Update Southern Upland Way

The Southern Uplands Way is Scotland’s longest footpath and Britain’s longest coast to coast path. It passes through some magnificent scenery and more than any other official path provides the opportunity for solitude while walking.

This magnificent walk has a fearsome reputation because it goes through wild remote countryside and accommodation is often 20 or 30 miles apart. Much of the promotional literature emphasises the tough and challenging nature of the walk.

However, with a little planning and know how, any experienced walker who has done another long distance path can complete this route. Most of the accommodation providers will provide lifts, and this makes the walk do-able for those who like a relaxing holiday rather than a serious challenge. If you enjoy long and challenging treks or backpacking, this walk is superb. But you can take the easy way and it is still superb and satisfying..

Because of the remoteness, it is crucial to be confident and competent with a map and compass, even though most of the path is way-marked and clear on the ground. It is definitely useful to have a GPS, in addition to your map and compass skills. You may have several days of walking when you do not see another person. The western section of the route is sometimes exposed to the full fury of north Atlantic weather systems, consequently you should have some experience of hill walking in bad weather and know what equipment you need.

The route has a reputation for having too much forest and road walking. However, route changes have reduced both factors, while felling and replanting with deciduous trees has produced some very pleasant woodland walking. If you like moorland flowers and moorland birds you will enjoy this walk. Buzzards and Kites are plentiful.

This route perhaps needs more planning than most long distance paths. You need to spend some time with the guidebooks and maps. The Southern Uplands Way website lists accommodation and indicates which places will provide lifts.

Because of the remoteness from the rest of the UK, travel time is an issue. Your travel days to and from home will usually not allow any walking. The lifts add to the cost, maybe £200 to £250 for the whole walk. But if four of you do the walk together it cuts the cost per person.

There is a weekday bus from Carlisle to Stranraer which has connections to Portpatrick, Glentrool and Dalry, get a Dumfries and Galloway Freedom ticket (£8 in 2014) for the whole journey. There are rail stations at Stranraer, Sanquhar, Dumfries, Lockerbie (for buses to Beattock and Moffat), Carlisle (for buses to Stranraer and Galashiels), Dunbar (for buses to Cockburnspath) and Berwick upon Tweed (for buses to Melrose and Cockburnspath). You can get cheap deals on the train if you book ahead. You can break the walks into 3 or 4 day sections, with more travel time and overnight stays, or longer sections at lower cost for the whole walk.

You can either carry your luggage or pay for someone to take it by vehicle to you next place. Many days can be done with a day sac by judicious use of buses or on lift days. It is easy enough to carry your stuff if you know how to travel light.

Here is a breakdown of the sections. Some sections could be merged or broken differently. It would make sense to do Portpatrick to Dalry in a week and Dalry to Moffat in another week.

Portpatrick- Caldons

  1. Arrival day. It is nice to stay at Portpatrick, but if you stay at Stranraer you can do Portpatrick to Castle Kennedy with a day sac, by using the buses.
  2. Portpatrick – Castle Kennedy 14m or Chlenry Farm B&B 16m. There are buses from Castle Kennedy to Stranraer.
  3. Castle Kennedy – New Luce B & B 12m.
  4. New Luce – Knowe 14m. You could get a lift to Knockraven rd junc to save a mile. You will need a lift to Bargrennan/Glentrool and a lift back in the morning. Stay at House o’Hill.
  5. Knowe to House o’ Hill 5m, Caldons – Glentrool House o’ Hill 8m total 13m You will need a lift in the morning and either at midday or at the end of the day if you want to maintain the same direction.

Caldons – Sanquhar

  1. Arrival day. Stay at House o’ Hill. Then stay 4 days at Dalry.
  2. Caldons to Upper Craigenbay pick up point. 13m Lift to Dalry.
  3. Upper Craigenbay – Dalry 8m.

Some walkers could combine walks 3 and 4.

  1. Stroanpatrick – Dalry 8m.
  2. Stroanpatrick – Holm of Dalquhairn Br 12m
  3. Holm of Dalquhairn Br – Sanquhar 12m. Trains: you may have time to get home on the day of this walk.

Walks 5 & 6. You leave the path at Polskeoch and take the Lorg path to Lorg and Holm of Dalquhairn Br. Some transport providers can take you to Lorg (off road).

Sanquhar to Moffat

  1. Sanquhar Wanlockhead 8m. Accommodation at Wanlockhead and Leadhills.

If you can get to Sanquhar for 14.30 by train you will have time to do this as an afternoon walk in British Summertime.

  1. Daer Reservoir Wanlockhead 11m.

Start your walk at east end of Daer Dam

  1. Daer Res– Moffat 11 – 14m. Accommodation at Beattock and Moffat

On your travel home day you may have time to walk the section just south of Moffat, Beattock to Moffat Water bridge.

Moffat to Melrose

Note. The section from Traquair to Melrose can be done while based at Melrose using frequent buses to get to and from your walk.

  1. Travel day. Stay at Moffat or Beattock
  2. Moffat to Scabcleugh 15m. The Moffat Tibbie Shiels section can be split anywhere between Broadgairhill and Scabcleugh. Hartleap B&B or St Mary’s Loch Cappercleugh B&B.
  3. Scabcleugh to Tibbie Shiels 10 or Dryhope 13m
  4. Tibbie Shiels or Dryhope to Innerleithen 13 or 10m. Innerleithen is a good mile off route from Traquair. You could get a taxi for this.
  5. Innerleithen – Galashiels 14m. A hard day, but using buses avoids carrying any more than a daysac. It could be split at the A707 by calling a taxi to Galashiels. The last bit, 3m, could be done with day 6.
  6. Galashiels – Melrose 5m. Short day so climb the 3 Eildons! Or go home!

Melrose to Cockburnspath

  1. Travel Day. There are the Eildons and an Abbey to visit if you arrive early enough.
  2. Melrose – Lauder 11m. You can stay at Lauder or Melrose and use the bus to save bag carrying
  3. Lauder – SUW – Scoud Rigg –Twin Law – Longformacus 16m
  4. Longformacus – Abbey St Bathans 8m
  5. Abbey St Bathans –Cockburnspath 10m (no accommodation at present but buses to Dunbar and Berwick.

Travel day.

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