Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Red Squirrel stronghold

As part of a nation-wide plan to help safeguard the country’s surviving Red Squirrel population, some of the Forestry Commission woodland in Galloway has been declared a Red Squirrel Stronghold site.

There are 18 sites across Scotland, each site being at least 2000 hectares in size. This will mean around 100,000 ha will be managed to maximise food supplies for Reds (from cone bearing conifers) and restricting food sources preferred by Greys (large seeded broadleaves.)

The population of Red Squirrels in Scotland now represents about 75% of the UK total.
For more information, visit

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tree cutting at Glentrool

We are currently harvesting in the Glentrool area and many of our walkers and bike trails are diverted from the visitor centre. This work will continue for a couple of weeks, as soon as the trails are back to normal ill let you know.

Please follow all diversion signs from the centre, these are put in place to keep you safe whilst we carry out our forestry work.

Bye for now

Monday, 16 November 2009

Galloway Forest Park's dark skies score UK first!

We've just been awarded Dark Sky Park status by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) - one of only a handful of such awards in the world! It confirms Galloway as being one of the best places for stargazing anywhere on the planet.

Limited numbers of buildings within the forest park's boundary mean light pollution can be kept to a minimum. The award has attracted a lot of media attention, with our own Keith Muir (head of Recreation and Tourism for FCS in Galloway) in demand from, among others, ITN, local radio and Radio 2's Jeremy Vine.

Work on achieving Dark Sky Park status began back in September 2008, and the formal application was submitted to the IDA six weeks ago. The final awards were decided at the Association's AGM in Phoenix, Arizona, over the weekend just past.

There's more details - and a map of suggested stargazing locations in the park - at

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Autumn Walks in the Galloway Forest Park

Despite the heavy rain and strong winds of recent days the trees are still managing to hang onto some of their golden leaves and the range of colours to be seen makes it well worth a walk around the Park.
Large numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares are also migrating from Scandanavia to spend the winter months in a warmer area. Look out for them in the Rowan trees as they stock up on the berries. If you are out at night and it is fairly clear, listen carefully for a high pitched whistle, the contact call made by migrating flocks of Redwings.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Autumn is here, enjoy!

What a pleasure it is to go exploring at the moment, the woods are full of colour! Remember we have 27 way marked trails here in the Galloway Forest Park, details of which can be found in our walk trail leaflet. If you would like a copy let us know or click on the walkers leaflet icon on our main Galloway Forest Park page

Don't forget to wrap up warm!


Friday, 16 October 2009

Trail closures

We will soon be upgrading two of our very short walkers trails, Bruce's Stone path at Glentrool and Bruce's Stone path at Clatteringshaws. I'm afraid this will mean that there wont be access to either of these paths whilst the work is being carried out.

The good news though is that it is likely to only take a couple of days at each site, keeping disruption to a minimum.

The work will be carried out during next week (w/b 19th Oct.) If you are visiting next week and want to check whether the path will be open or closed whilst you're here then please give us a call 01671 402 420.


Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Wrap up warm and enjoy the show!

If you haven't had a walk in the woods for a while then I can strongly advise one just now. I headed out to Barhil Woods in Kirkcudbright yesterday afternoon and walked the circular route from the car park. Crispy leaves that had fallen from the surrounding trees crunched under foot as I made my way along the trail.

Whilst the full throws of Autumn hasn't quite happened in this wood yet, the warm light from the late afternoon sun filters through the trees and provides anticipation and a subtle glimpse of great things to come.

It's a similar story for many of our other woods within the Galloway Forest Park, whilst many trees have started to show signs of transforming, we yet have to see their full Autumnal glory.

Silver birch started to turn back in September and so in some places throughout the park they are looking quite yellow. However, some of our bigger trees like the Oak and Beech are taking their time, some might argue mother nature is 'saving the best to last'!

