Walking

    THE SOUTHERN UPLAND WAY - Scotland's Coast to Coast footpath

    wfh-walkers-200.jpgThe Southern Upland Way traverses most of the major habitat types represented in southern Scotland. In the west, near Portpatrick, the route heads along the coastal cliffs before turning inland, Thereafter it passes through farmland, parkland, broad-leaved and coniferous woodland, as well as open moorland. It skirts ponds and lochs, weaves along small upland burns, follows forest tracks and ancient drove roads, passes ruined castles and crosses over exposed hill summits. Eventually the North Sea is reached near Cockburnspath and once again coastal wildlife is evident.

    Though the winter months need not be neglected the best time of year on the Way is usually between April and September. May and June are particularly good because spring flowers are at their best and birds are displaying and singing.

    The Southern Upland Way is Britain’s first official coast to coast long distance footpath. It runs 212 miles (340 kms) from Portpatrick on the south-west coast of Scotland to Cockburnspath on the eastern seaboard. It offers superb and varied walking country, still undiscovered by many enthusiasts.

    The Way provides a real challenge for the experienced walker, yet some of the shorter stretches are suitable for families and the less ambitious. No cycles or horses please, except on public bridleways. We strongly advise that dogs are not taken on the route as much of it is through areas of livestock. However, if dogs are taken they must be kept under strict control at all times.


    THE LOW GROUND

    At each end of the Way there are short sections of the path along the cliff tops. Here, there are masses of Sea Pinks and other flowers in the summer months attracting a greater range of butterflies than elsewhere on the route. Out at sea the most conspicuous large seabirds are the Gannets, those in the west nesting on Ailsa Craig (and Scar Rocks, Luce Bay) and those in the east on the Bass Rock.

    THE UPLANDS

    Man in the Uplands The open moorland sections owe their present appearance to man’s activities: forest clearance and the introduction of cattle and sheep grazing. The grouse moors in the Lowthers and Lammermuirs are managed intensively to create the ideal habitat for Red Grouse which are shot on 12 August and the following weeks. By careful burning of small patches of heather, a mosaic type habitat is created, offering nutritious young shoots for the birds to feed on and larger plants for birds to find shelter and nest in.

    The Forests

    Much of the landscape adjacent to the Way is continually changing. Where the route passes through coniferous forest, improvements are being made by opening up viewpoints and modifying the forest edges. When the mature trees are harvested, new planting schemes will be designed with the walker in mind, offering a greater variety of tree species and more open space and here and there. Where possible, small ponds may be created.

    The conifers have their own specialist types of wildlife. Look out for Siskins and Common Crossbills feeding on the seeds in the cones. Barn Owls hunt some of the open areas in late evening and Short-eared Owls breed in the younger plantations and open moorland, usually flying about during the day.

    Farming & Wildlife

    Sheep on the Hills ore predominantly Scottish Blackface or Cheviots but other breeds and cross- bred sheep may be seen here and there along the Way. Look out far the Belted Galloway an uncommon distinctive local breed of cattle, kept for its beef and dairy value. The more numerous black or dun-coloured Galloway Cattle are a different breed reared exclusively for beef production.

    Early in the year Ravens build large stick nests either on precipitous cliff faces or in tall isolated trees.

    From late March to April the first Wheatears arrive in the hills after spending the winter in Africa. They are easily recognised by their conspicuous white rumps as they flit from boulder to boulder or perch upon the dykes (dry stone walls).

    WAYMARKS, OFFICIAL GUIDE & MAPS

    The Southern Upland Way is waymarked throughout its length, using this standard symbol.

    The Official Guide book by Roger Smith comes complete with its own 1:50,000 OS route maps and the new Cicerone Guide are available from Southernuplandwayholidays.com , 26 Main Street, St.Johns Town of Dalry, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway DG7 3UW. Tel: 01644 430 015. The guides provide illustrated descriptions of the route with detailed information on the historical, cultural, archaeological and wildlife interest along the way.

    GOING ALL THE WAY?

    The Southern Upland Way includes some very long and demanding stretches - walkers tackling the route in one expedition must be very fit and experienced hill walkers. Contact Southernuplandwayholidays.com for help and assistance in organising your walk.

    You must be well equipped and prepared for emergencies.

    Strong walking boots, waterproof and windproof clothing are essential. Although the route is waymarked, you must be able to navigate with map and compass when visibility is bad.

    The time taken will vary according to individual fitness and weather conditions, but walkers should allow between 12 and 20 days.

    The Southern Upland Way works across the grain of the country rather than following valleys and lines of least resistance so, although there are many miles of level walking, there are also many miles up and down hill - be prepared.

