Work on the John Muir Way has taken an important step forward with the completion of a £15,000 project to upgrade two key sections of the route in East Lothian.

The initiative has seen significant improvements to two footbridges at Longniddry and the John Muir Country Park in East Lothian. The work has been completed to prepare for the official opening of Scotland’s newest long distance route on John Muir’s birthday on 21st April 2014.

The John Muir Way will link Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar to Helensburgh via Scotland’s first National Park – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. The stretch through East Lothian is an important section of the route.

The bridge within John Muir Country Park became rundown after years of use. The new structure is designed to be more robust and sustainable, to meet the needs of future trail users, and to be stronger in any floods. A makeshift bridge at Longniddry, which was in need of considerable upgrading, has also been replaced.

The work was funded by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) with East Lothian Council carrying out the improvements.

Rob Garner, SNH Recreation & Access Officer, explained: “The creation of the John Muir Way has allowed us to invest in these much-needed improvements to two bridges within East Lothian. The Longniddry bridge will help walkers take an easier route through the dunes , while the John Muir Country Park bridge over the Hedderwick Burn provides a safe and attractive viewpoint, so both bridges help people to enjoy improved access in these scenic locations.”

Cllr Norman Hampshire, East Lothian Council’s spokesperson for Environment said: “East Lothian is a popular destination for visitors with a keen interest in the environment – whether to enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife or to discover what inspired John Muir as a boy. The John Muir Way combines both by providing opportunities for people to connect with the local environment using a dedicated, well maintained route.”

The John Muir Way has been designed to celebrate John Muir’s life. The 134 mile (215km) trail will allow walkers, cyclists (and horse riders on many sections) to enjoy some of the most beautiful coastal scenery, sweeping landscapes, wildlife sites and historic visitor attractions across Scotland’s heartland.

The concept of the John Muir Way was developed by the Central Scotland Green Network and Keith Geddes, Chair of the CSGN Partnership Board, welcomed the progress on the route.

He said: “It is great to see our vision for the John Muir Way becoming a reality and hopefully this will give a taste of what people can enjoy when the full route opens in April 2014.”

For further information about the John Muir Way please contact johnmuirway@snh.gov.uk

Submitted by Central Scotland Green Network