John Muir

I was in Edinburgh over the weekend and took a trip out to Dunbar to see where John Muir grew up.  The house with a very good display about his life and achievements used to be the grain store next to the house where he lived (which is big, and for sale if you fancy it).

If you are in the area it’s well worth a visit, and if you don’t know about John Muir then his wikipedia page is worth a visit too. For more information then why not try Mary Colwell‘s excellent book (reviewed here).

Muir left Dunbar at the age of ten years when his family moved to the USA and he lived in Wisconsin where he saw enormous flocks of Passenger Pigeons less than 50 years before their extinction in the wild (see A Message from Martha p69).

He was an influential campaigner for the protection of America’s wilderness through National Parks.

This quote struck me as relevant today, with our sub-standand, dewilded National Parks and to the difficulty that Scottish Mountaineering has got itself into.

It is impossible to overestimate the value of wild mountains and mountain temples as places for people to grow in, recreation grounds for soul and body. They are the greatest of our natural resources, God’s best gifts, but none, however high and holy, is beyond reach of the spoiler. In these ravaging money-mad days monopolizing San Francisco capitalists are now doing their best to destroy the Yosemite Park, the most wonderful of all our great mountain national parks.’


Statue of John Muir as a boy in Dunbar. There are still lots of Herring Gulls there.
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7 Replies to “John Muir”

  1. John Muir is still little known in his native Scotland. In his biography, My Boyhood and Youth, John Muir recounts his time in Dunbar and his emigration to America. He would be ashamed of the Scottish National Park system which emulates the "English" model of landscape parks rather than parks that are state owned and managed primarily for wildlife.

    1. Totally agree with you. I reread that book a few weeks ago and the utterly amazing thing about JM was his abilities as an inventor (the Scottish blood?), I was gobsmacked at how clever he was mechanically and it seems in his time an awful lot of people were too. A very smart and remarkable guy.

  2. Dunbar is nice. In the breeding season there is a great Kittiwake colony on the cliffs around the harbour. We stayed at the Rocks hotel and watched seals from our bedroom window.

  3. Thanks Mark. Your post took me right back to staying at Yellowcraig campsite close to the seahore near North Berwick. Adjacent was the John Muir Way, leading through woodland and out at sea Bass Rock was visible, home to about a million gannets. Dunbar harbour was home to kittwakes perched along the red stone walls. Met up with John Muir again a few years ago whilst on a road trip with family living in US - it was somewhere remote & beautiful & protected in New Mexico where there were info boards about him. Currently in Texas staying with family - who used to live in Scotland - so the connections are coming thick & fast! What a vision he had.


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