Interim arrangement will allow trust and partners to explore future governance and funding of coast-to-coast trail.
A wild places charity is to take on the interim management of the John Muir Way – one of Scotland’s great long-distance trails - from later this year.
The John Muir Trust will look after the route - a host to 400,000 walkers every year - from 1 September 2023 to 1 September 2024, with an option to then take on or step back from its management long-term.
Opened in April 2014 as part of the Scottish Government’s Homecoming Scotland campaign, 46 per cent of Scotland’s population (2.46million people) live within 10 miles of the 134-mile coast-to-coast route.
It runs through central Scotland and links John Muir's birthplace in Dunbar in the East with Scotland's first national park, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, and Helensburgh in the West, from where John Muir left Scotland for the United States.
The route features a wide range of scenery including upland paths, rolling farmland, historic canal towpaths and two major cities, as well as woodlands, country parks, beaches and cliff tops.
The John Muir Way has been managed to date by a co-ordinated partnership which comprises ten Access Authorities and 11 other organisations; including the John Muir Trust, and currently led by the charity, Green Action Trust.
Last year, the Green Action Trust announced its decision to step away from its management role following a change in its strategy.
Since then, the partnership group has been looking for a lead partner to take on the day-to-day management of the route.
Kevin Lelland, director of development and communications at the John Muir Trust, said: “We are excited by the potential of this great Scottish trail to benefit communities, people and nature.
“Thousands of people have completed our John Muir Award education initiative on the John Muir Way to date.
“Interim management gives us the opportunity to build on this and explore with communities and partners across Scotland’s major population belt, all the different opportunities for the John Muir Way to be sustained for the benefit of all.”
The Trust will pick-up day to day co-ordination and management of the partnership that maintains the route and start a process to explore developing a new vision for the trail, including investigating potential new governance and funding models for the John Muir Way.
The Trust will decide whether to take on the permanent management of the trail by September 2024.