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Best foot forward

THERE'S a new walk.

I don't mean new walk as in one where you take two steps forward with your left foot then one with your right, rather than the controversial one left, one right method used at present.

I mean new walk as in trail or way, the sort that serious walkers hirple aboot on, generally starting off at point A and ending up at point not A (often B, but rarely Q or W, except for advanced practitioners).

The John Muir Way will be opened by yon First Minister, Ecksworth Salmond, in April. It's named after the famous Scottish-born environmentalist, who kick-started America's national parks, and it's opening on the centenary of his death.

Indeed, the way starts at his birthplace in Dunbar, East Lothian, and ends in Helensburgh, Argyll, though it may also be possible to start at Helensburgh and end up in Dunbar.

Both are fine places either way, and the 130-mile route linking east to west (or, indeed, vice-versa under certain conditions) is expected to attract 1.8 million waddlers in its first year.

As that's nearly every able-bodied person in Scotia Minor, I fear the prediction is generous. It means nearly 5000 people a day will be on their way, as it were.

That's what makes me wary of "official" walks and ways. Some are busier than Sauchiehall Street. They get clogged with bearded women who can talk about socks for two hours.

Indeed, once, when my own independent route crossed the Pennine Way in Yorkshire, the hostel I stayed in was thrown into uproar after somebody alleged his executive-style walking sock had been stolen.

As I was Scottish and had long hair, I was the chief suspect. Also because I was Scottish and had long hair, I explained in colourful detail my view about his sock — and his beard and his peculiar-looking knees — before heading back to the peace of the unofficial byways.

This new walk also allows cyclists, who've already ruined many green routes for pedestrians and who should restrict their unpleasant hobby to the privacy of their own homes.

But I don't mean to be churlish. If this way encourages the proletariat to waddle forth in green places, then we say whoo, as it were, hoo.

For beginners, incidentally, I'd advise sticking to the left-foot, right-foot method of walking until you get more experience.

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Beauty

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