- Follow in the footsteps of John Muir on his homecoming trip to the Scottish Highlands
- Discover the beautiful environment of the Scottish Highlands that so inspired one of the greatest conservationists in history
- Enjoy easy hikes as you reconnect with nature and the power of wild places
At Your Own Pace – Self Guided Holidays
Our ‘At Your Own Pace’ trips are all suitable for anyone to enjoy, regardless of fitness level. Journey at your own pace, stopping as often as you like to soak up the magnificent scenery of the Scottish Highlands.
You have the flexibility to choose how you spend each day and can choose from the many walking routes described in the information pack. There are also many non-walking activities featured in the pack that are suitable for all fitness levels.
Further information for specific trips can be found in the relevant Trip Dossier. If you are in any doubt at all regarding your suitability for a trip, please contact us and we will be glad to talk about the trip in detail and provide you with a recommendation.
During your specially themed hiking tour of the Scottish Highlands, you will enjoy accommodation at some of the best small hotels and guest houses in the Highlands.
Accommodation will be in a choice of double or twin rooms, with breakfast included each day.
This itinerary visits several regions of Scotland that are linked to John Muir, such as Edinburgh, Lochaber (around Ben Nevis) and the Isle of Skye.
For clients enjoying the 4 day extension, you will also visit the North West Highlands of Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park.
John Muir, the inspiration behind the USA’s National Parks system and one of the world’s great pioneering conservationists is a household name throughout North America, but he is surprisingly little known in his home country of Scotland.
Intrigued by his writings of his boyhood days in East Lothian and his subsequent wanderings in the Highlands many years later as an adult, Wilderness Scotland has created an exciting hiking tour of the Scottish Highlands, following in the footsteps of John Muir through the most wild and beautiful regions of Scotland.
Inspired by his vision that humans should be encouraged to experience, celebrate and ultimately preserve our precious wild places, this John Muir themed journey explores some wonderful and hidden corners of Scotland, revealing the beauty of Muir’s homeland.
Our itinerary is available on a private basis for 2 or more people. We have placed an emphasis on gentle hiking and exploration of some of Scotland’s natural treasures, however there are also options for high summits and mountain hikes for keen hikers. Our route has been carefully designed to incorporate some of the regions which Muir visited in his only visit to Scotland as an adult in 1893, during which time he explored much of his homeland and wrote “…now I am a Scotchman and at home again.”
During his homecoming in 1893, Muir spent several weeks exploring the Highlands and he travelled far and wide, exploring the Trossachs and Loch Lomond before continuing west to Oban where he enjoyed views of the Hebridean islands to the west. He then ventured to the very far north of Scotland, visiting the Cairngorms and the northern coast before returning south and finishing his homecoming journey in his hometown of Dunbar in East Lothian.
Our journey in the footsteps of John Muir incorporates many of the regions he visited during this homecoming and also features a selection of what we consider to be Scotland’s most spectacular wilderness regions, which Muir may not have visited on his journey, but which would certainly have served to inspire him had he done so. You will explore some of the magnificent wild regions now managed by leading UK wilderness conservation organisation the John Muir Trust (www.jmt.org), which today carries on the vision and inspiration of Muir in his homeland.
Our adventure begins with an exploration of the beautiful coastline and traditional fishing villages of East Lothian and John Muir’s birthplace in the small town of Dunbar, where his life and work are featured in an excellent museum (www.jmbt.org.uk).
This itinerary is designed as a self-guided (unescorted) tour, supported by detailed hiking route notes written by Wilderness Scotland’s head guide, Gordon Birnie. However, for groups of 4 or more people, a guided tour is possible.
Wilderness Scotland will make a financial contribution to support the work of the John Muir Trust and the John Muir Birthplace Museum for every traveller on our John Muir themed journeys. This means that as well as being inspired by John Muir and the places he visited, your holiday in Scotland will also help to continue to preserve these wild and beautiful landscapes for future generations to enjoy, carrying on the vision started by John Muir himself.
We offer an 8-day self-guided (unescorted) itinerary, as well as an optional 5-day extension.
Day 1 – Edinburgh and East Lothian
Travel to Edinburgh and explore Scotland’s capital city, which John Muir described as ‘the most beautiful town I ever saw’.
Day 2 – John Muir’s Birthplace, Dunbar
Today you will travel along to the coast to Dunbar in East Lothian, where you can visit John Muir Birthplace Museum and explore the town where he grew up.
Day 3 – Travel to the Highlands
You will travel north into the beautiful Scottish Highlands. There are some interesting places to stop along the way, including Scotland’s highest distillery, at 358m above sea level! Passing below the northern flanks of Ben Nevis, you reach your accommodation which lies on the banks of Loch Ness.
Day 4 – Hiking on Ben Nevis or in Glen Nevis
Ben Nevis is one of the key properties now managed by the John Muir Trust. You can choose to hike to the top of ‘The Ben’, which is Scotland’s highest mountain (an 8 hour hike) or enjoy a more leisurely day hiking in beautiful Glen Nevis and spending some time at the visitor centre.
Day 5 – Travel to the Isle of Skye
We move west to the famous Isle of Skye, where the John Muir Trust now manage three estates on the south of the island. A short hike in Glen Sligachan offers wonderful views of the Red and Black Cuillin mountains.
Day 6 – Boat trip on the Isle of Skye
A boat trip into the heart of the Cuillin mountains offers a genuine wilderness experience with little effort, as well as the possibility of spotting wildllife such as minke whales, basking sharks and seals. A memorable day.
Day 7 – Hiking to abandoned villages on Skye
This scenic coastal hike takes you to some villages which were abandoned as a result of the Highland Clearances. The route also offers wonderful vistas across land now managed by the John Muir Trust.
Day 8 – Depart (or continue with the extension)
If this is your final day, you will make your way back south through the Highlands to Edinburgh. If you choose to take the 4-night extension, read on for details!
Optional 5-Day Extension (£425 per person)
Day 8 – North to Assynt and Sutherland
Continuing north from Skye, you visit Assynt where the John Muir Trust now manage a beautiful mountain called Quinaig. There is good hiking on and around Quinaig with dazzling views across this wild and loch-strewn landscape.
Day 9 – Hike to Sandwood Bay
This hike takes you to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The beach is at the end of a 7km trail, so exists in a pristine wilderness, which the John Muir Trust now manage.
Day 10 – South to Cairngorms National Park
One of Muir’s ambitions was ‘to see the heather in bloom’ and there is no place better for this than the Cairngorms National Park. Late August and September are the best time to see the heather but a spending time exploring the Park’s ancient forests and haunting glens is memorable at any time of year.
Day 11 – Hiking in Cairngorms National Park
John Muir is probably best known for establishing the system of National Parks which now exists across the world. It seems fitting for a tour to end by exploring what is the largest national park in Scotland. There are many hikes to choose from, as well as options to try activities such as canoeing or mountain biking.
Day 12 – Final Journey Through the Highlands
On your final day, travel south back to Edinburgh, enjoying the journey, soaking in the Highland scenery and reflecting on the landscapes which inspired John Muir to dedicate his life to the conservation of wild places.
For a detailed itinerary and trips information please see our PDF Trip Dossier