Southern Upland Way

Length: 340km (walked in the mid-1980s)

The Southern Upland Way was inaugurated in 1984. When I walked the route a year or two later, it was still squeaky-new, and logistics were very personal. There would be no more than a dozen through-walkers on any particular stretch. I recall wondering where I’d spend the next night as I wound down one afternoon by walking along the village street, when a car pulled up alongside me. The driver was the possessor of the only bed-and-breakfast room in the next 40km, so I booked my night there and then — it was her first visit to that town for many years, but a funeral is a funeral. At another village, sleeping arrangements were shuffled, and the dinner-table was extended, when I rang ahead the previous night.

Nowadays, the Way has full support, and there are many more walkers, but the countryside is as gloriously empty as ever, though some of the knee-high forestry will now be fully grown, changing the aspect. The long distances between villages and towns will make this a route for the fit or the facilitated, and even then, a support vehicle will clock up long distances.

Between the cliffs of the North Channel and the North Sea, the route crosses farmland to Bargrennan, and then crosses the wilds of Galloway. Beyond Sanquhar, Wanlockhead and the Lowther Hills lead to Annandale (with the little town of Moffat a useful point for refreshment and repair). Out of Annandale, the route crosses into the Borders, with much open land as far as Galashiels. It is mainly farmland to the coast, with some moorland and forestry thrown in for good measure.

There is an extensive website devoted to the path.

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