The Southern Upland Way
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Guidebook for walking the Southern Upland Way National Trail. This Scottish coast to coast walk runs for 212 miles (341km) from Portpatrick on the west coast to Cockburnspath on the east. The walk is described in 13 stages suitable for a two-week holiday. Possibilities for shorter walks along the Way are also described.
- April to October, with spring and autumn recommended. In winter accommodation is closed, and it becomes a backpacking route.
- Dalry, Sanquhar, Wanlockhead (Britain’s highest village), Moffat, Galashiels, Melrose and Lauder
- Waymarked trail, but navigation skills needed. Only for suitably equipped and experienced backpackers in winter.
- Must See
- Castle Kennedy Gardens, Wanlockhead Lead Mining Museum, Traquair House, Melrose Abbey, Thirlestane Castle and gardens
The best long distance walking trails have two characteristics that make them great: a succession of dramatic landscapes coupled with a broad selection of interesting places to visit along the way. The Southern Upland Way, Scotland’s Coast to Coast walk and the longest of the National Trails north of the Border scores highly on both.
The guidebook divides the walk into thirteen stages of varying length that will fill a two-week walking holiday. This long distance walk is at times a somewhat strenuous one, but advice is given on how all the longer stages may be broken down into shorter, more manageable sections.
Possibilities for shorter walking holidays along the Southern Upland Way are also fully described. The guide is packed with information on the many places of interest passed en route and the historical connections are thoroughly discussed.
- The Way is described in thirteen stages – suitable for a two-week walking holiday
- West to east route description
The Southern Upland Way
Which way to go: west to east or east to west?
What time of year to walk the Trail?
Ways of tackling the SUW
Luggage transport and drop-off/pick-up services
Accommodation along the SUW
Getting to and from the SUW
Planning: what to do before you leave home
Navigating along the SUW
Access in Scotland
SUW information leaflets and boards
Completion certificates and SUW badges
A High Level Alternative Coast to Coast Route
Notes on using this guidebook
Stage 1 Portpatrick to Castle Kennedy
Stage 2 Castle Kennedy to New Luce
Stage 3 New Luce to Bargrennan
Stage 4 Bargrennan to St John's Town of Dalry
Stage 5 St John's Town of Dalry to Sanquhar
Stage 6 Sanquhar to Wanlockhead
Stage 7 Wanlockhead to Beattock (Moffat)
Rest Day Moffat and environs
Stage 8 Beattock (Moffat) to Tibbie Shiels (St Mary's Loch)
Stage 9 Tibbie Shiels (St Mary's Loch) to Traquair (Innerleithen)
Stage 10 Traquair (Innerleithen) to Melrose
Stage 11 Melrose to Lauder
Stage 12 Lauder across the Lammermuir Hills to Longformacus
Stage 13 Longformacus to Cockburnspath
Appendix 1 Bothies along the SUW
Appendix 2 Bibliography
Appendix 3 Useful addresses, telephone numbers and websites
This guidebook contains Ordnance Survey Landranger (1:50,000) mapping of the entire SUW with the route of the Trail clearly overlaid. Provided no serious navigational errors occur en route, nor long detours from the Way are envisaged, then in theory this is the only mapping that is required to walk the Trail. However, many walkers will want to carry some general maps of the area with them, as these are useful for a number of reasons. When you reach one of the many viewpoints along the SUW you will see other distant hills and ranges, villages and small towns, and a whole topography of land and seascape. What are those villages, those hills, that coastline? Unless you have a detailed knowledge of the area, or are walking with a local guide, then the answers to these and other similar questions can only be answered by reference to a good map. Sometimes it will be necessary to divert from the actual line of the Way to secure a night’s accommodation. Several places of interest are varying distances from the route, from a few hundred yards to several miles, and in order to plot the shortest or most interesting route to them and back onto the Trail, a map will be invaluable. So you must make a decision whether or not to carry other maps with you when walking the SUW.
