Book data

John Muir Way
Sandra Bardwell   Jacquetta Megarry  
14 June 2023
UK price £16.99
88pp, 130 x 220mm, 210g

John Muir Way

Walk or cycle across Scotland (3rd ed)


Sandra Bardwell Jacquetta Megarry

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“This book is a delight ...” - Scotland Outdoors

The John Muir Way is one of Scotland’s Great Trails. It runs for 134 miles (216 km) coast-to-coast across central Scotland, from Helensburgh on the Clyde to Dunbar on the North Sea. The route is as suitable for cyclists as for walkers, and it can be tackled as a coast-to-coast expedition or in sections – typically ten days for walkers and up to five for cyclists.

The John Muir Way’s appeal ranges from the Charles Rennie Mackintosh architecture of Helensburgh through the scenic grandeur of Loch Lomond, along two famous canals and past the amazing Falkirk Wheel, beside the Roman Antonine Wall, passing Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle and the Forth Bridges to the capital glories of Edinburgh. It goes beside the Firth of Forth to reach North Berwick, then heads inland to finish at Dunbar with its ruined castle and the John Muir birthplace. The book devotes 3 pages to Muir’s life and pioneering work; if you are interested in the issue of his alleged racism, please read our blog post.

Our third edition includes 4 more pages (mainly Reference material with checklists, passport scheme and bikepacking advice) and also many fresh photos and a couple of route updates. The mapping has been improved with mileage markers and a km grid to help with distance awareness. Despite more pages, it weighs over 50 grams less than its predecessor, and is more easily pocketable, thanks to perfect binding and a narrower page.


This guidebook contains all you need to plan and enjoy the John Muir Way on a bike or on foot:

  • background on John Muir’s life, the canal heritage and wildlife
  • detailed description of the route from west to east, with 2023 updates
  • summary of each section showing distance, terrain and food/drink stops
  • details of visitor attractions and side-trips
  • planning information for travel by car, train, bus or plane
  • detailed mapping of the John Muir Way on 22 pages at 1:75,000
  • lavishly illustrated, with 105 colour photos
  • further route options, diversions and an unofficial shortcut
  • rainproof paper throughout.
Look inside

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Pages 5-8 from Planning
2.1 John Muir
3.7 South Queensferry to Edinburgh

Email from John Muir Live (Lee Stetson)

[Your guidebook] has been in fact the primary inspiration that has set us off on our quest to walk the Way. It is truly one of the best of its kind I’ve ever seen, handy, beautifully written and illustrated, and very informative. After looking it over, I ordered another copy for a couple who will likely join us for at least part of the journey …

Lee Stetson (September 2015), who presents John Muir "live", see

Reviewed by CompassSport magazine

As a fan of long-distance footpath relays, I jumped at the chance to review a guidebook to the newly opened John Muir Way. What better way to test a guidebook than with armchair planning of leg distances and changeovers, followed by a whole group of people following the route?

It is attractively set out, with a strip map that folds out giving a good overview of the route … There was sufficient information to select some good changeovers with some key pubs, tea shops and points of interest mentioned.

The route descriptions are in bullet point form, with boxes for points of interest and plenty of illustrations. …

So what happened when the intrepid members of JOK took up the baton? … Nobody got seriously lost on the route or failed to find the changeovers. We started from either end and met up in the middle at the end of the day.

See page 43 of CompassSport August 2014

Five-star review on

Bought this package last year to do the walk. You don’t really need the map as a map is included at the end of the book and although it is small you only need it as a guide anyway as the walk is well waymarked. The book itself is packed with useful information on the places you pass through as well as very handy distance guides, and step-by-step info to keep you on the right track. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone thinking of undertaking what turned out to be an excellent experience.

Reviewed by J Anderson (verified purchaser)

Excerpt from review in Outdoor Focus, summer 2014

Like all Rucksack guides, it is packed with practical tips and useful historical information about the route, backed by excellent 1:115,000-scale maps and over 90 colour photographs. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Roly Smith (p12)

Excerpt from five-star review on

I really love the way it is put together and describes every turn you need to take. Fi

Reviewed by Emily Vasquez

From Irish Mountain Log, Summer 2014, page 51

This colourful and attractive guide provides a detailed route description with distances, food/drink stops, information on public transport and visitor attractions, and maps of the entire routes in six drop-down panels (1:115 000). Also included is an outline of John Muir’s life and work, and there is much illustrated background material on wildlife and canal heritage. As is usual with Rucksack Reader guides, it is printed on rainproof paper and is spiral bound, enabling it to be opened flat.

