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What’s Inside?

The Stars of The Forest Raptor ID Guide Galloway’s Self-Taught Genius Scotland’s Year of Young People Our Wildlife Priorities & more!

Welcome 2018

Contents 2



The man behind the monument


Welcome to The Forest


In Focus: Barn Owls


Raptor Identification

10/11 Forest Park map


Forest Apprentices


The Young Person’s Guide to The Forest!


Fishing in the Forest Park


Getting started in biking


Galloway Forest Park 2017 Events


Our Priorities


Forest Fun

Photography: Front cover - John McFarlane, Mick Durham, Gordon Rae, Peter Devlin, Kenny McGuckin, Alan Peebles, Isobel Cameron, Shutterstock Design & production by: Findlay Design Editorial by: Indigo Words


The Galloway Ranger

marks the ten year anniversary of the Galloway Ranger. The past decade has seen a lot of changes affecting Galloway Forest Park. In 2009 we became the UK’s first Dark Sky Park, in 2012 UNESCO designated Galloway and Southern Ayrshire as a Biosphere Reserve and a year later we completed a major investment in our visitor centres, improving visitor facilities and access across Galloway Forest Park. Throughout this decade of change the one constant has been the dedication and the passion of the people who work in Galloway Forest Park. We were delighted to welcome a TV crew into the heart of our forest last year and encourage our team to step in front of the camera to explain what they do. The resulting programme, The Forest, was broadcast on BBC Scotland earlier this year and it shows the very best of our forest – the people who work here. We are particularly pleased to introduce you to a few of them in the pages of this year’s Ranger.

Useful contact details

Galloway Forest Park Visitor Centres Kirroughtree – 01671 402994 Clatteringshaws – 01644 420221 Glentrool – 01671 840745 Forest Enterprise Scotland Galloway Forest Park Office, Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire DG8 6AJ Tel: 0300 067 6800 Police Non-emergency – 101 Emergency – 999 (For Mountain Rescue dial 999 and ask for Police) Galloway Mountain Rescue - Detailed mountain weather forecast for Galloway available online at NHS 24 – 111 VisitScotland Information Centres Dumfries – 01387 253862 Gretna – 01461 335208 Kirkcudbright – 01557 330494 Stranraer – 01776 702595 Other Information Point Gatehouse-of-Fleet – 01557 814099 Moffat – 01683 221210 Vets Newton Stewart: Creebridge Veterinary Centre – 01671 402247 Whithorn: The Priory Veterinary Centre – 01988 500356 Castle Douglas: Dunmuir Veterinary Group – 01556 502400 Castle Douglas: Stewartry Veterinary Centre – 01556 502263 Kirkcudbright: Galloway Vet Group – 01557 330632

to the Galloway Ranger 2018 is also Scotland’s Year of Young People so it’s been an ideal opportunity to ask a few of our younger forest visitors what they most enjoy about Galloway Forest Park. Their suggestions are included in our Young Person’s Guide to the Forest on page 14. Whatever age you are and whatever adventures you enjoy in the great outdoors, we hope you find this year’s Galloway Ranger both informative and inspiring. There’s a guide to the incredible raptors that you might spot in Galloway, the story behind one of Galloway Forest Park’s most iconic structures and we’ll introduce you to the three priority species we focus on protecting. Welcome to the forest – it’s yours to enjoy. If you use twitter, why not tweet us the story of your #GreatDaysOut – we’d love to hear about your perfect days in the Galloway Forest Park! Follow us on @gallowayforest

Stay safe on the hills There is a wide variety of walking and cycling available in the Galloway Hills. Here are a few safety pointers to keep in mind.

Plan Ahead – Choose a route that is appropriate for the group’s fitness level and experience. Weather – The weather in the Galloway Hills can change rapidly, always check a detailed forecast before setting out. Clothing and Footwear – Conditions at the summits can be very different from those at the base, so warm, windproof, waterproof clothing is essential. Equipment – A map and compass are essential, and it’s vital that you know how to use them. Food and Drink – Take plenty of supplies for the group, and extra emergency rations. Route Notification – Leave a note of your proposed route with your host and an estimate of the time you expect to return, and use the Galloway Mountain Rescue online route notification service. On Your Walk – If you get lost don’t panic. If conditions allow try to seek a landmark which you can identify on the map. If not, and you have shelter and warm clothing, then stay in your position until help arrives. For more information, take a look at the Galloway Mountain Rescue website,

The man behind the monument By Jack Hunter


urray’s Monument on the Queen’s Way (A712) between Newton Stewart and New Galloway is arguably better known than the man it commemorates. A shepherd’s son from the herd’s cottage at nearby Dunkitterick, Alexander Murray, born in 1775, became the greatest linguist in Britain and possibly Europe. Yet to reach this eminence he had to overcome several formidable obstacles. He had very poor health and his eyesight was so defective that when he was put to herding he could not even find the cattle, never mind the sheep. At lonely Dunkitterick in the heart of the moors he lacked the stimulus of social contact - the area was even more remote than it seems today, with only smugglers as occasional passers by. The isolation of his home, his poor health and his father’s financial circumstances meant that up until the age of eighteen the boy had a total of only 57 weeks of formal schooling. Other than being taught the letters of the alphabet by his father, Murray was almost totally self educated. The schoolmaster at Minnigaff, where he received most of his scanty formal schooling, allowed him to pick and mix the classes he wished to attend and so liberated his intellect and imagination. The boy’s thirst for books could be met only by borrowing, begging or (rarely) purchasing secondhand from an amazing variety of sources: a Glentrool farmer, a Palnure lead miner, a second cousin, local aristocrat Lord Daer who lost his map while surveying the road. Since he read whatever was available it was largely a matter of chance that languages became his passion. Yet two of these formidable obstacles provided vital compensations. If his eyesight and health had

