Did you know that the founder of the modern conservation movement was born in Scotland? John Muir, who spent his childhood in Dunbar, East Lothian, is also hailed as the father of national
parks and anyone who loves the many preserved wild places across the world has him to thank in part.
Now Muir, who spent most of his life in America, is to be recognised in his birth country with a dedicated Scottish John Muir Day. On April 21, many people in Scotland will be celebrating the life and conservation work of John Muir at a host of events.
More about John Muir
Born on April 21, 1838, in Dunbar, Muir emigrated with his family to Wisconsin in America when he was 11 years old. Starting his working life in industry and showing great potential for success, he famously and suddenly quit to walk solo across America to the Gulf of Mexico. His book, A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf, charts the extraordinary journey.
Between 1870 and 1890, Muir explored the High Sierra and Alaska and it was here that he became alarmed by the threat of man-made developments and the domestication going on in wild and natural environments.
It was Muir’s forward-thinking ideas that first made people stop to think about how to safeguard the world’s wilderness areas.
Muir was behind many campaigns to protect natural areas such as Yosemite and the Sierra. In 1892 he formed the Sierra Club to “do something for wildness and make the mountains
glad”. Muir was also a key player in the establishment of America’s Sequoia and Yosemite parks.
According to the history books, Muir never forgot his Scottish roots and was often heard talking about his childhood spent exploring the beautiful East Lothian coastline, where today you’ll find the John Muir Country Park.
In the UK, our amazing national parks, such as Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and the Cairngorms National Park in Scotland, and Exmoor, Snowdonia, Yorkshire Dales, among many others I England and Wales, might never have been created if it wasn’t for Muir’s legacy.
On April 21, 2013, the 175th anniversary of his birth, John Muir Day will be marked on the UK calendar. Look out too, next April, for the launch of a new John Muir Trail walk across Scotland.
Where to celebrate John Muir Day
On April 21, join a special John Muir guided walk through Scotland's first National Nature Reserve of Beinn Eighe. The walk starts at 11am at Beinn Eighe NNR. See NNR Scotland
- Mad about Muir takes place on April 21 at 2pm at Muir of Dinnet NNR, Aberdeenshire. Join a theatre group for a free, fun and interactive walk at the Burn o Vat. Booking essential. Tel. 013398 81667
- A guided geology walk on John Muir Day takes place at Dunkeld heading to Schiehallion in Perthshire. See JMT
- The John Muir Birthplace visitor centre in Dunbar will be putting on activities to mark John Muir Day. See JMBT
- The Isle of May can beseen from Muir’s birthplace. And on John Muir Day there will be special activities taking place. The island is a national nature reserve renowned for its bird populations, seals, history and flowers. To reach the island you can catch aboat from Anstruther in Fife (see Isle of May Ferry) and North Berwick in East Lothian (see www.seabird.org).
- John Muir Day at The Falkirk Wheel in central Scotland takes place from 10am to 4pm with lots to do for all the family. See Falkirk Wheel