Ill help you keep a track of what's happening out there this Autumn right here on our blog. I can't promise to update every day, that wouldn't be very helpful anyway, but I will try my best with a couple of entries a week.

I cant wait to get back out there to see how the Autumn colours are coming on. Now where did i leave my gloves?...


Monday, 28 September 2009

Archaeology event at Polmaddy

Steeped in history, Polmaddy made the perfect place for an Archaeology Training event on Friday and Saturday just gone. Attendees got introduced to some basic techniques used by Archaeologists when surveying a site, and then put those new skills to the test with some practical tasks out in the field.

The event was run by Scotland's Rural Past team as part of this years Homecoming. Many thanks to the SRP team for all their hard work over the two days.

Polmaddy is a great place to visit at any time of the year. There is interpretation on site which gives visitors a real insight in to how this old town would have looked all those years ago. So if you find yourself in that part of the forest park then pop in!


Pictures from the Polmaddy archaeology event

Images by and copyright Lucy Hadley.  Report to follow!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Seasons are fab!

Penninghame Pond which isnt far from Glentrool is a fantastic place to go for a short stroll or walk the dogs. Whilst I was there earlier today, in the rain, I noticed that the leaves on one of the silver birch trees had started to turn yellow. Then when I opened my eyes a bit more I noticed that all of the birch trees had started to take on a magical golden glow.

As the wind blew yellow heart shaped leaves along the path I zipped up my coat to keep out the chilly breeze. I then got quite excited realising that autumn is just around the corner, where woodlands are transformed into magical places of vibrant colours and lochs take on the appearence of mirrors reflecting the surrounding trees and stunning colours in all directions.

I love this time of the year and cant wait to get back out there.

If you like Autumn colours too keep an eye on our website where we will be listing all of the Forestry Commission Scotland woodlands that you can visit which have great Autumn colours.


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

First signs of Autumn in the Galloway Forest Park

Some say a heavy crop of autumn fruits is a sign of a bad winter to come, whilst others claim that a calm spring allowed the trees to flower successfully.

Whatever the cause, the Rowan berries we are seeing certainly make an impressive sight set against the blue skies we are enjoying at the moment.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

BBC visits the Galloway Forest Park

A BBC film crew recently visited the Galloway Forest Park to record a sequence for a forthcoming programme of "Country Tracks." Ellie Harrison (that is Ellie on the right hand side of the photograph) joined Forestry Commission Rangers to look at the Barn Owl Nest Box programme and helped to ring three healthy Barn Owl chicks. Country Tracks is shown on BBC 1 at 1100 on Sunday mornings.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Fox sightings

Those of you who travel through the Park on the "Hill Road" from Glentrool to Straiton may have seen this fox. This individual is fairly tame and does not appear to worry about cars driving past. He is distinctively marked, having particularly brown hindquarters and is often seen hunting mice in the roadside verges. As autumn advances and the grasses die down, chances of seeing him are even better.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Red Deer Range

One of our readers asked about opening hours for visiting the Red Deer Range. After today, 3rd Sept, there won't be access to the range until our Roaring Stags event, which takes place from the 4th - 9th October. You'll still be able to park at the range and go up to the fence to see if the deer are there though.

For details of the Roaring Stags event, contact Galloway District on 01671 402420 or email:

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Images from the Galloway Woodfair 2009

Some bright images from what was a fairly soggy day!

Images by and copyright Andrew Jarrot.

Butterfly pictures

Here are a few pictures of the butterflies referred to by Yogi in her 23rd August post.

Red Admiral


Red Admiral

Painted Lady

Monday, 31 August 2009

Home Tweet Home - Update

Our Swallows are doing brilliantly, I am pleased to report. There are four, and I was right, one is camera shy! Mum and Dad are working their socks off flying in with tasty morsels for them all to gobble up.

I should think the food will be plentyful as its been very damp and mild recently so lots of bugs flying about ready to be caught by a sharp flying Swallow!

