi throughout. En-suite, good-sized double bedrooms - all with colour television and satellite connections, hairdryer and hospitality tray.
Meander along the canal on pleasant grassy tracks and join the River Avon Heritage Trail. Arrive at historic Linlithgow, birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots. This friendly and charming town offers a lovely high street with good facilities, where you’ll find a blend of old and new. Visit the preserved ruins of the Royal Palace next to Linlithgow Loch. At Annet House Museum & Garden you can see a permanent exhibition dedicated to Mary, Queen of Scots.
Arden County House is nestled deep in the heart of West Lothian, they have 3 individually decorated double en-suite bedrooms with pretty views over the gardens to farmland and the Ochil Hills beyond. King size and super king-sized Harrison handmade beds, topped with Egyptian cotton bed linen and goose down duvets and pillows, offer weary travellers a welcome nights rest.
Champany Inn “restaurant with rooms”. They have created sixteen bedroom suites which echo a French concept, but with all the warmth of typical Scottish hospitality. All rooms are decorated to a very high standard throughout. After a good night’s sleep nothing is more welcome than a good Scottish breakfast. Freshly squeezed orange juice, tea or coffee and proper porridge as well as an Anglo-Saxon breakfast grill of butchers bacon, fresh laid eggs, homemade Champany Sausage and black pudding, toast and preserves, is more than sufficient to set any one up for their next day of walking.
Located in Linlithgow, 450 yards from Linlithgow Palace, Star & Garter Hotel features a terrace and shared lounge. The hotel has a bar, as well as a restaurant serving local cuisine. All guest rooms in the inn are fitted with a TV. Every room has a private bathroom with a hairdryer.
Head towards the coast as you leave Linlithgow and stroll through rural countryside. Follow in the foosteps of fishermen’s wives who hauled their catches along the Fisherrow. Bo’ness is a lovely historic town where you’ll find 16th century architecture, a steam railway and Scotland’s largest railway museum. Continue along the coast to Blackness Castle, a 15th century icon now maintained by Historic Scotland. 17th Century Hopetoun House Estate is the ideal spot to take afternoon tea and rest your legs.
Reach the southern end of the Forth’s road and rail bridges at South Queensferry. Here you can relax with views over the harbour and pick a fine restaurant to sample the freshest fish from Scotland’s waters.
On the shore of the Firth of Forth, Queensferry is situated ten miles to the north of Edinburgh. In your room you will find a luxury king-sized bed, lightweight yet warm duvet, choice of firm or soft pillows, a powerful shower and a TV with freeview.
The Stag Head Hotel is a17th-century family owned hotel, nestled between the famous Forth Road and Rail bridges. Located in a central location in South Queensferry on the High Street, some rooms feature views of the river. All rooms have private bathrooms equipped with a bath, a shower and complimentary toiletries. Continental breakfast is served daily. The restaurant at The Stag Head Hotel serves meals of British cuisine. Live music and events can be experienced at the hotel. The nearest bus stop is Hill Court, only 200 meters away. Check in from 1400 and check out is by 1100. Free parking and wifi are available at the hotel.
Built in around 1720, Parkhead House was originally the Gamekeepers cottage for the Hopetoun Estate. Much of the original character is retained with open fireplaces and views of the adjacent deer park. Breakfast room overlooking the deer park and includes locally sourced ingredients, some of which is from the Hopetoun Estate itself.
From Queensferry, pass by the coastal Dalmeny estate (home to the largest Napoleonic collection outside of France) then you’ll soon encounter the outskirts of historic Edinburgh. Negotiate through Edinburgh’s streets and if you have time, visit the Castle as well as the capital’s museums and galleries.
If you would like more time in Edinburgh it is possible to add an extra day to explore all that this ancient Scottish capital city has to offer.
In the heart of Edinburgh's city centre, this Georgian town house hotel offers free Wi-Fi and free parking. Waverley Rail Station, the tram stop to the airport and the shops of Princes Street are only 0.5 miles’ walk away. Modern rooms at the Broughton Hotel - B&B each have a satellite LCD TV and a sleek private shower room with a power shower. Free tea and coffee and unlimited shortbread biscuits are also provided.
The Broughton is 150 metres from famous Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre, the Joint Visa Application Center and the Prometric Services: Testing and Assessment Centre. Guests have convenient 24-hour access to the hotel, and are just over a mile from the historic Castle. A tram service to the airport operates from a stop just 350 metres from the hotel.
A stylish boutique hotel on the most iconic street of Scotland's cosmopolitian capital - The Royal Mile. With just 9 rooms this small city centre hotel is the perfect modern haven from where to explore this historic city. Breakfast in their beautiful high-ceilinged bar is included. By night you can sample their tempting drinks list alongside locally-sourced Scottish cuisine.
The Lairg provides charming Georgian townhouse accommodation and friendly service. The Guest House is surrounded by Haymarket’s welcoming bars and restaurant as well as Haymarket Rail Station. The spacious bedrooms each have private bathroom facilities.
