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Thread: Southern Upland Way

  1. #81
    ‹bermensch Nearly Normal Polar Bear's Avatar
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    Jo - just read the first part of your trip report and really looking forward to the rest. Good pics and terrific detail, well done.

    You mention that you'd fancy a coastal walk, I think the South West Coast Path could be well up your street.

  2. #82
    ‹bermensch "Cunning" Duncan's Avatar
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    Mutter mutter, another one I missed.

    Off to read the journal. This time last year, ah well.

  3. #83
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    The merks where just lying on the ground underneath the basket lid - but with all the hot dry weather the ground was pretty solid.

    The "ground" - as you call it - is the rotted remains of the basket! Some of the locations are obviously suffering and could do with repairs. I might never have found that kist if I hadn't been given a couple of clues by an American couple. (They were the McConvilles, who were walking from the Mediterranean to the west coast of Ireland!) Even when I found it, the very act of stopping walking and dipping my hand into the kist for my merk was enough for the midges to eat me half to death! It was my longest day's walk, from Bargrennan to St John's Town, and apart from that one brief stop, the midges kept me moving briskly!

  4. #84
    Ultra King MoS's Avatar
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    This was an interesting thread to look through prior to doing a stretch of the Southern (or should that be Squelchy?) Upland Way.

    I wanted to move on from doing overnighters and do my first 'proper' backpacking trip. I was drawn to the SUW because it was fairly easy to get to, a ready made route in an area new to me and likely to be quiet.

    I was looking for a section of about 50 miles which we could do over a long weekend. Moffat seemed like the obvious place to leave the car, choosing and getting to a starting point was more complicated. The route lengthened to 57 miles when I discovered that public transport was going to be awkward and the only realistic option was a combination of three buses that would get us to Dalry (our starting point), via Dumfries and Castle Douglas.

    We were wild camping so the long sections between accommodation weren't a problem. The scenery was superb. I loved the views over to Rhinns of Kells as we set off. The bits on tarmac were few and far between and didn't bother me as they were a welcome relief from the squelch and seemed to be over before they became a drag.

    We were lucky with the weather until our last day when it drizzled constantly and the trudge through muddy forest tracks started to get a bit wearisome. I can only see the funny side of mud for so long and as my legs grew more tired I felt less sure footed. Despite the treacherously slippy, wet, slimy, wooden bridges and stiles and steep, sodden grassy slopes, I didn't fall over once.

    Amazingly, Matt managed to fall over twice..... in the tent..... whilst kneeling down..'tis strange but true!

    The SUW is quiet isn't it!

    Over 4 days we only saw 5 other walkers and they were all in the vicinity of Wanlockhead on Sunday.

    I'd have liked longer to explore Wanlockhead - an old lead mining village. We stopped by the huge beam engine for lunch but the heavens opened, it was the first of several exciting hailstorms that followed us over Lowther Hill. But the sunshine kept breaking through, we saw lovely rainbows and each time the cloud lifted the views were brilliant.

    I thought that section (Dalry to Moffat) was superb. It was varied and mostly very scenic, quite breathtaking in places. I was surprised at what a big and mostly empty area the Southern Uplands is. But oh so wet underfoot. Don't know if it had been particularly wet up there of late. I quite liked the fact that the way is clear on the ground, well marked, but without being over engineered. It was much soggier than I expected though, I was very glad that my boots kept me dry.

    We split the days roughly like this - 9 on the first afternoon and then 16, 16 & 16. We wild camped 2 nights out of the 3 but found ourselves in Sanquhar on Saturday night so opted for B&B rather than trek another few miles in the dark to find a suitable spot.

    It was brilliant. I like this walking from a to b business - much better than going round in circles

  5. #85
    ‹bermensch That Blonde Woman.......'s Avatar
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    Thanks for that info MoS

    The issue of public transport is always a problem with linear routes and even when you have recognised routes like the SUW its always a lottery that you'll not miss a connection.

    LOL at Matt falling over

  6. #86
    Ultra King MoS's Avatar
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    We had a bit of hanging around at bus stops waiting for connections - half hour at one and an hour at the next, but I think I preferred that than shorter waits and the worry of missing one. If we'd ended up on a later bus we'd have been walking well into the evening and looking for our first pitch in the dark.

    So although it meant a slow start to our day, it was quite nice to view a bit of the countryside. Our final bus went around several tiny villages before finally ending up in Dalry. It was nice to see the driver dropping off folk with their shopping bags right at their front doors.

    Reminded me of how isolated we can get - all in our own cars doing our own little journeys.

  7. #87
    Ultra King MoS's Avatar
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    Anyone know anything about the arch on top of Ben Brack?

    I've tried googling but nothing comes up.

  8. #88
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    The Striding Arches project look here

  9. #89
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoS View Post
    Our final bus went around several tiny villages before finally ending up in Dalry. It was nice to see the driver dropping off folk with their shopping bags right at their front doors.
    Reminds me of a guy who asked a bus driver - "Is this the express bus?"

    The driver replied - "No, this is the bus that goes round by the houses, aye, and even stops for tea and biscuits at some of them!"

  10. #90
    Ultra King MoS's Avatar
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    Ah, Striding Arches, I saw a signpost which mentioned arch pointing off in a different direction but couldn't remember exactly what it said.

    Thanks for the link Graham

  11. #91
    Ultra King MoS's Avatar
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    lol, Paddy, there were no tea and biscuits that day but it wouldn't have surprised me.

    On two occasions, husbands were standing on the doorstep ready to help their wives off the bus with their messages. Lovely.

  12. #92
    Ultra King MoS's Avatar
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    "Crucial to Goldsworthy's selection of sites was his stipulation that no matter which arch you find yourself at, you should always be able to see the other two: the three arches are linked together by sightlines."

    That's rather weather dependent isn't it.

    We didn't spot the other two when we were up there last Saturday

    The one on Ben Brack just appeared through the low cloud as we approached the summit.

    Striding Arches

  13. #93


    I've been reading this forum with interest and have to chip in my two-pence worth and resurrect this thread.

    Been doing the SUW this year in chunks with my 10 year old daughter so that stuff about being extremely fit is nonsense- all you need is a tent, use bothies and I wouldn't take her out if the forecast was really bad.

    I'm just back from Dalry today which we've done in 3 2day walks. Camped once and stayed in bothies 2 nights.

    Of course it's not perfect but I love the fact it's quiet and you're rarely near a main road- unlike the WHW- which we did last year and loved.Doing it this way you really get to know your bus and train routes !

    New merks are installed and you can even find some of the old ones mixed in with them.

  14. #94


    I've walked stretches of the SUW and enjoyed them, but agree that, in places, the route misses out the best of the surrounding countrysided in favour of a road walk.

    Perfect example of this is on the Beattock - St Mary's Loch stretch. Between Overphawhope bothy and Scableuch, the SUW merely follows a road down the Ettrick Valley for about 6 miles rather than take you over the classic high-level Bodesbeck ridge which runs parallel.

    Despite this, however, I'm still willing to give the SUW a go, and I've got the full route on my to-do list for next year. Having walked the West Highland way three times, I feel almost obliged to try something different!

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