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Written by
FionaOutdoors
FionaOutdoors

Homecoming Scotland 2014: Where to walk

Did you know that 2014 is the year of Homecoming Scotland? For 12 months, Scotland will be celebrating a host of events and welcoming visitors from overseas who have connections with the friendly, traditional and wonderfully scenic country. Two new walking projects have come to our attention that will tie in with Homecoming Scotland 2014.

John Muir Trail

In East Lothian, in the coastal town of Dunbar, a conservation hero John Muir will be remembered on the 100th anniversary of his death. Born in Dunbar, Muir wen ton to become a world leader in land and wildlife conservation and is also know as the father of National Parks. Although Muir, spent most of his life in America after moving there as a child, his name is deeply connected with Scotland. In April 2014, a new John Muir Trail will be launched, extending the existing John Muir Way from Dunbar on the east coast to the Clyde coast in Helensburgh in the west. The route will stretch some 100 miles and travel a diverse countryside as it journeys across the centre of Scotland. You can keep track of the developments at SNH.

Helmsdale Heritage Trails

And in Sutherland, in the stunning northern area of the Scottish Highlands, history and heritage are the focus of another initiative that will tie in nicely with Homecoming Scotland 2014. Already underway, Timespan Heritage and Arts Centre initiative offers a new and greater insight into the Kildonan Clearances that took place in the 19th century in the area close to Helmsdale. A downloadable Kildonan Trail app has been created by heritage project Timespan and is soon to be available. It offers information about driving and walking routes in the area of the Strath valley where 1813 some 100 people left their homes in Kildonan and emigrated en masse to Red River Settlement, in Canada. The area developed into the city of Winnipeg.

Two historic Kildonan walks

Bunillidh Loop Start/finish: Timespan Heritage and Arts Centre Distance walked: 3.5 km Terrain: Uneven path and steep hill path, good footwear recommended Height gain: Start sea level to 100m Map: OS Explorer 444 Walk to public car park opposite the bridge hotel. Take steps down to the picnic area. Follow riverside path to St John’s Well (1887) and few steps up hill to the main road (A 897, Golf Road). Follow Golf Road towards the Strath. Turn right at the Golf club, and where the road curves right, follow track straight on to foot of the hill. Follow the path upwards, it climbs to the right. The highest point is marked with a bench and a flagpole. Enjoy the views across Helmsdale and its shoreline. On a clear day you can see the coast of Moray and Aberdeenshire in the distance. Continue along the track until you reach a few steps. Turn left and then right onto the A9. Cross with care and follow A9 back to Helmsdale. Learn more about the local history at Timespan’s museum or stop in for a coffee in our Riverside Garden and Café. Helmsdale to Caen Start/finish: Timespan Heritage and Arts Centre Distance walked: 5.5km Terrain: Small riverside path that can be uneven and slippery in wet conditions and easy to walk single-track road Map: OS Explorer 444 Walk to public car park opposite the bridge hotel. Take steps down to the picnic area. Follow riverside path to St John’s Well (1887) and take left hand rough trail along the riverbank. Stay close to the riverbank where trail rises to top. Keep a look out for salmon in the river. Opposite Marrel climb steps that lead you onto the A897. Turn left and follow the single-track road for 1km. 50 yards after you’ve crossed a small stony bridge Caen township lies to your right. A short steep climb up the riverbank to your right brings you to a plateau from where you can access the footings of a Clearance settlement. Here you also find post-Clearance Sheep enclosures, Neolithic cairns and hut circles. Return the same way you came, and visit Timespan to see the finds of a recent longhouse excavation at Caen and explore a virtual reconstruction of the township. Tell us about other ideas for walking and cycling in the year of Homecoming Scotland 2014.
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