Teenage explorer meets 'John Muir' on the John Muir Way
Bill Wallace Grant recipient Zeki Basan's new film to feature John Muir lookalike Lee Stetson
Scotland’s newest long-distance walking route provided the perfect setting for an encounter between two wild-spirited adventurers from opposite ends of the age spectrum when 16-year-old Zeki Basan from Speyside met 178-year-old John Muir from California.
The teenager was there to make an adventure film on the long-distance trail, while the grand old man of nature conservation was returning to his Scottish roots with the help of Hollywood actor and John Muir impersonator Lee Stetson.
Lee is in Scotland to mark John Muir’s influence on the creation of the US National Park system, which is celebrating its centenary year. He is walking the John Muir Way between April 27 and May 15, and performing his John Muir show at various venues along the way.
Zeki was recently awarded the John Muir Trust’s Bill Wallace Grant to support his adventure along the 134-mile route.
The John Muir Way runs from Muir’s birthplace in Dunbar to Helensburgh on the Firth of Clyde, from where he set sail across the Atlantic with his family at the age of 11.
Lee Stetson said, “I’m a fan of Zeki, I think his short Yosemite film ’In the Spirit of John Muir’ is wonderful. And I’m pleased that his next film will be here in Scotland on the John Muir Way.
“It’s an opportunity for a young person to bring Muir’s message close to hundreds of thousands of people from across the Central Belt and beyond. It’s a good thing.”
Zeki Basan said, “I feel very honoured to have met Lee who has been portraying John Muir for over 30 years. It’s great he has seen my Yosemite film, and I hope to include his words in my new film exploring the John Muir Way.
“All this wouldn’t have been possible without funding from the Bill Wallace Grant, funding that was matched by Central Scotland Green Network Trust. I’m very grateful to have this opportunity to produce a film that will reflect John Muir's vision of appreciating and protecting our environment.”
The Bill Wallace Grant was launched in 2007 as a lasting and personal memorial to Bill Wallace a stalwart of the John Muir Trust who played an important role in the development of the organisation. It aims to help people seek out life-changing experiences in wild places to benefit both person and place.
The John Muir Trust manages the Bill Wallace Grant for free – 100% of money raised goes to adventures and expeditions that benefit people and places.