If it is decided to carry other maps, then the decision must also be made as to which maps to purchase (or borrow from a public library if desired). The decision is not an easy one to make as the route, heading generally north-eastwards across the southern half of Scotland cuts across a considerable number of Ordnance Survey map sheets. So if OS maps at either 1:50,000 scale or at 1:25,000 scale are to taken then there will firstly be a fairly considerable financial outlay in buying the maps, and then the extra weight and bulk of the maps will have to be tolerated whilst on the walk. A possible solution to these mapping problems is to use the very adequate OS maps of the route contained in this guidebook for actually walking the Trail, but also purchase a small scale map of the whole area, such as the OS’s 1:250,000 scale map of Southern Scotland and Northumberland. The latter will be useful in overall planning before you leave home, but also can be used to identify distant features in a view and to provide an overview of the whole area through which you are passing. This map of course will have severe limitations if you intend to make detailed detours on foot for some distance from the route, although for relatively short on-foot diversions, the maps in this book will be more than adequate.
The maps that cover the entire SUW from west to east are given below for reference.
OS Landranger Series (1:50,000)
(9 sheets cover the whole of the SUW)
Sheet 82: Stranraer & Glenluce* Sheet 71 is unnecessary if Sheet 77 and Sheet 78 are used, as there is sheet overlap.
Sheet 76: Girvan
Sheet 77: Dalmellington & New Galloway
Sheet 71: Lanark & Upper Nithsdale *
Sheet 78: Nithsdale & Annandale
Sheet 79: Hawick & Eskdale
Sheet 73: Peebles, Galashiels & Selkirk
Sheet 74: Kelso & Coldstream
Sheet 67: Duns, Dunbar & Eyemouth
The route of the SUW is clearly shown on these Landranger maps as a line of red diamond symbols.
OS Explorer Series (1:25,000)
(13 sheets cover the whole of the SUW)
Sheet 309: Stranraer & The Rhins* Sheet 318 is unnecessary if Sheet 319 and Sheet 320 are used, as there is sheet overlap.
Sheet 310: Glenluce & Kirkcowan
Sheet 319: Galloway Forest Park South
Sheet 318: Galloway Forest Park North *
Sheet 320: Castle Douglas, Loch Ken & New Galloway
Sheet 328: Sanquhar & New Cumnock
Sheet 329: Lowther Hills, Sanquhar & Leadhills
Sheet 330: Moffat & St Mary’s Loch
Sheet 322: Annandale, Annan, Lockerbie & Beattock
Sheet 337: Peebles & Innerleithen
Sheet 338: Galashiels, Selkirk & Melrose
Sheet 345: Lammermuir Hills
Sheet 346: Berwick-upon-Tweed, Eyemouth & Duns, St Abb’s Head & Cockburnspath
The route of the SUW is clearly shown on these Explorer maps as a line of green diamond symbols.
A few of the maps produced by Harvey Maps (12-22 Main Street, Doune, Perthshire FK16 6BJ; www.harveymaps.co.uk) are useful for SUW Walkers. The following sheets provide mapping of some of the areas through which the SUW passes:
Superwalker Map (1:25,000): Galloway Hills
Walker’s Map (1:40,000): Lowther Hills.
Walker’s Map (1:40,000): Peebles (Manor Hills).
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'Cicerone has produced another polished trail guide, this time to Scotland's official coast to coast route. It divides the 212 mile route across southern Scotland into 13 stages and includes not just extensive route descriptions and maps but also detailed breakdown on the distances. There's a handy appendix on the six bothies along the trail, as well as plenty of interesting background information.
(Walk magazine / Winter 2007)
'A prolific walker and guidebook writer, Alan Castle has walked the Southern Upland Way twice. He describes the route from west to east, each stage has its own 1:50,000 OS mapping with the route clearly overlaid. The guide includes historical background information and local interest information along the way.
The guide is well laid out, easy to follow and the text is accompanied by full colour photographs, all designed to add attraction to the route. Add it to your walks to do in 2008 - and don't forget to take this guidebook with you.'
(Strider / December 2007)
Alan Castle has trekked and cycled in over 30 countries within Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa and Australasia. A member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild, he has written 18 guidebooks, several on long-distance mountain routes in France. An erstwhile national secretary and long-distance path information officer of the Long Distance Walkers Association, Alan now lives at the foot of the Moffat Hills in Scotland.View Guidebooks by Alan Castle
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