The chicks seem to have put on some good weight and are sitting proudly in their nest. Their little tufts of head fluff sticking up make all of our visitors smile as they pass by to go in to the cafe for a cup of tea.

From Galloway Forest Park wildlife and landscape

We've been greatly enjoying being a distant part of this families life and fingers crossed all continues to go well. Wonder when they will think about flying lessons? They have still some growing to do yet but I hope we are around in the centre when they do take their first flight.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Kirroughtree visitor centre

Just to let you know that there are some minor diversions in place at Kirroughtree at the moment (starts tomorrow) on the 7stanes trails due to forest operations. The Papy Ha is closed for the duration of this work too.

If you would like more information about which routes are effected before you head down then feel free to give the visitor centre a call. Staff will be more than happy to suggest other walks and also update you on where the diversions are. 01671 402165.

Hope you have a good visit.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Home Tweet Home - Update

The Swallows at Glentrool are doing really well and on tuesday last week staff at the centre noticed 3 baby beaks popping out of the nest!!! Swallows lay between 3 and 7 eggs so there could be more young there that are a bit camera shy just now so watch this space!

Mum and dad are working very hard to keep them fed and clean and doing a fantastic job.


Butterfly clouds!

Yesterday was amazing, I headed up to Glentrool visitor centre (they do great tea and scones!) and because it was such a beautiful day I took my camera. I'm glad I did!

After calling in to see the nesting Swallows (more about them in the update) I headed up towards Bruces' Stone where I got distracted by butterflies. I parked at the car park near the old Caldons campsite and took a walk back along the road, everywhere I looked there were butterflies. Mostly Peacocks, Red Admirals and Painted Ladys. They were visiting all the wild flowers and then taking a rest on the bracken. When cars came down the road to the car park I watched heaps of butterflies take to the sky and then settle back down again on the flowers, it was really lovely.

So if you find yourself at the car park near the old (closed) Caldons Campsite/Southern Uplands Way at Glentrool then check out the flowers and on top of the bracken along the side road that leads to the car park. If the butterflies are all still there the sheer number of them will make you smile like it did me!

Until next time

Monday, 17 August 2009

River crossing in style!

You may have noticed that we have had a diversion on our yellow trail at Glentrool because of damaged bridges? Well we are almost there and soon will have a very smart looking bridge as their replacement. The guys are working really hard and so we hope to be able to have it open soon.

It is not in a condition to use now as it is not finished, so please continue to follow the diversions that are in place. As soon as it's finished I'll let you know, so keep an eye on the blog!!

There is a picture taken today of the new bridge being built and also a couple of other photos of Glentrool because it was looking so beautiful up there this afternoon!

Until next time

Home tweet home!

Glentrool is great for wildlife watching and now you can do it whilst having a cup of tea in the visitor centre!

These two Swallows have set up home just outside the centre, conveniently near to a video camera we set up earlier in the year which unfortunately didn't get used - well, it did, but as a prop to hold up the Swallows' first nest! So we didn't get any video images of that brood.

It wont be very long before they all have to fly hundreds of miles to their wintering grounds in South Africa. They usually head off in September/October so not long to go!

Keep checking the blog and we will keep you updated with their progress before they go.


Monday, 3 August 2009

Sealed Knot at Kirroughtree Visitor Centre

Turn back the clock a few hundred years and Kirroughtree would have looked very different... almost like it did at the weekend at our Sealed Knot event!

Our events area was transformed into a 17th Century encampment complete with traditional dress, games, food and music.

Over a hundred members from Sealed Knot came to Kirroughtree to bring history alive with guided walks, talks, their living history camp and of course the big battle on Sunday! It was a great weekend with lots of 'have a go' oppotunities for families to find out what life would have been like all those years ago.

Check out our slideshow below where you can see some of the pictures of Sealed Knot we took at the weekend.

A big thank you to all Sealed Knot members who were involved.

Until next time,

Unexpected visitor to the forest!