Rucksack Readers is a specialist guidebook publisher with a very creditable range of products.

Reviewed by Margaret Tees, inveterate long-distance walker with North West Mountaineering Club

From a review in Scottish Mountaineer (Mountaineering Council of Scotland)

The notebook ‘flip over’ style is neat, rainproof and has an easily accessible map on the rear. This was an immediate winner for me, having followed other, unwieldy, rain-soaked guides in the past. The map, though of small scale, is perfectly adequate for the purpose. …

The route cards are clear, well represented and filled with nice crisp photos. Options for varying the route are included. I like this, as it shows a non-linear thinking that many long distance footpaths appear not to allow. …

In summary, a nice, well presented, informative and handy guide to the John Muir Way. I learned a lot on my journey through this book and will certainly be trying out sections of the Way in the near future. Well recommended.

Reviewed by David Johnstone, Scottish Mountaineer, May 2014 p81

Excerpt from online review on

Like all other Rucksack Readers’ guides, this one is full of practical tips and interesting asides.

From a 5-star review by Portonian

Chosen as "Our favourite" by Scotland Outdoors

This book is a delight. Pocket-sized and ring-bound, it has a back cover that unfolds into a map of the whole route, which you could easily follow armed with this guide alone. It’s been prepared as much for cyclists as for walkers, and at times unofficial options are suggested …

The route seems destined to become one of Scotland’s most popular, blessed as it is with plentiful transport links, places to eat and stay, and generally easy terrain. Acquiring a copy of this guide would be a sensible first step.

Scotland Outdoors May/June 2014 page 26

From a review by Undiscovered Scotland

The book shares all the features we have come to know and appreciate from other Rucksack Readers: including waterproof paper, a robust spiral binding, and a fold out route map. Add in an introduction which covers planning issues such as public transport, accommodation, refreshments, timings and terrain and you really do end up with everything you need in order to dig out the hiking boots or cycle clips …

The heart of the book divides the route into 10 geographical sections, giving detailed route instructions and background information for each. In places the walking and cycling routes diverge, and there are also “unofficial” excursions and alternatives given where the “official” way omits particularly important attractions (such as Linlithgow).

Read Ken Lussey's review in full here.

Excerpt from an online review by Grough

The John Muir Way is a nicely produced guidebook in a format that makes it easy to slip into your rucksack and can easily be consulted while on foot or on wheels.

Its information on planning the route, accommodation on the way and public transport links is comprehensive and there is plenty of extra background information both on Muir himself and on the places the trail passes through to enhance the journey.

There’s little to find fault with in this little guide, apart perhaps from the small scale of the maps, something that can be solved by forking out either for the Rucksack Readers map or perhaps OS mapping.

Anyone wanting to take the first steps on a multi-day long-distance trail will be well served by this guide.

Find Bob Smith's full review (with images) here.

Bonus content

Please download our unofficial city centre shortcut through Edinburgh. Even if you decide not to follow it, you may want the detailed directions for climbing Arthur’s Seat given on page 3. (Ignore the padlock icon: this PDF is not password-protected.)

Unofficial city centre shortcut

GPX route file

All the following updates have been included in the third edition but remain in place below in case you have the 2nd edition.

Edenmill Farm Shop has opened The Attic as a bunkhouse with B&B: staying there would allow walkers to make a more equal split of the 31 miles between Balloch and Kilsyth area.

For details of the John Muir Way Passport scheme: visit this page.

For baggage transfers on this route, contact Highland Transfers.

Although the Three Lochs Way option is still available between Helensburgh and Gouk Hill whenever felling closes Bannachra Muir, it is now signed as a JMW alternative only when needed.

More info to help with your planning

Support services

Service providers that support this route

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Recommended maps

For those who want a larger scale map

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Route links

Links relevant to this route

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