Thousands visit John Muir Way path

Dunbar Image copyright SNH
Image caption The route runs between Dunbar (pictured) on the east coast and Helensburgh in the west

More than 60,000 people visited Scotland's newest long distance footpath in 2015, according to a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) report.

The 134-mile John Muir Way, which goes from Helensburgh in Argyll to Dunbar in East Lothian, was opened in April 2014.

Its launch marked the centenary of the death of conservationist John Muir, who was born in Dunbar in 1838.

The way was designed to be used for day trips as well as an end-to-end trail.

SNH said there were more than 60,000 visits specifically to walk or cycle a stretch of the way, with 6,000 people reported to have completed the whole route over consecutive days.

A further 200,000 also made use of a section for routine dog walking, commuting or other purposes, the report found.

A third of those interviewed for the survey were people who "seldom" visited the outdoors.

Image copyright SNH
Image caption The John Muir Way passes by Loch Lomond

Ron McCraw, route developer for SNH, said: "We're really thrilled to discover how many people are using the John Muir Way.

"In particular, it's great that so many people who may not have considered going out for a walk or cycle very often before are enjoying the way.

"We're now working with Central Scotland Green Network Trust and other partners to encourage even more people to journey on the route, which will benefit communities and businesses throughout the central belt."

The route takes in Roman hill forts on the Antonine Wall, the 14th Century Callendar House and Park and the Falkirk Wheel - the world's only rotating boat lift.

Councillor Adrian Mahoney, Falkirk Council's spokesman for culture, leisure and tourism, said: "The creation of the John Muir Way has been a very positive experience for areas along the route.

"It has led to path and access improvements and brought lots of new visitors to the Falkirk area - and other stretches of the way."

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