Newly opened in the autumn of 2014, the John Muir Way runs from coast to coast across the breadth of the Scottish heartland, with wonderful variety and good facilities close by.

John Muir Way
© Kyoshi Masamune

Runners will share much of their journey with cyclists on a route that mixes canals, refurbished old railway tracks, grassy paths and quiet roads.

The quality of the surface allows for good, fast running, with a few steeper sections thrown in for good measure.

The best scenery is saved for last, with dramatic coastal cliffs, sandstone arches and a spectacular waterfall near Dunglass.

If you want the natural beauty and excitement of a running holiday without the challenge of rough terrain, this is the trail for you.

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Map of the Cleveland Way

Route facts

  • Length 132.5 miles (212 km)
  • Ascent 8573 ft (2613 m)
  • High point 869 ft (265 m)
  • Ascent per km 12.5 m
  • Start and Finish
  • Helensburgh/Dunbar
  • Grade
  • Easy to Strenuous  
  • Season
  • 1st March to 31st October

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  • Edinburgh, Arthurs Seat.

    Edinburgh, Arthurs Seat.

  • Volcanic Plug along the John Muir Way

    Volcanic plug, Strathblane.

  • Edinburgh Castle

    Edinburgh Castle.

Trail profile

John Muir Way Route Profile

Itineraries

4 nights
3 days running

Grade: Strenuous

Helensburgh

70 km (44 miles) and 1118 m (3668 ft) ascent

Kilsyth

76 km (47.5 miles) and 1041 m (3415 ft) ascent

Edinburgh

66 km (41 miles) and 454 m (1490 ft) ascent

Dunbar

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Tour code: TJMW-1

Price £500 per person

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6 nights
5 days running

Grade: Challenging

Helensburgh

44 km (27.5 miles) and 830 m (2723 ft) ascent

Strathblane

41 km (25.5 miles) and 494 m (1621 ft) ascent

Falkirk

38 km (24 miles) and 426 m (1398 ft) ascent

South Queensferry

43 km (27 miles) and 498 m (1634 ft) ascent

Cockenzie

46 km (29 miles) and 365 m (1198 ft) ascent

Dunbar

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Tour code: TJMW-2

Price £630 per person

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8 nights
7 days running

Grade: Moderate

Helensburgh

35 km (22 miles) and 599 m (1965 ft) ascent

Killearn

33 km (20.5 miles) and 519 m (1703 ft) ascent

Kilsyth

32 km (20 miles) and 384 m (1260 ft) ascent

Linlithgow

23 km (14.5 miles) and 250 m (820 ft) ascent

South Queensferry

23 km (14.5 miles) and 403 m (1322 ft) ascent

Edinburgh

36 km (22.5 miles) and 187 m (614 ft) ascent

Dirleton

30 km (19 miles) and 267 m (876 ft) ascent

Dunbar

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Tour code: TJMW-3

Price £760 per person

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10 nights
9 days running

Grade: Easy

Helensburgh

26 km (16 miles) and 513 m (1683 ft) ascent

Croftamie (JMW)

18 km (11 miles) and 320 m (1050 ft) ascent

Strathblane

26 km (16 miles) and 284 m (932 ft) ascent

Kilsyth

30 km (19 miles) and 385 m (1263 ft) ascent

Linlithgow

23 km (14.5 miles) and 250 m (820 ft) ascent

South Queensferry

23 km (14.5 miles) and 403 m (1322 ft) ascent

Edinburgh

20 km (12.5 miles) and 95 m (312 ft) ascent

Cockenzie

22 km (14 miles) and 130 m (427 ft) ascent

North Berwick

24 km (15 miles) and 234 m (768 ft) ascent

Dunbar

More Information

Tour code: TJMW-4

Price £850 per person

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Our prices are based upon two people sharing a room. If you are running on your own, or are part of a group, but require a room of your own, one of the following charges applies:

  • Solo Runner Supplement: £40 per person / per night
  • Single Supplement: £30 per person / per night

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

  • Extra night (Standard): £50 per person / per night
  • Extra night (Edinburgh): £65 per person / per night

The price you pay includes:

  • Breakfast each day.
  • Door to door luggage transfer.
  • Maps with the route marked on and a guidebook describing the trail.
  • An information pack containing an itinerary, instructions on how to find your accommodation each night, town plans, information about facilities and places of interest along the trail and a kit list.
  • Detailed travel instructions on how to get to the start of your holiday and back from the end of it.
  • Emergency assistance.

Detailed travel information is sent to you on booking, but we have provided a summary below.

Air

The most convenient airports for the trail are Glasgow International Airport and Glasgow Prestwick International Airport.

Rail

There are two railway stations at Helensburgh; Helensburgh Upper and Helensburgh Central.

Helensburgh Upper (north of the town) sits on the West Highland Railway line between Glasgow and Crianlarich.

Helensburgh Central (south of the town, close to the start of the John Muir Way) sits on a short branch line of the West Highland Railway (via Craigendoran station).

Car

For advice on driving to the start of the trail, please visit www.theaa.com which has a very useful route planner.

Returning to the start

The easiest way to return to the start of the trail from Dunbar is to catch a train to Edinburgh, where rail services then run onwards to Glasgow Queen street. Some rail services then run straight to Helensburgh Central, whilst most run via Helensburgh Upper.
The John Muir Way passes through a collection of fantastic towns, villages and cities on its journey from coast to coast, with a vast range of sights and attractions to explore. If you would like to stay in a particular location a little longer, adding extra nights into your holiday will allow you to do so.

To add a touch of the seaside to your run, consider a rest day at the start of the trail in Helensburgh. With beautiful views from its placement on the River Clyde, Helensburgh plays host to Hill House, designed by the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and the fragrant Geilston Garden for those looking for a picturesque stroll. This handsome Victorian resort has all the necessary amenities available, ensuring a worry-free and peaceful location in which to prepare for your run.

Falkirk, too, offers excellent sites to explore, including a French château set in the Scottish countryside at Callendar House and plenty of fantastic modern architecture, including the famous Kelpies and The Falkirk Wheel. The town is also home to The Helix, an exciting parkland offering activities such as cycling, water sports and much more for those looking for more active pursuits. As well as all of this, Falkirk has a range of shops and eateries to enjoy, as well as sports outlets and health spas if you need to refresh either your kit or yourself before continuing with your run.

The capital city of Edinburgh is a fantastic choice for an extra night’s stay, offering a vast amount to see and do. Walk between the stone townhouses in the World Heritage Site of Old Town and New Town; visit Edinburgh Castle, perched atop the remains of an extinct volcano, or take in the incredible city skyline from Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park; not to mention the countless museums, galleries, theatres and other landmarks that Edinburgh offers. There is certainly something here to satisfy everyone’s tastes, including modern and traditional shops, markets, bars and restaurants galore, as well as plenty of health centres and spas for those in need of a little TLC.

Many people also like to celebrate the completion of their trail running holiday by spending an extra day in Dunbar, the birthplace of John Muir himself. This town offers all the usual amenities of a seaside resort, combining historic buildings, spectacular landscapes and various shopping facilities and activities to suit everyone. Enjoy the sandy beaches or visit the ruin of Dunbar Castle, before taking your pick of the wonderful eateries available and reflecting on your fantastic achievement.

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