Two Muirs Trails

This title may bring images of winding trails connecting two beautiful heather clad moorlands. Instead we are celebrating two Scottish heroes, and how the canal has quite literally brought them together.

Thomas Muir (1765-1799) was a radical lawyer living in Bishopbriggs who fought for democracy in both Kirk and Parliament. He supported Friends of the People organisations in Milton of Campsie and Kirkintilloch, and spoke at meetings across Scotland in favour of the people’s right to vote. We can thank Thomas Muir for our present democracy, but he was arrested, tried for sedition in 1793 and sentenced to 14 years transportation to Botany Bay.
Thomas Muir is remembered today with a Thomas Muir Heritage Trail ‘Walking in the Footsteps of the Father of Scottish Democracy’. This starts at Clachan of Campsie and follows the old railway route to Kirkintilloch and joins the canal towpath at the Luggie Aqueduct. The towpath is then followed to Bishopbriggs and the trail ends at Huntershill where Muir lived. Visit East Dunbartonshire libraries for copies of the trail leaflet and a pamphlet on Muir.

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John Muir (1839-1914) is our other hero. Brought up in Dunbar where he formed his lifelong love of nature and wildness, he emmigrated to the USA with his family in 1849. John Muir became the leader of the movement of National Parks in America, starting with his particular love – Yosemite. Muir’s lead has been followed rather belatedly in Scotland, with the creation of our Loch Lomond and Trossachs, and Cairngorms national parks.
John Muir’s work is carried on in Scotland by the John Muir Trust which manages many iconic wilderness areas, the John Muir Association who run a museum in Dunbar and the John Muir Country Park near Dunbar. This year Scottish Natural Heritage is opening a John Muir trail running across Scotland from Dunbar to Helensburgh. The route includes the Forth and Clyde Canal from Twechar to the Luggie Aqueduct at Kirkintilloch. Then it walks hand-in-hand with the Thomas Muir trail along the railway path to Lennoxtown.

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