Galloway Forest Park
Galloway Forest Park
The Galloway Forest Park is a huge area of relatively unspoilt countryside taking in parts of Strathclyde and Dumfries and Galloway, operated by the Forestry Commission Scotland. The countryside is a mix of Southern Uplands scenery, with wooded mountains, hills, lochs and streams.

Deer, goats, otters, wild cats and other wildlife inhabit the forested areas. Almost any imaginable outdoor activity is catered for, including climbing, walking, fishing, camping and swimming. A red deer park and wild goat park are contained within the Forest Park. There is a special viewing platform where you can spot native red black grouse.

Dark Sky Park

The park has been dubbed 'Dark Sky Park'; the very first of its kind in Europe. The vast area of uninhabited land means that there are no lights from settlements, making the park a perfect place to for stargazing without the need for a telescope. It is estimated that over 7000 stars can be seen from within the park. If you'd like to delve deeper into the experience of stargazing, visit the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory at Craigengillan, near Dalmellington, on the edge of the park.

The park covers a huge area of roughly 300 square miles, containing over 250 lochs and over 1 million trees. The trees are a major source of income, and over 500,000 tons of timber are harvested every year. One outcome of all the forestry activity is that there are a large number of forest roads and tracks now set aside for activities.

There are visiting centres at Glen Trool, Clatteringshaws, and Kirroughtree. The main centre is Kirroughtree, near Newton Stewart. Here you will find a wildlife hide, adventure play park, orienteering course, and cycling trails.

History in the Park

The Glen Trool centre is a place to enjoy history; look for Bruce's Stone, looking towards the site of the Battle of Glen Trool in 1307, where a Scottish force under Robert Bruce defeated an English force commanded by Aymer de Valence. A reminder of more recent historic events is the Covenanters Memorial, commemorating local Covenanters who died for their religious beliefs during the religious upheavals of the 17th century. Mountain bikers will enjoy the 7stanes trails, with options for novice and experienced riders.

The Clatteringshaws visitor centre is home to another Bruce's Stone and a good place to enjoy bird-watching. This is one of the best places in the park to enjoy stargazing as well, so plan to come on a cloudless night!