Walking the John Muir Way from west to east leaves one of the best sections until the last day. The 15-mile route from North Berwick to Dunbar, where Muir was born offers plentiful views of rolling East Lothian countryside, the coast and some fascinating historical attractions. Fiona Russell has walked and run this section several times.
Climb Berwick Law. Credit: Fiona Outdoors
The John Muir Way is signposted. Credit: Fiona Outdoors
John Muir Way: Final stage
If you choose to follow the 134-mile John Muir Way from Helensburgh on the west coast to Dunbar on the east coast, the route from North Berwick to Dunbar will be your final stage.
It's a lovely stage, with beautiful views of countryside and coast.
North Berwick is also a great place to wander the streets and public gardens. It’s a popular tourist town on the East Lothian coast and well worth taking your time to look around.
You could also walk to the top of Berwick Law, a volcanic plug that was formed 350 million years ago, and just off the John Muir Way near North Berwick.
This is not a big hill and it rewards with superb views over the town below, out to sea, across to Edinburgh’s famous Arthur’s Seat (another hill), and also takes in Tantallon Castle and the Bass Rock.
The summit has whale jawbones, updated as fibre-glass replicas in more recent times.
An older sign on the John Muir Way. Credit: Fiona Outdoors
Walkers will relish the lovely scenery. Credit: Fiona Outdoors
From North Berwick the John Muir Way heads towards the village of East Linton, following country tracks and quiet roads and going over Drylaw Hill. You’ll enjoy more wonderful expansive views of the undulating countryside and also see the Lammermuir Hills to the south.
East Lothian is delightfully scenic and often has sunny weather thanks to its location on the east side of Scotland.
East Linton has several attractions, including Prestonkirk Parish Church, which still boasts evidence of the original 13th Century St Baldred's Kirk.
The John Muir Way also passes the unusual looking Phantassie Doocot and Preston Mill, looked after by the National Trust for Scotland.
You'll pass Phantassie Doocot and Preston Mill. Credit: Fiona Outdoors
Hedderwick sands. Credit: Richard Webb
The next section of the way traces the route of the River Tyne until you reach the coast. The region is famed for its beautiful sandy beaches and one of the first large expanses is Hedderwick Sands.
Walkers hug the edge of the sands and then cross a footbridge into the atmospheric Hedderwick Hill pine forest. It’s part of the East Links Family Park.
You now find yourself in John Muir Country Park, where the John Muir Way signposts lead to Belhaven Bay. This was once a harbour – from around the 12th century to the 16th century.
The Way takes you to another bridge over Biel Water. You’ll follow a network of paths, keeping the sea on your left, and walking along the shoreline and over a series of cliffs. The views are breath-taking on a fine day.
Finally, walkers arrive in Dunbar, which is poignant because it is where John Muir was born in April 1838. You can visit the John Muir's Birthplace museum and see a statue of Muir as a boy. You will have reached the official end of the trail.
More beautiful countryside. Credit: Fiona Outdoors
Walkers are treated to fabulous beaches in East Lothian. Credit: Fiona Outdoors
Highlights of the John Muir Way final stage
North Berwick Law
The Law is a small hill, rising to 187 metres and located just off the John Muir Way at North Berwick. It gives fantastic views over East Lothian and the Forth.
Preston Mill and Phantassie Doocot
Preston Mill has a Dutch-style conical roof and was East Lothian’s last working water mill. Nearby is the beehive-shaped Phantassie Doocot, built in the 16th century and to home some 500 pigeons.
Located on the edge of a series of cliffs and looking out to Bass Rock, the castle was once a stronghold of the Douglas family. You can climb the castle towers for views of Bass Rock. Look out for gannets plunging into the North Sea.
The huge beach is home to impressive wildlife habitats amid a salt marsh and sand dunes. It’s also a good place to learn to surf (with the surf school). Plus there’s a “bridge to nowhere”.
The harbour is a great place to stroll, looking at fishing boats and leisure boats. Plus it is often the location of events and festivals.
Read about the first stage of the John Muir Way, from Helensburgh to Balloch.