There are hundreds of routes to follow across the UK, and some of the best and most popular are in Scotland. We've written previously about routes like the Coast & Castles, the Borders Abbeys Way, and the Kintyre 66 which are probably best explored on wheels, but in terms of walking routes in Scotland the absolute best is probably the Southern Upland Way. This epic 214-mile route was actually the first official coast to coast long distance foot-path in Scotland, and has remained a firm favourite with experienced walkers since it was established.
We wanted to publish a guide about this route for 2023 to highlight some of the top things to see and do along the way. There is plenty to visit so you'll definitely want to set aside time for some sightseeing! Let's get into the guide:
Where does the Southern Upland Way start and end?
The Southern Upland Way is a coast to coast route, and it literally takes you from one side of Scotland to the other. Typically, you start in the West and finish in the East (we'll explain why when we break down the sections individually), but you could tackle it any way you like. You can also dip in and out of the route as you like, there are no rules! The official route starts in Portpatrick on the southwest coast of Scotland and ends in Cockburnspath. You won't encounter any summits above 3000ft, but it is worth mentioning that there is plenty of hill walking along the route so this is something to consider before heading onto the route.
What sections are there?
Portpatrick to Castle Kennedy - 13.5 miles (21.5 km)
Castle Kennedy to Bargrennan - 26.5 miles (43 km)
Bargrennan to St John's Town of Dalry - 26 miles (42 km)
St John's Town of Dalry to Sanquhar - 26 miles (42 km)
Sanquhar to Wanlockhead - 8 miles (13 km)
Wanlockhead to Beattock - 20 miles (33 km)
Beattock to St Mary's Loch - 21 miles (34 km)
St Mary's Loch to Traquair - 12 miles (19 km)
Traquair to Lauder - 27 miles (44 km)
Lauder to Cockburnspath - 32 miles (53 km)
As you can see, the sections are fairly even in length, however there are some shorter sections which are good for families who might like to walk part of the route rather than all of it.
What is there to see and do as you walk along the Southern Upland Way?
Portpatrick to Castle Kennedy
Castle Kennedy to Bargrennan
Bargrennan to St John’s Town of Dalry
St John’s Town of Dalry to Sanquhar
Sanquhar to Wanlockhead
Wanlockhead to Beattock
Beattock to St Mary’s Loch
St Marys Loch to Traquair
Traquair to Lauder
Lauder to Cockburnspath
What should you be aware of before heading along the Southern Upland Way?