Southern Upland Way
Dumfries & Galloway to Borders, Scotland
Distance: 212 miles (341km)
Time: 12-16 days
Surface: Moorlands, Field Trails, Secondary Roads
The Southern Upland Way weaves its way through a landscape of gently rounded, undulating hills, with only occasional rock outcrops, this landscape has been sculpted and hewn by the relentless process of glaciation. Bisected by Britain’s first coast-to-coast, long-distance footpath running from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea, it has something for everyone. There are short sections that are ideal for a family day out, as well as long and arduous segments that only the experienced walker will complete in a single day. The route passes through sparsely populated landscapes, and although it avoids the high tops, it still manages an overall elevation gain in excess of 28,600 feet (8,717 m). From the west at Portpatrick, you pass over rugged cliffs, through sheep pastures, over low moorland and forest tracts, and to the hills around Glentrool. The route hugs the lowlands through the Galloway Hills before crossing open moorlands again and through St. John’s Town of Dairy. Sanquhar. St. Mary’s Loch, the largest natural loch on the Scottish borders and reputed to be the deepest loch in Scotland, is skirted, followed by a series of heather-clad meadows and a final cliff top stroll that takes you into Cockburnspath.
Although the Southern Upland Way is marked, it is not easy navigating your way across mist-filled moorlands, of which there are many. The long distances between many of its stages need to be calculated accurately and planned for (it is no fun running out of daylight when you don’t have a tent), and there is the issue of a lack of facilities. Yet properly managed and prepared for this is a wonderful walk through a living landscape.