Walk the Southern Upland Way

Walking is a popular pastime in Scotland and a great way to enjoy the endless natural beauty of this picturesque part of the British Isles. Incorporating the Scottish Borders Sir Walter Scott Way, and stretching from Portpatrick in the west to Cockburnspath in the east, the coast-to-coast Southern Upland Way covers a distance of 212 miles, offering spectacular scenery and interesting landmarks all along the way.

Ancient glacial activity has left the Southern Uplands with a series of undulating hills and valleys, punctuated here and there with rocky outcrops. While summits remain below 3,000 feet, there are more than eighty hills rising above 2,000 feet high, offering spectacular views and a bit of a fitness challenge. The various habitat types covered by the route include the coastal cliffs at each end, where walkers will come across an abundance of butterflies attracted to delicate-looking, hardy Sea Pinks in the summer months. Inland terrain includes farmland, parkland and moors, as well as coniferous and broadleaved woodlands. Walkers will pass by ruined castles, ponds and lochs, make their way along ancient forest tracks and drove roads, and traverse the rolling hills.

Landmarks and attractions along the route include New Luce village; Sanquhar; St Mary’s Loch between Moffat and Selkirk; Traquair; the ruins of Castle Kennedy near the village of the same name; Bargrennan village by the River Cree; Lauder; and Longformacus. Walkers will also come across John Dippie’s Well near Watch Water, said to have the sweetest water in the Lammermuir Hills, apparently because the gamekeeper the well is named for added whisky to the water prior to offering it to thirsty shooting parties. The memorial stone at the well is said to have been a mark of appreciation by those who drank the whisky-laced well water.

While the Southern Upland Way has interesting features at any time of the year, between April and September the abundance of wildflowers and seeded grasses along the way attract a diverse range of butterflies and birds, adding to the spectacular and richly rewarding outdoors experience. Completing the entire walk takes between twelve and sixteen days and presents some challenging terrain, but walkers have the option of choosing parts of the walk more suited to their abilities and can arrange to be picked up and dropped off at various points. There are plenty of accommodation options along the way, and luggage transfer services can be arranged, leaving walkers unencumbered to enjoy nature at its very best.