Gannet found in Kirroughtree forest

Last week we had a report from a member of the public that there was a big white bird on one of the trails at Kirroughtree, looking a little confused and maybe injured.

So we went to check it out....

Turns out it was a Gannet!!!

As the crow flies it's not that far from the sea to Kirroughtree and we think that the terrible winds of the night before had blown the Gannet off course and into the woods.

We checked to make sure he was ok and that he wasn't injured. He was just just tired and puzzled, and I'm not surprised! We took him not too far away to somewhere he would recognise, the sea, and released him. He sat on the rocks for a while, said goodbye (I'm sure he must have in a Gannet way) and then he was off.

Gannets are truly stunning birds and at their best when diving in to the sea for their tea, which I'm sure our Gannet is doing right now!


Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre

Exciting news from our staff at Clatteringshaws who have told me that they have just spotted a Great Spotted Woodpecker on the peanut feeders for the first time this season. I have heard its call close by recently but it hasnt been brave enough to come down to the feeders, until now! The feeders are just outside the tea room so if you find yourselves that way, call in and keep a watchful eye, you may see our feathered friend too!


Sunday, 19 July 2009

Summer is here!

When you are out and about in the Galloway Forest Park this summer remember to keep your eyes and ears open. There is an abundance of wildlife out there to enjoy watching.

Just today I was watching two young Wren families on a forest trail, chatting to and chasing one another through the trees. I also really enjoy seeing the Damselflies and Dragonflies at the moment too! If you find yourself at Kirroughtree during the next week or so look out for the common blue damselflies and Ringlet butterflies, there are quite a few about. The Golden Ringed Dragonflies pop up in a number of different locations. There are still one or two at the Otterpool and I spotted one at Kirroughtree today too.

I love this time of the year, the sounds of grasshoppers in the meadows, birds in the trees and the many different butterflies that are on the wing at the moment is great.

Take a walk in the woods, its fab!

until next time

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays to all those that have broken up from school for the summer! There are some great activities planned in the forest this year so make sure you check out our events guide to see if there is something you would like to come along too.

The baby deer at the Deer Range are getting bigger by the day! Come along and see them for yourself our guided walks are happening Sundays - Thursdays 11 - 12.30pm, have a look at our Red Deer Range page for more info.

I was at the Otterpool (off the Raiders Road forest drive) just the other day and the place was full of golden ringed dragonflies buzzing about which was great! Its such a nice spot for a picnic.

Have fun and we hope you have a great summer holiday!!

Bye for now

Monday, 22 June 2009

Galloway Red Deer Range

Just a quick post to let you know that our Red Deer Range is now open Tuesdays and Thursdays during June and we lead guided walks on these days at 11am - 12.30pm. In July we run the guided walks Sunday - Thursdays, same time, so there is even more opportunity to see these fantastic animals in their natural habitat! Costs and directions can be found in our events guide or call us on 01671 402420.

Quite a few of the female deer have given birth recently and so there are some very cute looking baby deers walking around at the moment! Some baby pictures will be posted on our slideshow shortly!


We are currently making some changes to our website and so there maybe some technical issues that come up during that process. We aim to get this done asap but please be patient with us!

Thats all for now

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Welcome to all

In the year of Homecoming and Astronomy your Forest Park is in the thick of it. Yogi and I will keep you up to date with all the developments and information on what is being seen and done around the Park. It's your Park so your comments are welcome!

When out and about look up down and all around, from the stars above to the badgers below there is plenty to see and do so come on in and enjoy!


Welcome to the Galloway blog

We've set this up to keep you up to speed on what's happening in and around Galloway Forest Park.

At the moment we're gearing up for Spring events and enjoying seeing the forest come to life after a cold winter.

It would be good to hear of what you've seen when out and about in the woods. I'll try to keep you updated with some of the great stuff I see when working in the forest - particularly the fantastic wildlife.

Yours, Yogi.