been better he would have had to follow his father and brothers in the family tradition of herding. And if his formal schooling had been less fragmentary he would have had to pursue the usual rigid curriculum. Nevertheless the obstacles confronting young Murray were daunting and that is what makes his achievements so astonishing. When he was interviewed for a place at Edinburgh University this self-taught teenager had a thorough knowledge of French, Latin, German and Hebrew, together with some knowledge of Arabic, Abyssinian, Anglo-Saxon and Welsh. While following an arts and then a divinity course he added to his repertoire all the remaining European languages, plus a clutch of Eastern tongues including Sanskrit, Persian and some Chinese. Reassuringly there were limits to the talents of the former herd boy. As a young man he was encouraged by friends to publish some poetry he had written. He went to Dumfries and sought the opinion of Robert Burns, then resident in that town. The great man tactfully gave the eighteenth century equivalent of today’s cliché; stick to the day job. Wisely Murray did so and went on to his greatest achievement. Murray was interested not only in individual languages but in the similarities and features shared by groups of languages. He came to the conclusion that almost all European and many Near East languages are descended from a common ancestor called Indo-European, of which no examples now exist. This discovery, the most important in the history of European language study, is conventionally credited to two German academics whose work was published in 1816. However four years earlier Murray had completed a two-volume treatise, History of the European Languages, which stated

the Indo-European theory at length and with abundant evidence. Unfortunately at the time Murray was also preparing the first series of his professorial lectures and the publication of the book had to wait. The author died the following year and his crowning achievement was not published till 1821. As a result he has never been given the recognition he deserves. Interestingly it was another seeming disadvantage which led Murray to his great discovery; because he had not possessed text books his language studies were based on materials of all kinds, written in the language he was studying, so his concentration was on vocabulary. It is the vocabulary of languages - not the grammar or syntax - that reveals their similarities, and so once again in Murray’s life a drawback had turned into an asset. The former redundant herd had progressed up the academic ladder to the pinnacle of a professorial chair, but his time there was brutally short. The ill health which had shadowed his whole life developed into tuberculosis and he became seriously ill during his first academic term, succumbing to pneumonia in 1813. He is buried in Greyfriars churchyard in the heart of Edinburgh beneath a pillar of Dalbeattie granite. As you pass his monument on the Queen’s Way and the partly restored family cottage, remember his astonishing achievements against the odds and ponder what further academic heights the 37 year old might have scaled had fate granted him a longer term. Jack Hunter’s book, Alexander Murray: Galloway’s Self-Taught Genius is published by Stranraer and District Local History Trust and is available to buy at Galloway Forest Park Visitor Centres for £4.

The Galloway Ranger


Welcome to The Forest W

e might be biased, but here at The Galloway Ranger we’ve always thought our forest park had a touch of star quality about it. So we were delighted to welcome the crew of Tern TV to our forest for five months last year, to share our work and our passions and to showcase our beautiful Galloway Forest Park. The Forest was screened on BBC Scotland during January and February and the response to the programme has been phenomenal. The Forest is produced and directed by local lad Jack Warrender who grew up in Barr in South Ayrshire and is known for having worked on Hollywood movies including The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Captain America and Gravity. He said filming the series had opened his eyes to the full glory of the area, and commented: “It was a dream job to make a programme that films exactly where I grew up. With a lot of programmes it can be very difficult to get people onside or enthusiastic about something. I would say with The Forest it was a resounding success because everybody was helpful.” Executive producer Harry Bell agreed, saying: “As always, the biggest challenge is getting people who have never been filmed before to, first, trust our


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team and relax into their day-to-day lives, behaving as if the camera isn’t there. “The Forestry Commission were absolutely amazing to work with. They gave us access to all areas and helped us to film in some really tough and dangerous places. We filmed them blowing up a new quarry to supply rocks for access roads and using hightech explosives, this was dramatic and a visual highlight.” He added: “We wanted to cover the variety of life – both wildlife and human – who work, live and play in this unique part of Scotland. We discovered a truly wonderful and little-known corner of Scotland which is proud of its rich forest heritage. Given the immense size and importance of this ‘factory’ to the Scottish economy, it’s amazing how many people we met, who enjoy the forest throughout the year, but aren’t really aware that it’s a working forest.” Producer director Emma Fentiman who previously worked on a similar programme called The River, immersed herself in Galloway life for most of last year. She said that Galloway Forest Park was the obvious location for a show focussing on Scotland’s forests, commenting: “For us as well as finding a location we needed to

