24 Mar 2010

Setting a trail from Dunbar

After everything winter has given to us this year, I feel the need for some kind of offering to spring, a pledge of gratitude to the ribbons of warmth that are creeping into the wind.

Dunbar in East Lothian seems the proper place from which to set out as we head into the season of green shoots and long, light-filled days. It was in Dunbar that the great naturalist John Muir was born in 1838. Muir lived most of his life in the United States, dedicating his time to preserving wild places and in doing so becoming one of America’s most influential environmental advocates.
In honour of his memory and accomplishments, the construction of the John Muir Way was undertaken and the trail now stretches along 45 miles of East Lothian coastline, taking in sandy beaches, wetland habitat, and dramatic rock formations. For day-trekkers, the route has been split into manageable pieces that highlight specific beauty spots and historical areas.

The only time I was in Dunbar it was howling a gale and freezing cold. Yet I knew that if I could just get back there on a clear spring day, I could set myself the task of walking all the way to North Berwick or to Dunglass.
It would be worth starting with a tour of the house where Muir was born, in order to fill your mind with inspiration for the coastline that drew the young Muir towards as life as a naturalist. The house was closed when I was there, so instead I spent a long time beside the lonely ruins of Dunbar Castle, watching the gulls ride the updraft as if it were some gentle hand and not the violent palm that I felt against my ears.
I hated being driven away by the weather, but I still stopped to take one last photo of a fairytale woman and her precious goose. But that was then, and now the buds are pushing out of the tree branches and there are colourful flowers are popping up in every park.

Spring is finally here and we can start shedding some of the fleece layers and venturing out onto the trails. I don't care if it is beaches, forests or mountains, here’s to getting outside as much as possible this season, both for the pleasure of it and as a small token of gratitude to Mr. Muir.

Now everyone give your goose a good squeeze.

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