Cycling the route
The John Muir Way makes a fantastic cycle route usually taking about 4 or 5 days, depending on your temptation to linger and explore.
It's intended to provide a pleasant and sometimes challenging cycle through the countryside, not – like many traditional cycle routes – an efficient way from A to B on a bike.
What type of bike should I use?
We strongly recommend using a mountain bike, hybrid, sturdy tourer or gravel bike with good puncture resistant tyres. For comfort and to reduce the chances of a puncture on the rougher sections, go for tyres at least 30mm wide.
In some places there are short steep and rough sections, and individual obstacles like kerb edges and tight corners, which will be challenging if you have a heavily-laden touring bike. The surfaces and gradient, or simply the presence of pedestrians, may at times mean that cyclists have to push.
Unavoidably, some short sections are on busier roads which aren't so suitable for the less experienced.
What route should I follow?
The whole route is waymarked and for the most part you'll be on the shared walking and cycling route. However you'll find in some places the waymarked cycle route diverges from the walking route on cycling 'braids', shown in green on the interactive maps.
These usually provide smoother and flatter options to the walking route which may be steep and bumpy or involve stairs. The braids are more suited to touring bikes with panniers. In some places, such as on the Antonine Wall, the braids are there to discourage cycling on a particularly vulnerable surface.
Many of the waymarked walking sections where the cycle route diverges are actually quite suitable (and fun) to ride but you'll need to be on a bike suited to off-road riding, such as a gravel or mountain bike. This particularly applies to sections 1 and 2 where the walking route surface can be rough and steep.
You'll find maps of each section and GPX files on our maps page.
For a good mixture of paved/unpaved riding, check out the version of the route put together by Bikepacking Scotland, where you'll find route maps and tips plus GPX map downloads.
If you'd like a leisurely cycle, try hiring an electric bike and cruise along the route.
Sharing the Path
As the majority of the John Muir Way travels along shared paths, there are many sections used for activities from dog walking and horse riding to fishing and commuting.
Please always check your speed when there are other people around and alert path users to your presence. It's highly recommended that your bike has a bell fitted and don't be afraid to use it! On narrow paths where it's difficult to pass safely, please also be prepared to dismount and give way to walkers.
John Muir preferred to 'saunter' rather than 'hike' and an equally relaxed pace on the bike through the busier sections will be appreciated by all. For more about cycling off road and on multi-use paths, please visit the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website.
Following the signs
The John Muir Way is signed in both directions. At braid junctions there will be separate signs for both walkers and cyclists. The sign below, with a bike and W, would be for cyclists heading west.
In some places the John Muir Way logo is incorporated into other signs such as the Sustrans NCN signs. These can be harder to spot when travelling at speed on a bike!
Repairs and Spares
There are numerous bike shops along the length of the route which we've listed on the section pages:
- Falkirk town centre
- Edinburgh - Bruntsfield area
- North Berwick
Hiring a bike
Offering a selection of bikes for hire, including e-bikes, Belhaven Bikes can provide one-way bike hire for those completing the coast to coast route. They can even offer hire bikes just for part of the route, if you want to do a mixture of walking and cycling. Please contact them to discuss your requirements.
Tel. 01368 860300
Conveniently located just a stone's throw from the route start/finish on Helensburgh's waterfront, Helensburgh Cycles have a selection of mountain and e-bikes for hire. Please contact them for details.
Tel. 01436 675239
If you fancy a mixture of "hike & bike" in the western section of the John Muir Way, West Highland Wheels can offer a solution. You can walk to Balloch, pick up your bike and cycle via Strathblane to Kilsyth where West Highland Wheels will collect your hire bike. West Highland Wheels is a fully insured mobile bicycle transfer service with a range of well-maintained bikes for hire. They can also put you in touch with baggage transfer services. Please contact them to discuss your requirements.
Tel. 07031 985 411
Bikes and public transport
Experience tells us that spaces for bikes on trains, especially from Dunbar to Edinburgh can be limited so it is best to book ahead and travel off peak to guarantee your space.