Southern Upland Way Introduction

Published 9 January 2012

Tales from the Southern Upland Way

Tell someone you’re going off to Scotland to do the Southern Upland Way and they’ll probably look at you rather blankly before starting to tell you about Great Aunt Mabel’s recent hip operation. Even in walking circles, it’s not exactly a well known trail.

To give you some idea of its popularity, the Southern Upland Way walker has a choice of just two guide books. In contrast, anyone opting to walk Wainwright’s Coast to Coast can take their pick of hundreds. Even the tiny walking route that is the Cumbria Way has three guide books, and, unlike the Southern Upland Way, neither of those two are official long distance walking routes, recognised and protected by law.

Opened in 1984, the Southern Upland Way is one of Scotland’s four long distance walking routes and the only official coast to coast path in Britain. Its 212 mile journey connects the tiny village of Portpatrick in the west with the equally tiny village of Cockburnspath in the east, taking the walker across the southern part of the country in order to get there.

It’s a challenging walk. There’s some very long stretches, and it is not always possible to get to accommodation in the evening without getting a lift. However as it passes through one of the least populated parts of the UK, it’s also ideal to do by staying in remote bothies or wild camping. And, as I fancied a walking challenge, that’s just what I decided to do.

Which is why, in June 2011, I found myself travelling to Scotland with a giant and rather heavy rucksack and a bright red tent. I had no plan, no itinerary. I just knew I needed to get from one side of the Scotland to the other. The Southern Upland Way had called me. And I was going to do it in style.

Next, I set off from Portpatrick on day 1 of the Southern Upland Way.

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