The John Muir Way

Tuesday, August 25, 2020 at 21:03 (UTC+0100)

The John Muir Way crosses Scotland from John Muir's birthplace in Dunbar, on the North Sea,  going west through Edinburgh, all the way to the Atlantic side of the country.  Since Muir is one of my heroes, I had long wanted to trek this route.  And now that my dear friend Kyle, also a big Muir fan, has suffered some tragedy, it was time to get on the trail in honor of both men.

Besides, it was Saturday and the weather was looking good.

Karen and I have bicycles at our disposal here, so we decided to attempt the four hour ride between Edinburgh and Dunbar.  Karen packed us a lunch and I checked the wind direction: best to start from here and ride eastward.  We donned helmets and set off just after noon.

It was glorious to be off on an adventure.  Soon we reached the sea at Musselburgh, where sailboats sat on the muck in the harbor at low tide.  We could see back across mud flats covered with birds to Arthur's Seat rising above Edinburgh.  A bit further along at Prestonpans we discovered a totem pole!  It was donated by First Nations tribes in Chemainus, British Columbia.  A mural depicting John Muir was painted on a wall next door.

The John Muir Way went off road and we passed stony remains of once-splendid mansions.  We crossed fields of various crops: wheat and oats (for bread), barley (for whisky).  There were manses and golf courses, sea coast towns, and Bass Rock, an enormous rock off the coast, a bird sanctuary covered in guano, surrounded by hundreds of flying gulls.

At one point I wasn't paying attention and rode straight into an unyielding hedge and fell off the bike.  No real damage to me, or the bike, but I landed on my camera and dented it so badly that it would not open.  I could fix it later: I switched to using my mobile phone camera.

This was not a trail for street bikes.  We were glad our rides had fat tires when we reached some single track that led to a place where signs warned us that toads might cross the road.  And, when the trail crossed a river, even fat tires could not help.  We were happy to discover a nearby foot bridge we could use.

Four hours was a very optimistic schedule for this trip: it took us six and a half.  Saddle sore, thirsty, and rubber legged, we reached Dunbar as the sun glided low in the west.  And there it was, the house where John Muir was born!  But of course, we had missed the opening hours.  No matter: we found fish and chips on the short main street, and took them to an old fortress, next to the salt splashed shore rocks.  We gobbled down our supper before the gulls got onto us.  A fantastic sunset shot orange rays up from behind The Law, another far away rock.

Completely knackered, we caught the train back to Edinburgh, and slept the deep sleep of the sore and satisfied.  Here's to you, Brother Kyle.