Overview for Southern Upland Way West
The Southern Upland Way is Scotland’s first and only official coast to coast long distance footpath. It runs 212 miles (340 km) from Portpatrick on the south west coast of Scotland to Cockburnspath on the eastern seaboard. Opened in 1984, it offers superb and varied walking country, still undiscovered by many walkers outside of the UK.
Thru hiking the complete Way may provide a challenge for the less experienced walkers and takes 16 days to complete, that is why we are also offering as separate itineraries the East and the West sections of the Southern Upland Way, suitable if you are less ambitious or if you do not have 16 days to spare.
The Southern Upland Way West from Portpatrick to Moffat takes 10 days (9 overnights) to complete.
Itinerary for Southern Upland Way WestGo to top of page
Day 1: Arrive Portpatrick
Today you arrive in the town of Portpatrick on the south west coast of Scotland. It is easily reachable from Glasgow by bus or train (4-5 hours).
Day 2: Portpatrick to Castle Kennedy
This is a fairly easy warm-up walk on clifftops and beaches, then across farmland and heather moors. From Portaptrick the route moves along the coast where you can enjoy stunning views out onto the North Channel, views of Knock Bay and stunning coastal cliffs to the north. At Black Head the route turns inland towards the outskirts of Stranraer and towards Castle Kennedy.
Walking for the day: 13.5 miles (22.5 km), highest point: 156 m
Day 3: Castle Kennedy to New Luce
This section includes some gentle walking, mainly in forest. The Way now starts to climb into less populated areas and passes through forestry as well as open moorland.
Walking for the day: 9 miles (14.5 km), highest point: 200 m
Day 4: New Luce to Bargrennan
The route takes you on tracks and paths across open moorland, past the waterfall at Barnshangan and Laggangarn Stones before entering plantation woodland for much of its length.Please note that whilst most of the Way is fairly easily followed in this section, the last few miles into Bargrennan cross open moorland with few markers except field-walls and waymarks.
Walking for the day: 17.5 miles (28.5 km), highest point: 250 m
Day 5: Bargrennan to Craigenbay
Walk into the mountains around Glen Trool. The route starts off along the bank of the River Cree and follows the river system up the Minnoch and the Trool until it reaches Loch Trool. From here the path heads up onto the hills offering some of the best views of the Southern Uplands that you will get. Transfer to Dalry for an overnight stop as there is no appropriate accommodation at Craigenbay.
Walking for the day: 17.5 miles (28 km), highest point: 320 m
Day 6: Craigenbay to Stroanpatrick
More fine walking in forest and on the open hill, through the pretty village of Dalry – transfer to Dalry for an overnight stop.
Walking for the day: 15.5 miles (25 km), highest point: 400 m
Day 7: Stroanpatrick to Sanquhar
This section includes a demanding ascent to 580 metres (1,900 feet), mainly on the open hill, winding up towards the summit of Benbrack Hill. This will reward you with an amazing 360 degree panorama of the Galloway Hills. The way passes Andy Goldsworthys Striding arches before descending into the woodlands down to the Chalk Memorial Bothy at Polskeoch. From here the Way heads back up into the hills and down into the Nith Valley and the town of Sanquhar. The historic town of Sanquhar has many places of interest including Sanquhar Castle, the town’s historic walk, the Tolbooth Museum and the oldest Post Office in the world.
Walking for the day: 18 miles (29 km), highest point: 580 m
Day 8: Sanquhar to Wanlockhead
Today there is a steady uphill walk to the highest village in Scotland. From Sanquhar the Way winds up through farmland, passing the Black Loch and then a strenuous climb onto the hills. Dipping slightly down to Cogshead, a perfect spot to stop for lunch you will then ascend back onto the tops before go. This is a short and relatively easy section of the route that experienced walkers should be able to complete in half a day. This gives you time to look around the village of Wanlockhead with it’s museum of lead mining.
