THE John Muir Way has celebrated the third anniversary of the official opening of the 134 mile coast to coast route.
The route - which commemorates the world-renowned conservationist - was launched on Muir’s birthday on April 21, 2014 and has welcomed visitors from across the globe.
Around 300,000 visits are made annually to the route with 75 per cent of those walking, while 24 per cent cycle.
Around 6,000 visits are undertaken by end-to-end users who complete all 134 miles of the route over consecutive days while 19 per cent (57,000) visits are by those looking to complete the route in sections.
The John Muir Birthplace in Dunbar has also seen a steady increase in the number of people visiting who have completed the whole route. Of those who left details, 46 per cent were from the USA, 25 per cent were Scottish, 10 per cent were from the rest of the UK, eight per cent were from Europe and five per cent% were from the rest of the world.
Environment secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “The John Muir Way has been a great success with people from across Scotland and around the world being inspired to explore Central Scotland.
"People of all ages are being encouraged to reconnect with nature and this helps to improve the environment for local communities and also has a positive impact for businesses in the area.
“I am sure the John Muir Way will continue to go from strength to strength and many more people will walk all or part of the 134 mile route and learn about the legacy of John Muir.”
The route stretches across Scotland’s heartland running between Helensburgh in the west through to Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar in the east. In the Stirling area, the trail crosses the West Highland Way at Carbeth and passes close to Mugdock Country Park.
Stacey Burlet, director of children, communities and enterprise for Stirling Council, said: “The John Muir Way passes through our wonderful villages of Carbeth and Crofamie and is already leading to an increase in visitor numbers to the local area – it’s estimated that 23,000 visitors are using the 19 mile section of the route which passes through Stirling.
"The route benefits a number of local businesses as outdoor and activity tourism is central to Stirling’s offer. The increase in people using the route has resulted in an overall spend of around £300k in our local areas.
"Along the route walkers can enjoy some of Stirling’s magnificent natural landscapes, food and drink products, and events and festivals. It’s a great asset and one we’re proud to have in our area.”
Keith Geddes, chair of the Central Scotland Green Network, was the inspiration behind the trail.
He said: “Three years on from the launch of the John Muir Way and the route’s popularity is still growing throughout the world. SNH’s recent decision to award the route Scotland’s Great Trail status will further enhance its standing. Interest from John Muir’s adopted home, the USA, continues and over the summer the CBS Sunday Morning programme will be filming parts of the route.
“We hope that the route will interest more and more people in the life and legacy of John Muir, encouraging them to think about conservation and how they can make their own individual or collective contribution to combating climate change. Muir’s influence over a succession of American presidents just shows how some of today’s young Scots could make their mark on the world.”
For further information about the John Muir Way, please visit johnmuirway.org