The Southern Upland Way is a Long Distance Trail of 214 miles and about 27000ft, crossing southern Scotland form Portpatrick to Cockburnspath (or vice-versa). The route is well way-marked and most of it is okay for riding, some sections of hike-a-bike, and the western and far eastern sections go through quite a lot of pasture land. The SUW is well worth doing, it has to be worked at for sure, but it does yield some very good riding through a mixture of wilderness mountain terrain, rolling hills, river valleys and forest. The main issues which other would-be riders should be prepared for is the long sections between re-supply points, some of which are very slow going. If possible try to do it after a good dry spell and with a good weather forecast ahead, as it goes over wet ground and much of it is exposed, so pack accordingly and do some research or ideally some reccies. Finally the number of stiles and kissing gates can make it burden-some to keep lifting the laden bikes over – so please be prepared for this additional effort.
The SUW is seldom done end-to-end unlike other LDTs, and some sections can get a little over-grown. The rewards of doing an iconic C2C are well worth it though!
It is also quite helpful to know that there are train stations at Stranraer and Dunbar, both about 8 miles from start / finish points.
There is no entry fee, no support, and no prizes. It is a self-timed Individual Time Trial (ITT) that can be challenged at any time. All that is provided is the inspiration, the official National Trail website and a list of completion times shown below. The route is established, mapped and well marked – and needs more transits! Also there are a number of bothy’s enroute.
July 2018 – Garrogill (nr Moffat), there is now an alternative route that takes higher ground to Croft Head. For bikes this would not really be suitable as it involves Hike-a-Bike and a very steep (almost unrideable descent), so it is recommended to stick to the existing forest trail route for any C2C crossings.
The SUW Facebook page is a good source of recent information.
- Complete the entire route, under your own power – no drafting
- Be completely self-supported throughout the ride – absolutely no support crews, absolutely no gear sharing
- Only use commercial services that are available to all challengers – no private resupply, no private lodging
- If you have to leave the route, you must rejoin it at the exactly same spot
- No caches of any kind
- No third-party sag-wagon offering an easy bail-out option
- No pre-arranged support, which means before you begin your ride – e.g. booking a B&B
- No travel by any motorized means during your ride – by all means do so if necessary, but understand if you do your attempt is over
- Gear – nothing required, nothing prohibited
West to East
|Alex Pilkington||38 Hours 34 minutes||14-07-2018|
East to West
|Alex Pilkington||32 Hours 14 minutes – not a full completion – last 40 miles where on NCN roads due to a mechanical||05-05-2017|
If you have completed a sub-96 hour self-supported ride of the Southern Upland Way, and wish to have your name added to the ride completions register, please send GPS track logged data (e.g. Strava Activity) to this email. Or if you know of anyone else who has completed it, please send details.
Get planning your ride!