Walking for the day: 8 miles (13 km), highest point: 480 m
Day 9: Wanlockhead to Beattock/Moffat
This is one of the most demanding sections of the Way including Lowther Hill, the highest point on the whole walk, at 726 metres (2,400 feet). Leaving Wanlockhead it is a steep climb up to the summit of Lowther Hill, with its giant golf ball radar station. This is the highest point on the Southern Upland Way and offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. From here the route hops from hilltop to hilltop before it descends and crosses the Dalveen Pass. It then skirts around Daer reservoir before heading into Ae Forest and passing the Brattleburn Bothy. Upon leaving the forestry the Way joins a quiet road and descends steeply into Beattock.
Walking for the day: 20 miles (32 km), highest point: 726 m
Day 10: Departure
Departure by bus or train to Edinburgh (1.5 hours) or on to Glasgow. Additional nights at the end of the walk can be arranged.
Hotels for Southern Upland Way WestGo to top of page
Nice hotels and B&Bs, all offering comfortable en-suite double or twin rooms. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.
Note that hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel from the ones pictured above is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Each hotel and B&B has been hand-picked to ensure you enjoy the most welcoming, comfortable and value-for-money experience on this route. A warm welcome awaits all walkers and hikers, with hotel owners keen to hear stories of the day’s adventures. Evening meals and packed lunches for the onward journey are available throughout, however, please note that they are NOT included in the holiday package. Breakfasts are included each day.
Travel for Southern Upland Way WestGo to top of page
- To Glasgow – There are excellent air, train and bus services, allowing easy access from anywhere in the UK and overseas.
- To Portpatrick – There is a bus line from Glasgow to Portpatrick (4 h) or you can take the train (5 h).
- From Moffat – By bus to Edinburgh; journey takes 2 h (and on to Glasgow if required).
Another great website useful specifically for public transport planning within Scotland is Traveline Scotland.
Connecting transfers by public transport (train or bus) are recommended for this trip, as they are much cheaper compared to private car transfers.
Each walker will be allowed one bag, of up to 20 kg in weight, which will be transferred between accommodations.
Scotland: Country Info
Some funny but useful travel advice on Scotland is available here 🙂
Trip Info for Southern Upland Way WestGo to top of page
Difficulty Grade: Moderate
Although daily elevation gains are not very big, you should be prepared to walk on average 12.4 miles (20 km) or 6-7 hours per day. Some days will be more challenging than others and the terrain will be varied with some rough and rugged footpaths (read more about difficulty grades).
The route is generally well signposted throughout, however, walkers must be vigilant at all times as there are paths and junctions along the way which deviate from the main route and sometimes the trail is obscure. As well as the Guidebook, your package includes detailed map of the full route. We highly recommend that at least one member of your party is a competent map and compass reader. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to Go
This trip is available to commence every day from 01 April till 30 September.
What to Bring
We recommend that you travel as light as possible – airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers, the place might be limited. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing not more than 20 kg (to be checked in) and a daily pack (15 – 20 l rucksack) for your everyday essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack. If you need further advice, please contact a reputable outdoor retailer or us.
- Good hiking boots
- Hiking socks
- Several t-shirts (preferably breathable/fast drying)
- Packable waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
- Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
- Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside accommodation
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
- Hat/Baseball cap
- Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)
Included for Southern Upland Way WestGo to top of page
- Pre-booked accommodation as per the itinerary on 9 nights in B&B’s, small hotels and guesthouses
- 9 Breakfasts
- Door-to-door luggage transfers on all walking days
- Transfers from Southern Upland Way to accommodation and return, as indicated on itinerary
- Maps & Guidebooks (one set per booking)
- Info on transport and local services
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office / representative
Options and Extras
- Single-room supplement (this applies to members of a group who require single-room accommodation)
- Solo traveller supplement (includes single room accommodation)
- Extra nights along the route or in Glasgow or Edinburgh
Please click the CHECK AVAILABILITY button above to see the price of the holiday and the different options, extras and supplements for your desired dates.
- Airfare and connecting land transfers to start and end point
- Lunches, dinners, drinks & snacks
- Travel insurance
- Personal expenses such as phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Entry fees (payable on site)
- Any items not specifically mentioned in the programme above as “Included”