The Southern Upland Way is Scotland's only coast-to-coast long distance route, running across the country from Portpatrick on the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea at Cove to finish after 341km at nearby Cockburnspath.
After leaving rugged cliffs the route crosses easy pastureland, low moorland and forests to reach the first big hills near Glen Trool. Staying relatively low through the Galloway hills it then crosses higher and more open moorland to reach St John's Town of Dalry. It then takes to higher ground, crossing the hills to Sanquhar. Further rolling heather-clad hills lead the route to old mining village of Wanlockhead, whilst the Lowther Hills are crossed to reach Beattock and then St Mary's Loch. Classic Borders country of impressive hills and big rivers is crossed while passing through the lovely settlements of Melrose and Lauder before a final cliff-top walk.
The route is divided on Walkhighlands into sections where there is either accommodation or road access at the end of each stage. Some stages are very long and the route lends itself to wildcamping and/or using the 5 bothies on route.
|1: Portpatrick to Castle Kennedy||21.25km||4-6 hours|
|2: Castle Kennedy to Bargrennan||43km||9-12 hours|
|3: Bargrennan to Dalry||39.75km||9-12 hours|
|4: Dalry to Sanquhar||41.5km||10-12 hours|
|5: Sanquhar to Wanlockhead||12.5km||4-5 hours|
|6: Wanlockhead to Beattock||31.25km||8-10 hours|
|7: Beattock to St Mary's Loch||33.5km||8-10 hours|
|8: St Mary's Loch to Traquair||18.75km||6-8 hours|
|9: Traquair to Melrose||28km||6-8 hours|
|10: Melrose to Lauder||15.75km||4-6 hours|
|11: Lauder to Longformacus||24.25km||7-9 hours|
|12: Longformacus to Cocksburnpath||28.75km||6-8 hours|
The Southern Upland Way is waymarked throughout but crosses hills and moors which can be tricky to navigate in mist. The main difficulty is the length of the stages and the lack of accommodation and facilities. The longer stages can be further broken down if required - see the accommodation section below.
Click to find organised Southern Upland Way walking holiday packages and baggage transfer providers.
There is bed and breakfast accommodation at the end of each of the stages listed above, though some may find a couple of the stages very long - a pick-up could be arranged by your accommodation provider part way through as indicated in the text. Another option is to use one of the open bothies along the route - these are unlocked shelters that offer four walls and a roof but no other facilities; again they are mentioned in the text. The greatest flexibility is afforded to those carrying a tent along the route - the Southern Upland Way is very suitable for wild-camping. See the official Scottish Outdoor Access Code website for details on responsible wild-camping.
Castle Kennedy is a small village with a small shop but no accommodation - there is a B&B fairly nearby and a regular bus to Stranraer which has all facilities.
The next stage can be split by stopping either by detouring to New Luce which has a small hotel (2km off route) but only a short way through the stage, by camping, or by staying at the beehive bothy (sleeping and cooking gear required as with all bothies, no facilities). Bargrennan has a hotel, and there is a campsite along the road towards Glen Trool village.
The following stage is another very long one; it can be broken with a stay at the White Laggan bothy, or by arranging to be picked up by your accommodation provider from the road end above Clatteringshaws Loch. St John's Town of Dalry has hotels and a shop.
Heading from here to Sanquhar is perhaps the toughest stage of all to complete in a single walk. It can be broken with a stay at Chalk Bothy at Polskeoch (28km point); this point is accessible by car so again you could arrange to be picked up by your B&B. Sanquhar itself offers a choice of hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation, as well as shops for supplies and a campsite.
Wanlockhead is a small village but has several bed and breakfasts and an inn. In the summer the mining museum has a cafe.
The next stage has Brattleburn Bothy after 22km, or 2km further is Rivox Bunkhouse, which is 2km off route. At the end of the stage, Beattock is a tiny village but does offer both a hotel and B&B; the nearby town of Moffat offers a wide choice of facilities he nearby town of Moffat offers a wide choice of facilities including a hostel and outdoor shop.
En route to the next stage is an open bothy at Over Phawhope (10km point). St Mary's Loch is an isolated spot and has no accommodation except a very basic campsite; there is a seasonal cafe.
Traquair is another tiny village with no facilities; there is a choice accommodation and facilities 3km off route in the town of Innerleithen.
Lauder is another town, again offering a choice of accommodation and shops for supplies.
Longformacus is an isolated village with no facilities or public transport (taxi or pick up from Duns which has all facilties could be arranged).
Cocksburnpath has a small shop but no accommodation.
There are 248 Walkhighlanders who have completed the Southern Upland Way. To record if you have completed the route, you must register and be logged in. Our users have contributed 31 public walk reports for the route. These are ordered below with the most popular ones first.