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Southern Upland Way

Southern Upland Way

An epic coast-to-coast hike along the undulating Southern Uplands of Scotland from Portpatrick to Cockburnspath.

12 to 15 nights
224 miles
Demanding to Strenuous

From £1235 per person

Discover the available tours

About this route

The Southern Upland Way is a coast to coast journey and Scotland’s longest Great Trail, making it an enticing challenge for veteran long-distance walkers. Setting off from the old harbour of Portpatrick on the west coast, the Southern Upland Way encounters a wide range of dramatic landscapes – conquering high moorlands, epic mountains, quiet forests, expansive lochs and remote valleys teeming with wildlife – as it journeys eastwards towards the village of Cockburnspath.

As well as the breath-taking scenery, this trail passes through several areas rich in archaeological and historical interest, and also visits a range of elegant towns with their own stories to tell. The Southern Uplands of Scotland are probably the least visited areas of Britain, yet arguably offer some of the best walking landscapes in the UK. Book your walking holiday on the Southern Upland Way today.

© Contours Walking Holidays Southern Upland Way map
224 miles (358 km)
25th March to 26th October

Holiday highlights

Watching rare birds of prey swooping through the skies from the many great vantage points along the route.

Searching for ‘kists’ – 13 individually-sculptured containers hidden along the trail – and collecting commemorative coins along the way.

Revelling in the amazing sense of achievement felt upon completing Scotland’s longest Great trail.

Available tours

CodeTourDurationDifficultyPrice per person
SUW1 From Portpatrick to Cockburnspath(T) 12 nights, 11 days walking Strenuous£1235
SUW2 From Portpatrick to Cockburnspath(T) 14 nights, 13 days walking Demanding / Strenuous£1440
SUW3 From Portpatrick to Cockburnspath(T) 15 nights, 14 days walking Demanding£1540

Southern Upland Way 12 nights, 11 days walking

£NNN per person
  • Itinerary
  • What's included?
  • Extra nights?
  • Tour facts
  • Route profile
  • Travel info
  • Weather

Travel to Portpatrick where your first night's accommodation has been booked

Day 1

Portpatrick to New Luce(T). 24 miles (38.5km)

Day 2

New Luce(T) to Bargrennan(L). 19 miles (30.5km)

Day 3

Bargrennan(L) to St John's Town of Dalry. 26 miles (41.5km)

Day 4

St John's Town of Dalry to Sanquhar. 26 miles (41.5km)

Day 5

Sanquhar to Overfingland(T). 13 miles (21km)

Day 6

Overfingland(T) to Moffat. 17 miles (27.5km)

Day 7

Moffat to Scabcleuch/Ettrick Water(T). 18 miles (28.5km)

Day 8

Scabcleuch/Ettrick Water(T) to Traquair/Innerleithen. 18.5 miles (29.5km)

Day 9

Traquair/Innerleithen to Lauder. 29 miles (46km)

Day 10

Lauder to Longformacus(T). 14.5 miles (23.5km)

Day 11

Longformacus(T) to Cockburnspath(T). 19 miles (30km)


Depart from Cockburnspath(T) after breakfast

Your Itinerary

This itinerary lists our preferred overnight stops for this tour. Sometimes there may be a shortage of available accommodation in a preferred location, in which case we will transfer you from the trail to your accommodation and back again at no extra charge. Overnight stops marked with a (T) will always require transfers as standard.

Overnight stops marked with an (L) have very limited accommodation, and therefore more often than not will also require a transfer, particularly on bank holidays and weekends. We will use non-transfer accommodation wherever possible.

The daily mileages quoted are average trail miles only and do not include the distance from the trail to your accommodation. We do not expect you to have to travel more than a mile from the trail to your accommodation; should your accommodation be further than this, transfers will be provided as standard.

Below are the additional costs that may apply depending on your requirements. Dog-friendly tours are subject to a Daily Dog Charge, which will be listed below if applicable. Our standard prices per person are based upon two people sharing a room; if you are on your own, or are part of a group but require a room of your own, then the Solo Traveller or Single Supplements apply respectively:

A note about transfers
Solo Traveller Supplement
£60.00 per person / per night
Single Supplement
£40.00 per person / per night

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

Extra night (Standard)
£55.00 per person / per night

What's included?

  • 12 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms (where available) in selected B&B’s, hotels, inns and guesthouses along the trail, or a short distance away via taxi provided at our expense.
  • Breakfast each day.
  • Door to door luggage transfer.
  • Maps with the route marked on and a guidebook or route notes describing the trail.
  • An information pack containing an itinerary, instructions on how to find your accommodation each night and a kit list.
  • Detailed travel instructions on how to get to the start of your holiday and back from the end of it.

Extra Nights & Rest Days

As Scotland’s longest Great Trail, the Southern Upland Way passes through plenty of towns and villages on its journey, each with their own individual charm and attractions. Extend your holiday by booking extra night stays at any of your overnight stops, and spend more time exploring each area to your heart’s content.

