Rowers follow the John Muir Way by water

The intrepid members of Dunbar Coastal Rowing Club outside  John Muir House, Dunbar, after completing the 134 mile route of the John Muir Way on water.
The intrepid members of Dunbar Coastal Rowing Club outside John Muir House, Dunbar, after completing the 134 mile route of the John Muir Way on water.

Dunbar Coastal Rowing Club has become the first to complete the 134-mile John Muir Way by boat, from Helensburgh on the west coast to its home town on the east.

More than 20 local rowers took part in the challenge, setting off from Helensburgh on July 17, rowing up the Clyde shipping lane into the Forth and Clyde Canal, past Kirkintilloch, Auchinstarry, Bonnybridge, the Falkirk Wheel, the Kelpies, into the Forth near Bo’ness, then down the coast past South Queensferry, Port Seton, Aberlady, North Berwick to Dunbar.

Club secretary Kenny Maule, 66, took part in the event as well as co-ordinating the challenge with his wife Pamela, 60.

Explaining the thinking behind the journey, Kenny said: “This summer, the team were looking for a row that would offer interesting challenges combined with taking in some of Scotland’s beautiful scenery along the way.

“Someone suggested that we row around the whole of Scotland, and while this sounded like a wonderful idea, logistically it would have caused a few hiccups.

“We soon realised that we already have an abundance of beautiful coastal scenery on our doorstep, so the John Muir Way became the obvious choice.

“As Dunbar locals, we pass John Muir’s birthplace every day. His legacy is an integral part of our community’s history, so it was particularly special for us to select this route.”

The way, named after the Dunbar-born naturalist, is a flagship project of the Central Scotland Green Network and takes in castles, historic towns and villages and coastal scenery, as well as Scotland’s first national park, the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

It has already attracted walkers, cyclists and now rowers from across the globe.

Keith Geddes, chairman of the trust that runs the network, added: “Three years on from the launch of the John Muir Way, I’m proud to see Dunbar Coastal Rowing Club challenging the norm and echoing the adventurous nature of John Muir himself.

“This also highlights the growing understanding in Scotland of Muir’s significance throughout the world, and we look forward to many more people completing the 134-mile route, whether by foot, bike or any other creative way they can think of.”

It was in 2014 that the network created the long-distance route commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Muir, a conservationist best known as the father of America’s national parks.

The way links Dunbar, his birthplace in 1838, with Scotland’s first national park and with Helensburgh in the west, forming a coast-to-coast route.

The route links together core paths, other promoted routes, trails and cycleways, including the original John Muir Way in East Lothian, for cyclists, walkers and horse-riders.

However, completing the route entirely by water, as the rowing club has just done, is a first.