As today’s walk is only 10 miles, you might like to spend more time this morning discovering Edinburgh before setting off towards Prestonpans. Head towards Musselburgh where you’ll reach the coast once more. The Musselburgh Ash Lagoons and sandy beaches provide the ideal feeding ground for visiting birds, including Redshanks, Dunlin and Eider Ducks.
There is a limited number of accommodations in Prestonpans and if we are unable to secure our preferred choices due to availability issues, we may need to locate you in Aberlady which is 7 miles further along the trail. This would make the total distance on this day 17 miles (27 kilometers) and it would shorten your next walking day to North Berwick by 7 miles making it a 10-mile day (16.50 kilometers). Rest assured that you are still walking the full length of the trail and staying in comfortable overnight locations.
The Dean B&B sets in two acres of beautiful grounds. Two of three guest bedrooms look over the 6th green and have views across the Firth of Forth to the Kingdom of Fife. The other has views over the garden. There’s a tennis court (on which you are welcome to play), woodland walks, and because the house is on the edge of Longniddry village it’s only a five minute walk to the local pubs and restaurants. Caroline has lived in East Lothian all her life and she loves this part of Scotland and its local history. She is always happy give advice.
A small yet charming bed and breakfast accommodation. Situated on the sea front overlooking the harbour and the Firth of Forth, local fishing amenities available there is a slip way available, enjoy the beautiful coastal walks and the lush green country side that east lothian offers. The two guest rooms are comfortably furnished with en-suite facilities and have all the amenities you require for a lovely overnight stay.
A warm welcome awaits you at the Old Aberlady Inn. All rooms are simply furnished, en-suite and have all the amenities you require. If you require an evening meal they provide simple homemade classics in a relaxed pub atmosphere using local freshly sourced ingredients.
Follow the coastal route (pass Cockenzie Power Station, which is a literal fishing hot spot!) and you’ll soon come to Seton Sands with stunning long beach views. From here, you may wish to stop at 400-year old Dirleton Castle; note that its towers date from 1240 and are amongst the oldest castle ruins in the country. Turn back to the coast at Yellowcraig, before reaching the seaside town of North Berwick. A must-see is the award-winning Scottish Seabird Centre here, and find out more about the folk that would have lived alongside John Muir at the Coastal Communities Museum.
A warm welcome awaits you at Glengair, an Edwardian family house set in a lovely garden; just two minutes walk from North Berwick’s High street with its shops and restaurants. Guest rooms are individually furnished and have all the amenities you need. They believe that a comfortable bed is very important. All their beds have pocket sprung mattresses on sprung bases and are of excellent quality.
The Marine Hotel in North Berwick is renowned for its beautiful coastal setting and glorious 19th century Victorian architecture. An award-winning restaurant where you can enjoy the finest Scottish cuisine in a very Scottish setting, with views of the Firth of Forth. All of the rooms are classically furnished, each one boasting original Victorian features such as high ceilings and large windows, which create a very much airy and calm environment, each room is bursting with traditional comforts including large, comfortable beds and luxurious en-suite bathrooms.
Netherlaw is a family run B&B offering a homely, personalised experience, in a quiet, leafy detached residential setting a short walk downhill from the stunning beaches and golf courses of North Berwick. The accommodation offers a large, comfortable double / twin room with en-suite, it is has tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryer, TV with Freeview and Wi Fi.
Heading south again, perhaps take the (optional) climb up to Berwick Law for stunning 360 degree views over Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat to Tantallon Castle, with its seaside position. On your final day’s walk you’ll be on country tracks and quiet inland roads which lead first to East Linton then on to the John Muir Country Park. Walking through landscapes close to where John Muir spent his early years, enjoy the wild beaches and crashing waves as you trace the path high along the cliff-tops then descend to Dunbar and John Muir’s Birthplace Museum, marking the finish of The John Muir Way.
The Royal Mackintosh Hotel is an independently family run hotel situated in the seaside town of Dunbar, it has 16 bedrooms all of which are en-suite. Each room contains a tv and dvd player, tea and coffee making facilities and a hairdryer. Free wifi is available in the public areas. The Mauretania Restaurant is open to both hotel guests and visitors. It is named after the RMS Mauretania and the restaurant itself is decorated with wood panelling taken from the ship's boardroom.
The Rocks at Dunbar has 11 rooms, which all enjoy superb views across to Victoria Harbour and the ruins of Dunbar Castle, or over to Winterfield Golf Course and Belhaven Bay. Enjoy a delicious meal in the Inn’s restaurant and revel in the views across to Victoria Harbour and the ruins of Dunbar Castle.
You will be guaranteed a warm welcome when you check into this B&B. This guest house has modern facilities in a traditional period house in its own grounds. All rooms are comfortably furnished and have all the amenities you require for a lovely overnight stay including free WIFI, relaxing rooms overlooking surrounding gardens and breakfast prepared to Healthy Living Award standards.
Your tour ends after breakfast today and you can make your journey home or continue your travels in Scotland.
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