Southern Upland Way

Southern Upland Way – Scotlands Coast To Coast Path

 This is an image of the Southern Upland Way map.

The Southern Upland Way is Scotland’s long distance coast to coast walk. At 212 miles long and with over 80 summits above 610 metres/2,000 ft it is not an easy walk. Opened in 1984 it runs from Portpatrick on the west coast to Cockburnspath on the east coast. The Southern Upland Way was Britains first coast to coast footpath. The footpath crosses 5 rivers, the Cree, the Water of Ken, the Nith, the Annan and the most well known of them all, the River Tweed. It is a remote walk with no facilities in most areas. Some days we never saw a sole or any habitation for many miles.

This is an image of Portpatrick, the start of the Southern Upland Way.In May 2004 together with friends, we walked the 121½ miles from Portpatrick to Moffat. From Portpatrick the route travels along the coastal cliffs before turning inland and continuing through open fields to Castle Kennedy. On day 1 we walked a distance of 13½ miles. Day 2 saw us walk the short distance of 9 miles to New Luce, passing through the stunning grounds of Castle Kennedy then over open moorland.

From New Luce, on day 3, we started the 18 mile trek to Bargrennan. This was over moorland and then for the majority of its distance through plantations and woodland. The distances were increasing now as day 4 offered a 25½ mile walk to St John’s Town Of Dalry. This was followed by the same distance on day 5 to Sanquhar. We decided to split this 51 mile walk into 3 days. So day 4 saw us walk 17½ miles from Bargrennan to Clatteringshaws Loch. The trek started through the Galloway Forest to Loch Trool, then on higher ground with fantastic views of the countryside, before arriving at Loch Dee and on to Clatteringshaws Loch. We had arranged a pick up to take us the 8 miles to Dalry.

The following day we were dropped at Clatteringshaws Loch and walked the 8 miles through more woodland and open moorland to Dalry. At Dalry we took the opportunity to stop and take refreshments in the local pub. After eating and slaking our thirsts it was a 7½ mile walk to Stroanpatrick where we were again picked up and dropped off the following morning.

This is an image of the Southern Upland Way, Bargrennan to Clatteringshaws.Day 6 was a another long trek, the 18 miles from Stroanpatrick to Sanquhar. Most of this days walking was through remote moorland, skirting the odd wooded area until the forest at Manquhill Hill. From here it was a climb up to the trig point at Benbrack, through more forests, then moorland and down to Sanquhar.

Day 7 gave us the short 8 mile walk to the old lead mining area of Wanlockhead. A leisurely walk saw us arriving at lunchtime where the only source of entertainment was the Wanlockhead Inn, Scotland’s highest pub. With visiting Englands highest pub, the Tan Hill Inn, on the Pennine Way trail, we had only the highest in Wales to visit to complete the trio.

The final day of this years Southern Upland Way trail was the 22 mile walk from Wanlockhead to Moffat. This was to prove to be a very long day starting with the wet climb up to the radar station on Lowther Hill, which was shrouded in mist. It was then down to the A702 road and on through the forests to Daer Water, up to Hods Hill, then an extremely long forest walk down to Beattock. Finally we had the short walk into Moffat and a long recovery time sampling the Guinness at the Black Bull Hotel, our accommodation for the evening. 

Related Content:
Southern Upland Way Part 2


Southern Upland Way — 4 Comments

  1. Fascinating trip, Bill. Gorgeous photos. Looks like you had great scenery to look at as you walked/hiked. Is Southern Upland Way a continuous trail? You say that you are picked up and transported to another area.

    When my son, daughter, and I hiked the Appalachian Trail, up and down the mountain range, my husband would pick us up after our three day journey and take us to a much needed, hot, filling meal at a restaurant. My husband drove with all the windows opened, even in the heat of the summer, and we had trouble keeping our pet flies that we had accumulated during our trek outside the restaurant as we entered. I guess the Inns you and your friends patronize on the trail are used to hikers stopping by for a meal.

    Thanks for sharing your trip.

    • The Southern Upland Way is a continous trail Victoria Marie. We were picked up to be taken to our accommodation for the evening. The following day we were dropped off at the point where we were picked up, so we continued on the trail without missing any of it. The reason being, we are now past walking 25 miles per day, so we split the 50 miles into 3 days.

      Most inns, or pubs as we call them here, are used to walkers especially on the National Trails.


  2. Hi Bill, I love Portpatrick and go often, I have friends who live in Kirkcolm. What a lovely walk, although I doubt I could achieve it! You must have been through some stunning scenery.

    Enjoy the journey.


    • Hi Mandy, although I have travelled all over Scotland it was my first visit to Portpatrick. It was a lovely and remote walk with many long days. I am sure you would be able to manage it with some training beforehand. Next time you are in Portpatrick why not try the short coastal part of the SUW up to Killantringan Bay, I am sure you would enjoy it. Bill