know that there were the people there who can pique viewer’s interests and sustain a programme. Galloway Forest Park was the obvious choice because it’s the biggest. After we had made initial contact with the Commission we knew we had the characters; everyone was really welcoming and happy for us to take over for five months. “We had a team of three people on location – myself, Jack and an assistant producer called Ruth. The three of us moved to Castle Douglas from March till September – moving to the place you’re filming in is a great way of getting to know a community and getting people to trust you, because you become part of that community.” While Galloway Forest Park is the star of the show, for Emma it’s the people who really bring it to life. “Cool was one of the people we met when we were making the pilot two years ago and we knew we needed him in the show, he’s a real stand out character. Other people we met during the filming, for example we bumped into Lyndy in the offices and realised she was doing something a bit different. She was interested in the people who use the forest and the fact that it’s a forest for the people of Scotland, not just a business. She was so passionate

and it was great to see her fighting for the communities she works with. “We also met a lady called Steffi who is a horse logger – she cuts the trees and extracts the wood from the forest using horses. It was lovely to see these amazing massive horses looking so at home in the forest and it was great to see a woman working in the forest. She’s doing it one by one, a tree at a time, and I think people will be really surprised that these traditional methods are still being used, it’s not all about machines. “What surprised me was just how open the forest park is to everybody. I think because it’s a working forest my expectation had been that it was a business first rather than a place to enjoy, but it’s there for everyone and it’s so beautiful! It’s so unusual a landscape, it’s not like anything I’d ever seen before and so many people don’t know about it. “For us it was a dream of a place to work because everyone was so welcoming. It’s a tough thing to ask to come into people’s workplace and home and to stick a camera in their face, but everyone welcomed us with open arms and was so enthusiastic about the filming and makes it a joy to work on. It comes across that people were really proud of what they were doing and proud of the area.”

Fairy Knowe

Archie McNeillie

In the first episode of The Forest Archie’s team is tasked with rebuilding steps on a well-worn pathway at Fairy Knowe. Trouble is the path is up a 330 foot hill and the steps are made of heavy boulders of Galloway granite! Each boulder weighed around 20 kilos and with 260 steps to replace, up a 1 in 10 slope, it was heavy work. The team constructed a table train and a motorised winch to drag the boulders up the hill. Each step was laid by hand and it took the team three weeks to complete the work. Archie commented: “This was a path that the community and Forest Enterprise Scotland had identified as needing upgraded for safety reasons. We looked at the various options, and in particular what would make it permanent, for a long time. You can’t get much more permanent than granite and since we had some granite boulders left over from another construction project it seemed the ideal solution. The community is happy because they wanted something in keeping with the site, as natural as possible, so the granite has been the right approach, it looks good and it’s going to be a solid safe footing for years to come.”

Mountain Bothies

Archie McNeillie - Recreation Forester

“I’ve been with the Forestry Commission for 44 years. Where I grew up you had three choices for jobs, you either dug coal, you went onto a farm or you went into forestry. Forestry was the right choice for me, I left school on the Friday and I was planting trees on the Monday morning! “I manage all recreation and facilities within Galloway Forest Park – everything except for the visitor centres. So that includes path building, erecting bridges and general maintenance throughout the park, right through to helping to organise car rallies, mountain bike races and enduro events. “Taking part in the filming was easier than I expected because you got to know the team and just got on with it. Everybody was a wee bit careful for the first week but after that there was no shyness and we just got used to there being a camera following you about.”

Fairy Knowe

Mountain Bothies

There are four mountain bothies in Galloway Forest Park, two of them are managed by the Mountain Bothies Association and they’re maintained by volunteers. Bothies are basic shelters, usually left unlocked, available for anyone in need of shelter to use free of charge but with limited facilities. Last year White Laggan was in need of some attention and the volunteers were installing a new wood burning stove. The recreation team helped the volunteers with getting building materials and the stove itself up to the remote bothy. Archie said: “The bothies are used continually throughout the year by a broad mix of people, so you can imagine with so many people going in there in the dead of winter in all weathers, they do get run down and tired. The Association volunteers are great at maintaining the bothies and we’ll help them where we can by taking equipment onto the sites.”

The Galloway Ranger


Gareth Ventress - Environment Forester

“Being filmed is not my favourite pastime but we wanted to show the wildlife and conservation side of forestry to try to get across what we do, so it was a great opportunity to show that side of forestry. It did capture a truthful representation of what I do day to day, but obviously they filmed some of the better parts of my job – they didn’t capture the paperwork! “I spent about four or five days with the camera people, and they followed me doing a mix of different types of work, for example checking pine marten boxes to make sure there weren’t any breeding pine martens before the team could go ahead with a nearby quarry blast. “It was good to show the breadth of activities that are carried out to manage the forest. Galloway Forest Park is multi purpose forestry, it’s not just timber harvesting. There’s a lot of work that goes into restoring semi natural habitat, protecting wildlife and creating recreation in the forest, so I think the programme has shown that.”

Bracken Rolling

Bracken control is part of the management of ancient woodlands. By suppressing the growth of bracken it encourages natural tree regeneration, with the forest naturally sustaining itself with a mix of trees of different ages. In the programme a horse is shown rolling the bracken with a log. Bracken rolling is done over four years. The first roll gets rid of high dead bracken layer, which opens up the ground for natural regeneration. Second and subsequent rolling

bruises the bracken and gradually thins it out which gives the natural ground flora a chance to grow. Gareth said: “Bracken control is sometimes done using chemicals but in this instance we wanted to protect the ancient natural seed bed, so we chose the horse rather than a more industrial approach. This particular patch of bracken was so big that when we walked through the site originally it was about six feet tall, so there was no chance of trees or native woodland naturally seeding there because the bracken blocks out the light. The bracken will always be there, but controlling it opens the woodland up again, giving native flora the opportunity to grow.”

Lyndy Renwick - Community Liaison Forester

“I work with the communities that surround Galloway Forest District. People living in the area want to work with us because the forests and woodlands can really help communities on a number of fronts. This could be through holding events and activities, getting involved in managing land or buildings, developing renewable energy projects, establishing community woodlands, fishing, volunteering projects and even big scale landscape partnership projects. “I fundamentally believe that the forests belong to all the people of Scotland and I love working with people and making change happen. Each day can bring different challenges all in the pursuit of making the forests relevant in people’s lives.

“For example, I meet up with community representatives to discuss their plans and help make them more achievable by making them bite-sized and phased. I’m also the first point of call for community asset transfers - the process where communities can purchase land from us. I also work with community groups who have invested in windfarms and those who want to invest in the National Forest Estate to bring tourism in and keep their community going.”

Huts in a Harvesting Site

The penultimate episode saw Lyndy visit the site of two fishing huts that had been erected without permission or consultation. The big concern was that the huts were located in a live harvesting site. Lyndy left notices on the huts for the people who used them, and negotiated a solution that saw one of the huts receiving a stay of execution. Lyndy said: “When harvesting machines are in here it can be pretty dangerous. There are signs all over the place to state that it’s a live harvesting site, but they obviously ignored that. Because they offered to remove one of the huts they made a reasonable concession, so the newer hut can stay for now, but the likelihood is we will have to ask them to remove it at a later period. It is a working forest, and I know it’s for growing trees, but there’s enough space here. My job is to work with communities, people and groups so that they can get the best out of the land too because the forest belongs to the people of Scotland.”

Gareth Ventress

John Coughtrie (Cool) & Archie McNeillie

Lyndy Renwick


Steffi Schaffler & Tiny

The Galloway Ranger

Kenny McGuckin

In Focus: Barn Owls T

om Greenaway is a member of the Dumfries & Galloway Raptor Study Group, a network of raptor experts who monitor raptors across the region, recording the status, distribution and breeding success of each species. The work is undertaken on a voluntary basis and the group has amassed a wealth of information that is vital for understanding changes in population trends and for informing local, regional and national conservation plans and policies... I am a registered BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) bird ringer and ring many species, but the main focus of my year is always barn owls. Barn owls are a schedule one bird which means the birds, their nests, eggs and young are fully protected at all times throughout the UK. They are a rather difficult species to count accurately. They feed almost exclusively on field voles and mice and in the UK the breeding cycle of small mammals, particularly field voles, fluctuates cyclically with peak densities every 3 - 4 years. This influences the breeding success of the barn owls with highest broods recorded in times of maximum food supply. Barn owls are fascinating birds. At close quarters the plumage of the barn owl is incredibly beautiful and it has always had an association with humans. This, combined with the benefits it offers to foresters and farmers through control of small mammal numbers, must make it my favourite bird. I moved to Galloway around forty years ago and for most of my life I have had an active involvement with Scottish wildlife and wildlife management. In the early 90s I became interested in the species when I became aware of the difficulties barn owls

were facing, changing agricultural land use and heavy reafforestation in particular were affecting their nesting sites and habitat. I became involved in a nest box erection programme and I’ve been working with barn owls ever since. Over the years mankind has taken for granted so

Barn Owl Fact File Barn owls feed at dawn and dusk as well as during the night.

They are very quiet birds, if you hear a ‘twittwoo’ sound in Galloway it will most likely be a tawny owl.

Barn owls like open countryside that includes a mixture of grasslands, hedgerows, field margins and edge of woodland. Scotland is the most northerly limit for barn owls, but Galloway favours them because of our mild climate. Barn owls have a large wing in relation to their body weight, which makes them susceptible to high winds.

Raptors don’t carry excess weight, so if food supplies drop they can struggle very quickly.

With having no natural camouflage barn owls spend a long time in the nest site fledging, up to around 60 days.

many of our wildlife species giving little consideration to their long term well being. By monitoring species, as we do in the Raptor Study Group, we can assess their numbers and their requirements. Research has highlighted that changes in land use, in both forestry and agriculture, have been detrimental to the species. Modern farm buildings and the intensive use of land reduces potential food supply and nesting locations which has reduced barn owl numbers substantially. A major survey in 1984 showed a substantial fall in numbers of breeding barn owls, however this has been arrested. Numbers have stabilised and in recent years have seen a very gradual increase, helped by the erection of timber nest boxes on the outside of farm buildings and on adjacent trees. The Raptor Study Group has around 500 nest box sites across Galloway, and most are monitored each year. In the last few years we have ringed around 550 chicks in our best year, and as low as 170 chicks in a bad year. Forest Enterprise Scotland help fund a proportion of the boxes, both by supplying boxes and monitoring them, and have had a very substantial share of the project since it began in the mid 80s. Forest Enterprise Scotland’s ever increasing commitment to wildlife is a credit to the organisation and can only benefit Galloway. Barn owls like open spaces so they’re most likely to be spotted around the edges of woodland. If you spot a nesting box and want to watch the owls come and go on an evening, sit a couple of hundred yards back from the box and remain quiet. Remember it is an offence to touch or disturb a barn owl nesting box. Barn owls are a protected species and anyone wishing to work with them should join a local bird ringing club to obtain the necessary skills and licences required.

The Galloway Ranger


Barn Owl - FCS, Goshawk by Gordon Rae, all other images by Mick Durham

Raptor Identification Red Kite

The reintroduction of red kites to Galloway has been a huge success and these beautiful birds are now a fairly common sight, particularly near Clatteringshaws, Raider’s Road and Loch Ken. Red kites are easy to identify by their reddish brown body, long forked tail and circling flying pattern. They are often seen in flight above open country, gliding effortlessly on the wind. Natural scavengers, they eat mainly carrion, such as roadkill and worms, but they are opportunistic birds and will occasionally take small mammals too. To get up close to red kites, visit the feeding station at Bellymack Farm near Laurieston where you can experience the spectacle of a ‘kettle’ of kites, with 50 or more kites gathering to feed each afternoon from 2pm, or explore the Red Kite Trail.

Peregrine Falcon

The fastest animal on the planet, the peregrine falcon can exceed speeds of 200mph, although they

don’t often reach such speeds in Galloway. These powerful predators have a stocky, slate coloured body, and the female is considerably larger than the male. Peregrines are generally bigger and far bulkier than kestrels, they have broader wings and a much stubbier tail. They famously have a black moustache marking on their face, a white patch under the chin and they often look like the shape of an anchor in flight. Their main prey consists of birds, but they will also sometimes take small mammals. You’re probably most likely to spot these birds in the wide open spaces within Galloway Forest Park.


The goshawk has a fierce expression with bright orange eyes and a distinctive white eyebrow. They have broad, short wings and a shorter tail than a sparrowhawk, and females can reach a size comparable to that of a buzzard. Its broad wings and long tail enable it to hunt at high speed,

Red Kite weaving in and out of trees, and its long powerful legs and talons can catch its prey in flight. The goshawk builds large nests high in trees and their flight is a distinctive series of quick flaps followed by a short glide. Goshawks can be very secretive birds, so your best bet for spotting them is to listen to the alarm calls of other birds and then look for a flash of grey.


You’re most likely to see kestrels towards the north of Galloway Forest Park on the edges with farmland. They have long, pointed wings and a long tail. Kestrels are famous for their ability to hover and they fan out their long tails to act as a balance while they do so, flapping their wings very quickly to stay airborne. Male kestrels have grey blue heads and tails with light brown backs and breasts. Female kestrels are noticeably larger than the males, and are chestnut in colour with black mottles. The tail is brown with black bars in females, and has a black tip with a narrow white rim in both sexes.

Peregrine Falcon

Goshawk 8

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Kestrel (male)

Barn Owl Barn Owl

With its heart-shaped face, dark eyes and pure white undercarriage, the barn owl is a distinctive bird that can be seen across Galloway. Barn owls are most often spotted at dawn and dusk, and because they’re usually seen from below they can look completely white, when in fact their back is golden buff in colour.

Tawny Owl

Our biggest resident owl with its large round head, big black eyes and chunky reddish brown dappled body is another distinctive bird. Most often heard rather than seen due to its nocturnal habits and tendency to stick to the woodland, they can be heard throughout the forest as males huhuhuhoo to the female keewik throughout the autumn and winter.

Golden Eagle

This is an enormous bird of which there are a few in Galloway. There’s no mistaking this bird, it’s noticeably larger than any other raptor in the area

Tawny Owl

Kestrel (female)

Merlin (male)

Osprey and even when spotted at a distance, its bold features, 7ft wingspan and massive size make it relatively easy to identify. Golden eagles are very long lived, between 20-30 years, and they mate for life once they reach maturity. They’ll fly with their wings in a v-shape and those huge, powerful wings have long fingers to them. At low altitudes their flight can seem laboured, with long, slow wing beats until they gather momentum or hit the hot air column. Their feathers are a dark brown, becoming a golden brown hue on their heads, from which they take their name.


A pair of these magnificent birds settled in the Galloway Forest Park on an artificial nesting platform in 2009, and while breeding success has been patchy, population numbers have continued to grow. Osprey are a spectacular fish eating bird of prey with a distinctive black and white appearance and characteristic flight. The best place to look for osprey is always around feeding locations rather than near nesting sites. As osprey are fish eaters

you will most likely find them near to watercourses, such as lochs and rivers, and a good place to seek them is Clatteringshaws or Loch Ken.


The UK’s smallest falcon, the merlin is not much bigger than a thrush. As with the other primarily bird eaters like goshawk and peregrine, the merlin displays significant sexual dimorphism with males being smaller and also a beautiful steel blue with a buff orange underside, as opposed to the larger females mottled brown back and breast. These small, fast, agile hunters are found on the woodland fringes and open moorland throughout Galloway Forest Park with the Carrick Forest Drive offering a good opportunity to see one in action, chasing meadow pipits in aerial combat across the moor. Please note: many of these birds are protected species, for which it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb at, on or near an active nest.

Merlin (female)

Golden Eagle The Galloway Ranger


Galloway Forest Park



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Alan Peebles

Forest Apprentices L

L-R, Henry Graham, Simon Hodge, Prof Wayne Powell, Emma Staniforth, Fergus Ewing, Sallie Bailey, Gordon Hill, and Prof. Dave Roberts

ast winter Forest Enterprise Scotland launched a brand new Modern Apprentice programme based in the south of Scotland to encourage more people to consider a career in forestry. They were inundated with applications and as the Galloway Ranger goes to press the team are busy reading through all of the 350 applications received. From those applicants, eight people will be selected to begin a structured programme of learning which will equip them with skills including tree planting, felling and organising community recreation events. Based in the south of Scotland, the successful apprentices will receive on the job experience and training with a Forest Enterprise Scotland team, backed with further skills provided by SRUC’s Barony campus. It’s hoped Forest Enterprise Scotland’s new modern apprenticeship, delivered in partnership with the land-based college sector, will build on its previous successes and act as a catalyst for other forestry related businesses to consider the modern apprenticeship programme as a way to introduce much needed new talent to the forest industry and rural sector. The new apprentice scheme was launched with the help of Emma Staniforth, who was crowned overall Learner of the Year, as well as the Trees and Timber Learner of the Year at the Lantra Scotland awards. Emma, who had no practical experience of forestry before joining Forest Enterprise Scotland in August 2014, said: “This is a super way to get hands on training in real life situations, learning from people who are right there with you doing the job. They are sharing their experience with you and teach you the best way to complete a job. All the training and tickets you receive and the opportunity to work across various departments before committing to an actual role is great.” The new apprentices begin their training in spring 2018 and we wish them all well!

Where are they now?

Regular readers of Galloway Ranger might remember that a few years ago we spoke to two former apprentices as they were completing their


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training. We caught up with them recently to find out what they’re doing now, and how their modern apprentice training has helped.

Matt Lingard

“It’s been two years since I finished my apprenticeship, and I finished it slightly earlier than expected after landing a job as a Forest Craftsperson in Torlundy, near Fort William in the Highlands with the Forest Enterprise Scotland. This job is exactly what the apprenticeship was geared towards so from my point of view taking part in a forestry apprenticeship is what has got me my dream job. “Being an apprentice in Galloway Forest District was a brilliant experience, both working with such a knowledgeable crowd of people and carrying out day to day tasks in such a beautiful landscape. I applied to the scheme because I wanted to work with trees and I enjoyed the outdoors. I had been at college part time studying countryside management and I had actually done a project on Galloway Forest Park as part of that college course, so when I saw the apprenticeship opportunity I jumped at it. “In my job now we do everything you can imagine, and more besides that. So my job includes fencing, path work, bridge building, felling, clearing wind blow, scrub clearance, planting and loads of odd jobs; from high pruning trees to spraying. It’s a bit of anything and everything so every day is different, which is one of the things I enjoy. Matt Lingard

“For example, like this morning. I started with a jobs list of fairly routine things but because there was a storm last night we’ve had a lot of calls so you just need to go and sort things out. This morning we were clearing wind blown trees and sorting out gates that had fallen off their hinges, but really it could be anything, including rescuing members of the public whose cars have become stuck. “The longer I’m in the industry the more I realise that the thing that matters most is just doing the job and getting as much experience as possible. That’s why apprentice schemes are such good training for this type of work. The job is so varied that it’s difficult to get that breadth of experience without going through a training programme like this. “Without a doubt I got this job because of my apprenticeship. It gave me industry recognised tickets, I already had a few from my college course, but the apprentice scheme gave me a lot more. Tickets are for things like using chainsaws, wood chippers and diggers; brush cutting and dealing with livestock. “Even though I’m doing the job now, the learning and the training doesn’t stop. Recently I’ve been offered career development helping to manage the firewood stocks for Lochaber, from people wanting to purchase a few tonnes to lorry loads. So that’s giving me experience at a more managerial level dealing with the commercial side of forestry. “My advice to the new apprentices starting out this year is to consolidate your craft as much as possible; really get as much experience as you can during the apprentice scheme and if you see something you want to specialise in then go for it. This is a great industry to work in and we need lots of young people to come into the forestry sector, so for anyone who likes working outside in beautiful landscapes, it’s the perfect job.”

Sam Fletcher

“I left Galloway two years ago and I’ve been working as a Forest Craftsperson in North Yorkshire ever since. “If you’re outdoor orientated this is a great job, and it’s a lot more than just cutting down and planting trees. I originally trained in commercial law but after doing a placement and finishing university I realised I needed to find something I could be passionate about, a legal career just wasn’t for me.

Forestry is completely different and I’m really happy going to work every day. “I applied for the forestry apprenticeship after shadowing a ranger in the Midlands on a voluntary placement scheme. I then did a diploma in countryside management and the logical step from that was an apprenticeship. When I applied I didn’t specify Galloway because I really didn’t know much about it; Galloway’s a bit of a hidden gem. Looking back now I’m so lucky to have done my apprenticeship in Galloway – there is nowhere better to train. “The thing that makes Galloway different is the sheer scale of it. It’s a huge district with a huge output, so the range of experiences you get there is just so much bigger and broader than any other forest district in the UK. The harvesting operations in Galloway are massive compared to the harvesting here, which is a significantly smaller operation. “Looking back and knowing what other apprentices did in other forest districts, what we did in Galloway was just brilliant. It’s a full-on place to work and it’s widely said that if you can work in Galloway you can work anywhere, so to do that as an apprentice meant it was the perfect launchpad. “A lot of that comes down to the people we were learning from. The foresters in Galloway were very influential, making sure we had the best experience we could have, it would be difficult to think of a better place to learn the forestry trade. “The thing I most enjoy about my job now is being a chainsaw operator - looking back to when I first started training I didn’t consider myself practical, but now it’s my passion. What I like about it is that working a chainsaw is a craft, you’re building on your knowledge and techniques all the time, you never stop learning with it. You think Sam Fletcher

Fishing Permits may be obtained from any of the following outlets:

1. Ayr Road Garage, 7 Ayr Rd, Dalmellington Tel: 01292 550487

2. The Belted Galloway, Riverside view, Newton Stewart Tel 01671 403458 3. Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre Tel: 01644 420221

4. Galloway Angling Centre, 1 Queen St, Newton Stewart Tel: 01671 401333

5. Galloway Forest Park Office, Creebridge, Newton Stewart Tel: 0300 0676800

6. Gamesport of Ayr, 60 Sandgate, Ayr KA7 1BX Tel: 01292 263822 7. Glentrool Visitor Centre Tel: 01671 840302

8. Kirroughtree Visitor Centre Tel 01671 402165

9. The Roundhouse Cafe, Loch Doon, Dalmellington Tel 01292 550728

you’ve got it and then you learn another technique that makes you more and more efficient. It’s a craft in much the same way as joinery is, there are guys who’ve been doing this for 20 or 30 years, so I’ve still got a lot to learn, and I’m loving learning it. “The new intake of forestry apprentices to Galloway are going to have an amazing experience and they should grab the opportunity to learn from the foresters who’ve been doing it for forty years. A lot of these guys will probably be retiring soon, and in our industry it’s going to be difficult to replace forty years of knowledge any time soon, so if you’re going to learn off anyone, learn off these guys. Spend enough time with the foresters in Galloway, earn their trust and they’ll share a wealth of knowledge that will be invaluable.”

10. Straiton Stores, Straiton Tel: 01655 770208



BLACK LOCH (Fly preferred)








• Weekly permits to fish all lochs except

Loch Dee & Loch Bradan: £35 • Annual permit to fish all waters except Loch Dee & Loch Bradan: For coarse fishing – £50, for trout and coarse fishing – £75 • Conditions for fishing are printed on permits and can be supplied on request


• Trout: 15th March to 30th September. • • • •


Season ends early to conserve spawning fish Pike, Perch, Tench, Rudd: Open all year Loch Bradan is stocked with Brown Trout. The other trout lochs are wild Brown Trout Fishing is only allowed between 8am and 1 hour before sunset The use of barbless hooks for all coarse fish is encouraged

3 3
















• The use of live bait, prawns or shrimps is not permitted

• Annual permits are only available from

Galloway Forest Park Office, Creebridge, Newton Stewart. Please provide a passport sized colour photo and two separate forms of identity – e.g. driving licence/passport plus a recent utility bill with your address on

• Please remove all litter including line and bait • For Brown Trout a minimum landing size of 9 inches (23cm) is encouraged • A bag limit of 1 fish is encouraged • If you see pollution please contact SEPA Pollution Report Line: 0800 80 70 60

No natural minnow fishing on any Forestry waters. More details, fishing availability, and online booking can be found on the Fish Galloway website at

The Galloway Ranger





Experience Outdoor Adventures For adventure seekers try one of our two orienteering trails at Kirroughtree. There is a short route for younger adventurers and a longer route which is much more challenging. Or, for mountain biking enthusiasts try our 7stanes routes at Kirroughtree and Glentrool. If you’re not sure which trail is best for you then test out your riding skills in our very own skills area at Kirroughtree.

The Young Person’s Guide to The Forest! T his is Scotland’s Year of Young People, an opportunity for generations to come together to celebrate our nation’s young people. We know that Galloway Forest Park is used by people of all ages, but we think it’s a particularly special place for younger people to encounter and experience that natural world and to learn outdoor skills. We’ve pulled together these 10 family friendly suggestions for ways to enjoy Galloway Forest Park during 2018.

Tuck into a Family Picnic Pack a picnic and take your family out for a full day exploring the forest. There’s nothing nicer than an alfresco lunch in the woods on a sunny day. There are picnic benches around each of our three visitor centres if you want to stay close to a car park or loo, and there are benches and viewpoints on many of our walking trails. Collect a walking trail from one of our visitor centres and then choose the route that suits you.

Go Wildlife Watching If you love wildlife then Kirroughtree visitor centre is a must-visit. Head to the fully accessible wildlife hide and wait for some wildlife friends to arrive. The feeding station here regularly attracts red squirrels, woodpeckers, small mammals and sometimes even deer. Information panels will help you identify the many woodland birds that visit. The feeding station is so close to the hide that you won’t need binoculars, but it’s worth bringing a camera or smart phone to capture photos of the beautiful wildlife that pop by.