The Southern Upland Way sets off from the seaside town of Portpatrick, which is a good choice for an extra night’s stay if you wish to spend more time exploring the coast. This pretty town is filled with pastel-coloured houses set around a small bay fringed with cliffs, and boasts lovely views out to sea. As well as a variety of places to eat and shop, Portpatrick offers a number of attractions to keep visitors occupied, such as the magnificent ruins of Dunskey Castle perched on the cliffs, or the exotic displays of the Logan Botanic Gardens, to name but a few.

Another ideal location for a rest day is Sanquhar, a small village nestled among fantastic scenery. The main attraction here is the Tolbooth Museum, housed inside a handsome Georgian town house and filled with evidence of the village’s fascinating history. Sanquhar also claims to be home to the oldest post office in the world, which has been operating since 1712, while the high street also has plenty of other shops and eateries to peruse. Just outside of the village is the Crawick Multiverse, a land art project designed by world famous landscape artist Charles Jenks, which is worth visiting for those interested in unique architecture.

For somewhere a little livelier, you could consider the vibrant and bustling town of Moffat for an extra night’s stay. Nestled in the heart of Southern Scotland and well-placed as a base to explore the landscapes of Dumfries and Galloway - and the Scottish Borders - Moffat is a Conservation Area and a “Walkers are Welcome” town, meaning it comes fully equipped for the needs of its visitors. Attractions of particular interest around Moffat include the Moffat Musuem, the architecture of the town centre, the local nature reserves, a historic golf course and a range of specialty shops and award-winning restaurants to enjoy.

Lauder is another good option for a rest day location, with plenty of attractions to keep visitors entertained. Lauder’s Town Trail will help you learn all about the town’s local history, appealing to keen historians and town explorers alike. On the edge of town is Thirlestane Castle - one of the seven Great Houses in Scotland - as well as the remains of the House of the Holy Trinity, which was founded in 1160 and was one of the most important institutions in medieval Scotland. In addition to all of this, Lauder boasts a range of places to eat and shop, as well as an art gallery and golf course, offering something for everyone to enjoy.

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

Extra night (Standard)
£55.00 per person / per night

Tour Facts

Total distance: 224 miles (358 km)
Duration: 12 nights, 11 days walking
Minimum daily distance: 13 miles (21 km)
Maximum daily distance: 29 miles (46 km)
Code: SUW1 Grade: Strenuous
Season: 25th March - 26th October
Start of holiday: Portpatrick
End of holiday: Cockburnspath(T)

Route Profile

Southern Upland Way Route Profile

Travel Information

Useful information and travel links that will assist you in your plans to travel to the start of the holiday and back from the end of it are sent to you with your full tour pack. A summary is given below:

By Air - The most convenient airports are Glasgow Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport and Edinburgh Airport.

By Rail - The nearest train station to the start of the trail (Portpatrick) is at Stranraer (approximately 7 miles). The nearest station to the end of the walk (Cockburnspath) is at Dunbar, about 9 miles away - it will depend upon where your accommodation is as to the best travel options.

By Bus - Buses run from Stranraer to Portpatrick. There is a fairly infrequent bus service from Cockburnspath to Dunbar, Monday to Saturday only, so a taxi will be required on Sundays and some other times. Various bus services run from Dunbar.

From London - Trains run from London Euston to Stranraer.

Return To The Start - To return to the start of the trail you will need to take the train from Dunbar to to Stranraer (or from Cockburnsbath catch a bus to either Berwick-upon-Tweed or Edinburgh to take the train to Stranraer). A bus/taxi will then be required to Portpatrick. Please note this is a very long & somewhat impractical journey by public transport.

Weather Information

To find out more about the weather forecast for your chosen holiday's general location, please see the following websites:

  • MetCheck - This website allows you to look up detailed weather information for specific locations as far as six months in advance.
  • Met Office - This website shows regional area forecasts a few days in advance, with a general UK forecast description of up to 30 days in advance.
  • Mountain Forecast - This website shows what the forecast is like up on specific hills and fells, and offers forecasts a few days in advance.

Customer reviews from the Southern Upland Way

“Everything went smoothly - thank you for making a complicated trip so easy. Overall, it was a really nice mix of different accommodations. Most were really friendly and helpful. Taxi drivers were great at telling us about the area. I would recommend Contours.”
Dr Hollingshead, Canada
“In short words? It was great! You guys did a really good job! I felt 100% safe and well with you.”
Ms Rudnicki, Switzerland
“Great countryside, saw no other walkers doing the Southern Upland Way. Everyone we met was friendly, food good. Will continue with the route when have time! Given the short notice, well-sorted for us. Great trail. And the organisation worked well.”
Mr O’Donald, UK
“The autumn colours were great and the weather basically held, the clocks had not gone back and the distances were perfectly manageable in the light.”
Mr Mason, UK