Read other users walk reports for the long distance trails - and add your own.

NB. This board is for reports on multi-day long distance routes - reports on simply long walks should be added to the standard boards.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

SUW - Portpatrick to Sanquhar

SUW - Portpatrick to Sanquhar

Postby Salix75 » Sat Oct 15, 2022 6:32 pm

Route description: Southern Upland Way

Date walked: 29/09/2022

Time taken: 4.5 days

Distance: 154 km

3 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

My brother and I decided to celebrate his retirement from teaching with a walk not in the (English) school holidays for the first time. We travelled up from Skipton on Thursday 29th September. 6am train to Carlisle, change at Carlisle for Dumfries train, quick bacon butty at Dumfries (nice cafe bloke) before 2.5 hr bus ride to Stranraer, passing through lots of lovely villages with views over the Solway Firth. Quick lunch in Stranraer (Fig and Olive is highly recommended) before a taxi down to Portpatrick (£10 but saved us waiting for a later bus and got us going sooner).

Distances all from Garmin Fenix GPS. Walked in Brooks Cascadia GTX trail running shoes with gaiters. Didn't keep feet dry over worst bits - wading through calf-deep water - but were tough enough for the job. The walking is on the fast side - lots of stretches of good trail and roads on this section. I understand it gets slower / hillier from Sanquhar onwards. The mileages in the Cicerone guide book were very accurate. Mileages in some of the blog posts on here less so... :)

Day 1 - Portpatrick to Stranraer - 10.8 miles. As we only got going at 1pm, we decided to divert to Stranraer and spend the first night in the Aird Donald campsite where I had booked the two camping barrels they have. They were excellent (at £40 each) - dry, spacious, with solar-powered lighting and USB charging points. It meant we didn't have to pitch / unpack and we set off on day 2 dry after the early morning turned wet. Plus we got to go into Stranraer for pasta at Lando's - another strong recommend.

Day 2 - Stranraer to Beehive Bothy - 18.65 miles. Rain soon started and turned heavy with very strong winds. Found a folly shelter in the grounds of Castle Kennedy for a brew, then a really lovely route (despite the weather) through the woodland edge of forestry, across the Water of Luce and up onto the moors on the other side. Found a derelict building to shelter in for lunch - in the only room that still had (most of) its roof. Did the job despite being full of sheep ****. Onwards in improving weather onto moors with massive wind farms and then into forestry and a close encounter with a beautiful large fox. A bit sooner than expected, we came upon the Beehive Bothy which we had to ourselves as the weather resolved into a beautiful sunny calm evening. Showers overnight.

Day 3 - Beehive Bothy to White Laggan Bothy - 25.8 miles. Long day - too long probably with the packs we were carrying. Distance includes half a mile or so of diversion for lunch at House O' Hill at Bargrennan.

Up and out at about 0710 up a hill for morning coffee on top of Craig Airie Fell. Across fellside to a long very quiet road section followed by a tough boggy section to Bargrennan for lunch at the House O’ Hill hotel. Haggis and black pudding fritters and chips and a great pint - Summerside ale from the Steam Packet Brewery. Lovely riverside section - first the River Cree and then the Water of Minnoch.

In amongst bigger hills now as we skirted Loch Trool and, tiring as we passed the 20-mile mark, headed up over a pass to Loch Dee and, finally, nearly 26 miles in, the White Laggan Bothy. Found four men from Penistone / Sheffield there - friendly enough and offered us beer and whisky. Pitched and then cooked up the gnocchi, pesto and chorizo as 72-year-old Peter arrived in the dark. Showers again overnight.

Day 4 - White Laggan Bothy to somewhere above Stroanpatrick - 23.2 miles.

Up and off at about 0730 in improving weather. Lots of forestry track walking, coffee on edge of Clatteringshaws Loch followed by a climb over some great woodland scrub and open fells followed by a bit of road down to a lovely river. Finally a climb up over Waterside Hill and then down to St John’s Town of Dalry. Don't listen to the Cicerone guide book which says the underfoot conditions improve from here - they don't, at least as far as Sanquhar.

Lunch (after some persuasion as they were fully booked) at the Clachan Inn, followed by a fortuitous free strawberry tart from the shop opposite. Up the high street and out onto the fells again, mixed walking, some good, some boggy over Culmark Hill and down to Stroanfreggan Bridge. Gathered our energies for a last push about half a mile or so up from Stroanpatrick to find a great camping spot immediately off the trail in amongst the footings of a now lost farmhouse. Good food in the sunset and then a very quiet, still, dry night!

Day 5 - Stroanpatrick to Sanquhar - 17.9 miles.

Up at 6am to break camp for the last time. Left at 0715. A climb to begin up Manquhill Hill and then a stiff climb to Benbrack and the Andy Goldsworthy striding arch.

Mentally and physically gruelling next bit up and down over very boggy ground and finally into forestry, Allan’s Cairn and a big track down to the Chalk Memorial Bothy for coffee and an early lunch. Cracked on along road, past BT Openreach engineers laying fibre and then back onto the fellside to climb Cloud Hill before a long cross-country descent to Sanquhar. Sandwiches and beer from the Co-op and then the 1632 train back to Carlisle and then onto Skipton, getting home just before 8.30pm.

Fuel x 2
Pack cover
Charger pack x 2
Microfibre towel
Toilet paper
Sudocrem (for feet!)
Blister plasters
Lighter / matches
Sleeping bag
Silk bag liner
Head torch
Water carriers (2 x 1.5l), plus extra one for carrying sourced water for boiling
Dry bags (small and large)

Trail shoes (Brooks Cascadia GTX - stood up well!)
Socks x 7
Camp socks
Long johns
Running tights
Base layers x 2
Mid layer x 1
T-shirt x 1
W’proof jacket
Waterproof trousers
Gloves x 2 (hands run cold)
Phone charger cable
Watch charger cable
Cash / card

Various energy bars
Breakfast mix
Hot chocolate sachets
Aeropress (luxury item)
Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 15, 2022

Re: SUW - Portpatrick to Sanquhar

Postby Charles Wallis » Fri Oct 28, 2022 10:20 am

Well done. Sounds like a pretty tough walk. I see you got the usual welcome at the Clachan Inn in Dalry, but at least you did get served eventually. If you look at my report for that section in 2019, I turned up there at 7pm after walking 24 miles solo from Bargrennan. I was starving and when I asked to be served they said there was no space; not for just one! I couldnt believe it. Shop was shut. Fortunately a kindly landlady at the Air BB cooked me a meal, way beyond her remit so I left her a large tip.
That apart it was a lovely walk.
Charles Wallis
Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 16, 2019

3 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Walkhighlands community forum is advert free

Your generosity keeps this site running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and the online community by donating by direct debit?

Return to Walk reports - Long Distance routes

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests