Answers to the Questions we are most commonly asked
1. How long will it take to walk the entire route?
There is no definitive answer to this. Walkers will normally take anything between 10 and 20 days. Much will depend on the experience and fitness of your party, the weather and of course, how many stops at the pub you incorporate into your itinerary! The best advise is to plan your trip well and give your self time to enjoy it!
2. When is the best time to walk The Southern Upland Way?
The best time is when you have the time and the weather is fine. The Southern Uplands are usually driest between April and June.
There can also be wonderful autumn spells of weather in September and October. Spring does not really get going here until the first week in May.
By the end of May everything should be in full leaf but the higher hills will not turn green until well into June.
3. Are midges a problem?
Midges are small biting insects similar to the ‘no-see-ums’ of North America and other places in the northern hemisphere. Individual bites are small and usually of little consequence (though some sensitive skin types may experience some local swelling). The trouble arises when they are out in great numbers and seem to get everywhere. They are most numerous in moist humid weather when there is no wind and the worst months are June, July and August. They are unwilling to fly at all in sunshine and even light breezes are enough to ground them. Do not worry too much. Conditions for them are rarely suitable on consecutive days because the weather is so changeable. Bring insect repellent with you, or consider an insect hood as the most effective means of protection, especially if you mean to camp.
4. How can I manage with a long stretch between two towns if I do not want to camp?
Many of the B&Bs and hotels now offer vehicle support service. This really is the best way to deal with the long stretches between Bargrennan and St John’s Town of Dalry, and onto Sanquhar.
Have a look at our the accommodation guide to see if there are any B&Bs slightly off the route that will enable you to break your journey, for example, there is one off route B&B between St John’s Town of Dalry and Sanquhar.
5. Can I wild camp along the Southern Upland Way?
Wild camping is covered by the Outdoor Access Code and as such is allowed along the entire Southern Upland Way. When wild camping you should follow the advice in the Outdoor Access Code, not camp near to buildings, in enclosed fields or near to livestock. Upon leaving the campsite you should clear up all litter and ensure that you leave no trace of your campsite. Due to the large amount of forestry in Southern Scotland open fires should not be lit without landowner’s prior consent.
6. Can I take my dog?
If dogs are taken they must be kept under close control at all times. It is especially unwise to take your dog anywhere near cows with young calves, whether it is on or off a lead. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code link on our home page will give you more detailed information. In addition please check go to the Staying Safe page, also on the home page.
7. Can we use mountain bikes?
Many sections of the Way are excellent for mountain biking with a wide range of tracks from forest roads to singletrack. However other areas are unsurfaced track over grassy hillsides. Due to the prevailing weather conditions in southern Scotland and the fact that much of the area is peat bog these areas often become so muddy that it is not possible to cycle them. This is very weather dependant so areas that might be easy to ride in the winter when the ground is frozen are impassable over the summer and autumn.
We are currently working on improving the Way for Cyclists and also producing a guide to riding the Southern Upland Way with advice on which areas can be ridden and alternative routes for areas that are impassable. For more information please contact one of the Rangers.
8. Can I do the Southern Upland Way on horseback?
Unfortunately the Southern Upland Way was designed as a footpath rather than a bridleway. The new access legislation in Scotland now makes it important to provide facilities for horse traffic. However, while we are trying to move towards the use of gates rather than stiles we have hardly begun on the replacement programme. In theory, north of the border, you ought to be able to ride more or less where you please. The practice will take a while to catch up with the theory. We are working on producing a guide to riding the Southern Upland Way with advice on alternative routes to get around the impassable sections. As soon as this is available it will be published on this website, in the mean time please contact one of the Rangers for advice.
There is a new horse riding route slightly off the Southern Upland Way that goes from Ae Village to Beattock that will eventually link up with the Scottish Borders to form the South of Scotland Countryside Trail www.southofscotlandcountrysidetrails.co.uk In the Scottish Borders there is a 57-mile Buccleuch Country Ride. More information from the British Horse Society Scotland firstname.lastname@example.org A leaflet entitles “Are you Riding Responsible?” is available at www.bhsscotland.org.uk