    PLANNING SHORTER WALKS

    In the official guide, the Way is divided into 15 manageable sections, each of which is described in detail. It is therefore possible to plan a walk which is within your capabilities. Advice and assistance is available from Southernuplandwayholidays.com who are specialists in walking packages for the SUW and southern Scotland.

    TRANSPORT

    There are railway stations at Stranraer on the west coast, at Kirkconnel and Sanquhar, at Dunbar, north of Cockburnspath, and at Berwick upon Tweed, south of Cockburnspath.

    The Way crosses or passes close to a number of bus routes, but services can be infrequent - check timetables in advance at tourist information centres. A guide to public transport services across the Southern Upland Way is available from:

    Southernuplandwayholidays.com , 26 Main Street, St.Johns Town of Dalry, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway DG7 3UW. Tel: 01644 430 015.

    ACCOMMODATION

    Walkers are strongly advised to seek and plan their accommodation in advance, as places to stay are very sparse on some stretches of the Way. A free up-to-date accommodation leaflet which lists camping sites, bothies, B & Bs and hotels which lie on or near the Way is available from: Southernuplandwayholidays.com , 26 Main Street, St.Johns Town of Dalry, Castle Douglas, Dumfries and Galloway DG7 3UW. Tel: 01644 430 015, Dumfries and Galloway Tourist Board, Scottish Borders Tourist Board, local tourist information centres and Scottish Borders Council Ranger Service.

    INFORMATION CENTRE & SHELTERS

    The company behind Southernuplandway.com and Southernuplandwayholidays.com have recently opened the first dedicated Visitor Information Centre on the SUW at St.Johns Town of Dalry. Open throughout the year, walkers can get advice and assistance for accommodation, vehicle support and luggage transfer. Maps and guides are on sale and visitors can also get Broadband access in the Internet Cafe area.

    The Infromation Shelters are located at: Portpatrick, Castle Kennedy, New Luce, Bargrennan, Caldons (Loch Trool), St John’s Town of Dalry, Sanquhar, Wanlockhead, Beattock, St Mary’s Loch, Traquair, Yair, Galashiels, Melrose, Lauder, Longformacus, Abbey St. Bathans, Pease Dean and Cockburnspath.located at: Portpatrick, Castle Kennedy, New Luce, Bargrennan, Caldons (Loch Trool), St Town of Dairy, Sanquhar, Wanlockhead, Beattock, St Mary’s Loch, Traquair, Yair, Galashiels, Melrose, Lauder, Longformacus, Abbey St. Bathans, Pease Dean and Cockburnspath.

    RANGER SERVICES

    Countryside rangers operate along the whole Way. For specific information and advice or if you encounter any problems on a particular section of the route please contact the relevant ranger service (for the Lanarkshire section contact Dumfries) For more general information and leaflets please contact the Scottish Borders Council Ranger Service.

    Countryside Ranger Service, Dumfries and Galloway Council, English Street, DUMFRIES DG1 2DD tel. 01387 260000 direct line 01387 260184 fax 01387 260149

    Ranger Service, Scottish Borders Council, Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre, Ancrum, JEDBURGH TD8 6UQ tel. 01835 830281 fax 01835 830717

    Other Useful Addresses:

    Visit Scotland Dumfries and Galloway, 64 Whitesands, DUMFRIES DG1 2RS tel. 01387 245550

    Visit Scotland Scottish Borders, Hawick, Tower Mill, Hawick TD9 0AE. Tel: 01835 863170

    Internet Sites: Information about the Way can be found on the following websites:




    Countryside rangers operate along the whole Way. For specific information and advice or if you encounter any problems on a particular section of the route please contact the relevant ranger service (for the Lanarkshire section contact Dumfries) For more general information and leaflets please contact the Scottish Borders Council Ranger Service.

    Countryside Ranger Service, Dumfries and Galloway Council, English Street, DUMFRIES DG1 2DD tel. 01387 260000 direct line 01387 260184 fax 260149

    Ranger Service, Scottish Borders Council, Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre, by Ancrum, JEDBURGH TD8 6UQ tel. 01835 830281 fax 01835 830 717

    Other Useful Addresses:

    Dumfries and Galloway Tourist Board, 64 Whitesands, DUMFRIES DG1 2RS tel. 01387 245550

    Scottish Borders Tourist Board, Tourist Information Centre, Murray’s Green, JEDBURGH TD8 6BT tel. 01835 863435 or 863688, fax 01835 864099.

    Internet Sites: Information about the Way can be found on the following websites: