Southern Uplands Way

  • View from the top of Dryhope Tower - © Flickr user Andrew Bowden
  • Killantringan Bay - © Flickr user Andrew Bowden
  • Loch Trool - © Flickr user Les Dunford
  • Sheep pen and forest - © Flickr user Andrew Bowden
  • A great big giant rock - © Flickr user Andrew Bowden
  • Another walker - © Flickr user Andrew Bowden
  • Approaching cove harbour - © Flickr user Andrew Bowden

Key information: Southern Uplands Way

    • The finest route in southern Scotland runs 341km north-east from Portpatrick on the western Rhinns of Galloway Peninsula to Cockburnspath on the North Sea, across a variety of beautiful, often delightful, and usually empty landscape.
      • The Way mainly traverses grassy (rarely heathery) hills and ridges, treeless other than a certain amount of rather depressing conifer forests (particularly in bits of Galloway and the Lowther Hills), which separate varied but consistently lovely valleys.
        • Rich in history, from prehistoric hill-forts to remains of the Romans to ancient abbeys, churches, castles and towers, to fine houses and their gardens, to monuments and reminders of Scotland's bloody civil and religious strife.
          • Lovely and interesting towns to explore. Staying here is a pleasure, not a function.
            • These can be tough and remote hills, with always unpredictable weather. Come prepared.
            •  

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating86.5
  • Beauty31
  • Natural interest14.5
  • Human interest10
  • Charisma31
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating86.5

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 341km
  • 212m
  • Maximum Altitude: 720m
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate
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Killantringan Bay - © Flickr user Andrew Bowden

WALK SUMMARY

The finest route in southern Scotland  runs 341km (212 miles) north-east from Portpatrick on the western Rhinns of Galloway Peninsula to Cockburnspath on the North Sea, across a variety of beautiful, often delightful, usually empty landscape.

The Way mainly traverses grassy (rarely heathery) hills and ridges, treeless other than a certain amount of rather depressing conifer forests (particularly in bits of Galloway and the Lowther Hills), which separate valleys which vary from rushing upland streams and larger rivers winding through wide, lonely bottoms, to the grand, lower valleys of impressive rivers such as the Tweed. While most of its hills are rolling rather than sheer, its scenery varies to include rough crags, moorland, hill farmland and even some arable land. And the odd loch - and even, at beginning and end, sea-cliffs.

While these hills are not high (the biggest is a mere 720m), they are beautiful and atmospheric.

The land is rich in history, from prehistoric hill-forts to remains of the Romans to ancient abbeys, churches, castles and towers, to fine houses and their gardens, to monuments and reminders of Scotland-s bloody civil and religious strife.

There are lovely and interesting towns to explore, from the pleasing market town of Moffat to ancient Melrose. Staying here is a pleasure, not a function.

Many walkers slackpack - have their luggage transported to the next stop while they walk with a daypack - although some walk with all their kit, some even camp their way.

The ridges in this area mainly run north-southish, so the Way heads across the grain of the land. Some sections are long and tiring, but this is not difficult walking if you are moderately fit.

The Way is divided into 13 stages, best walked west to east to keep any poor weather at your back. While a walking the whole route will be very rewarding, most walkers will tackle a few days, or indeed just a day stretch or create a circuit over some of the best sections. (The Cicerone guide has a number of good suggestions for creating day or few-day walks. "Half-Ways" would naturally start/end at Moffat as it is... er... roughly half way and has good connections.)

Best sections include:

  • the cliffs of the Rhinns of Galloway peninsula near Stranraer;
  •  the lovely and empty Galloway hills, including Ochiltree Hill, the area round Loch Trool, the long (43km) stretch (Stage 5) between St John?s Town of Dalry and Sanquhar, including Manquhill;
  • the Lowther Hills (Stages 6 and the long (33km) 7) which include the highest point of the Way;
  •  the hills south and north of Tibbie Shiels and St Mary?s Loch (where Stages 8 and 9 meet); lovely hill walking, some on fine ridges and on old drove roads and passing the ruins of old towers, as well as the shores of the large and lovely  loch itself;
  • the superb high-level old drove road from Innerleithen to the outskirts of Galashields, over Brown Knowe, under Broomy law and over Three Brethren (Stage 10, 28km, 17.3 miles total of skirting Galashields to Melrose); and
  • the crossing of the Lammermuir Hills from Lauder to Longformacus (Stage 12, 25km).

Much of this route will be empty of walkers, and even the more popular stretches will seldom be busy.

Have a look at the dreaded TripAdvisor - you should get some good, current views on relevant places.

THIS PAGE NEEDS FURTHER DEVELOPMENT: ALL IDEAS AND PHOTOS WELCOME! 

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Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Sheep pen and forest - © Flickr user Andrew Bowden

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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A great big giant rock - © Flickr user Andrew Bowden...
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