COP26 Pilgrimage – collecting soils

The pilgrimage to COP26 began on the morning of the 18th October 2021, leaving from outside John Muirs Birthplace in Dunbar. Pilgrims from all walks of life made the journey from Dunbar to Glasgow over two weeks, some walking the whole way and others part of the route.  Along the way soils were collected at different locations on the route, each of the soils has a significance, a story to tell, you can find out more about the start of the pilgrimage journey, including the initial soil ceremony held in Dunbar Battery on the 17th and the stories of the soils donated for that in more detail in Natalie Taylor’s fellowship blog.

Summary of the soils collected on the pilgrimage below: (more details and the stories will be shared in an online publication soon)

  1. Phantassie Farm, East Linton
  2. Gullane Golf course
  3. Aberlady Bird Reserve
  4. Musselburgh Bird Hide
  5. Portobello Community Orchard
  6. Scottish Parliament grounds
  7. St. Marys Cathedral grounds, Edinburgh
  8. Granton Castle Walled garden, Edinburgh
  9. Lauriston Farm, Edinburgh
  10. Abercorn Kirk, South Queesnferry
  11. Kinneil Nature Reserve
  12. Garden in Falkirk belonging to Syrian refugee family
  13. Falkirk Wheel
  14. Forth and Clyde Canal, near Kelvinhead
  15. Lambhill Stables
  16. Possil Marsh


With the making of the cape and it’s jouney to the climate conference in Glasgow, we hope to highlight the  importance of our soils and inspire discussion and action in how we can protect and nourish our precious soils.

Scotland’s soils contain more than 3,000 megatonnes of carbon. This is about 60 times the amount of carbon held in our trees and plants, making soils our main terrestrial store of carbon. Agricultural soils have the greatest potential to hold more carbon – an estimated 115 megatonnes of it. This would be equivalent to 22% of total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from Scotland’s energy sector. We need to boost the carbon stock of Scottish soils, which appear to be losing carbon at rates not seen before. (NatureScot)

The Keeper of the Soils Cape has been worn by  NLA John Muir fellow Natalie Taylor and other pilgrims on the different stages of the pilgrimage.

Soil Ceremony – Dunbar Battery, 17th Oct, Pilgrimage Launch Event

Soil from Phantassie Farm, East Lothian

Collecting soil from Aberlady Mud Flats