Uncover History For history buffs head to Glentrool and delve into the world of Robert the Bruce. In 1307, Robert the Bruce was in exile when news reached him that Edward I was dying. Seeing his chance to take control in Scotland, Bruce gathered his men and returned to Scotland. They were camped at the head of Loch Trool when Bruce heard an English patrol was searching for him. He and his men ambushed the English troops on an isolated rocky crag and, the story goes, rolled big boulders down the hill to crush them. Bruce’s Stone commemorates his victory.

Meet the Deer Take your family to meet Spike and the other deer that live at the Galloway Red Deer Range (A712). Around 60 red deer live here and whatever the weather you can watch them from the viewing area and the hide. Want to hand feed them? Join a ranger led tour and discover more about these fascinating animals. Meet the Deer events run regularly from April to September, check our website for details.


The Galloway Ranger

Watch the Universe Go on a tour of Galloway’s starry skies at a family friendly astronomy event led by our Dark Sky Rangers, held regularly from Autumn to Spring at Clatteringshaws and Kirroughtree visitor centres. Or enjoy your own private show. Galloway is one of the best places in Europe to see the Milky Way, and to spot falling stars during meteor showers, like the Perseids, which peak around August 12, and the Geminids, which peak on December 14. You’ll get great views of the night sky from any of our visitor centres, and in many other places around the forest park. Wrap up warm, pick your spot, let your eyes adjust to the darkness and enjoy the spectacle. Build a Den Join the forest staff and volunteers for an hour in the woods building your very own woodland shelter – you might even bag yourself a prize for the best shelter! Den building events take place regularly on Thursdays throughout the school summer holidays. Ask staff for details or visit our website for dates and times. Booking essential. Forage for Food Our natural landscape is filled with delicious flavours. If you know what you’re doing, and if you’re very careful, foraging can be a great way to get to know forest flora and fauna. In spring sniff out the scent of wild garlic for a burst of Scottish garlicky flavour. These glossy leaves grow in patches throughout Galloway and are delicious made into pesto. In autumn bramble picking is great fun for all ages, and you can use your fruity haul to make jam or an apple and bramble crumble. Important: always check with an adult before picking or eating any wild food. Capture the Colours Galloway Forest Park is especially colourful in spring when the natural world bursts into life. Visit a bluebell wood, like Cally Woods, in spring and be inspired by the rich carpet of blues surrounded by the bright spring greens. In autumn explore Glentrool or Knockman Woods and enjoy the display of gold and red canopies of leaves. Why not try to capture the forest colours in photography, or in a sketch or painting? Make a Splash! There is nothing quite like time spent splashing about in the water on a hot summer day! Paddle in the Otter Pool on the Raiders Road in summer and go wildlife spotting while you’re there. Look in shallow water and you might spot newt larvae and on sunny days watch the skies for golden ringed dragonflies.


Hire Price List Adult

@ 7STANES Kirroughtree

Half Day Full Day




(TREK 3700 disc brake, Orange Clockwork)

Full Suspension Come and have some fun at the largest bike hire fleet in Dumfries and Galloway.







(TREK Fuel EX)

Electric (TREK Powerfly)

Based on-site at the visitor centre at Kirroughtree 7stanes, we are a fully equipped bicycle shop, workshop and hire centre.


(Orange Five, Santa Cruz 5010 and Heckler)




We offer a full range of quality bikes for everyone, incl. mountain bikes, kids bikes, full suspension bikes and electric pedal assist bikes.

(Trek 3700, TREK MT60 or FROG 55 & trailers)

We stock a wide range of clothing and bike accessories, as well as a workshop staffed by Cytech qualified mechanics. Bikes from: TREK, Santa Cruz and Orange. All hire bikes come with a helmet, and prices start from £15 per person.

Multi and extended day prices also available

Half Day: Full Day:

10.45am-1.45pm or 2-5pm 10am-5pm

Book online for reduced rates at or call us to reserve your bikes:

t: 01671 401303 Book online and use this discount code:

Before You Bike! • Check the weather and dress for the conditions. Wear loose fitting clothes that will not get too heavy when wet, avoid jeans or denim. • Check your bike before you go - brakes, tyre pressure, seat height and oiled chain. • Pack your bag! Water, jacket, tyre levers, pump and spare inner tube, mini first aid kit and a fully charged mobile phone is also recommended.

Kirkcowan Cycles

Brand new town centre location! The service you’ll receive in our family run bike shop is second to none, we stock an extensive range of

• Parts • Accessories

• Clothing

• Bicycles for all ages

Our fully stocked workshop and excellent mechanic will help keep you rolling and we’re happy to offer route planning and advice.

t: 01671 401529

£8 £14 £20 £30

£5 £10 £13 £20

Tag-a-long/seat Under 16’s Adults Electric


Galloway Arms

We are here

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Full day

Half day



Open Mon-Sat 9am to 5pm all year

s bikes Our extensive hire fleet ha cling. for all ages and styles of cy id and Kids bikes, mountain, hybr electric bikes.

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The Old Red Cross Hall, Victoria Lane, Newton Stewart DG8 6DA

Bike Hire


for beginners. The Green Route is a flat, open route that explores the Palnure valley on a very quiet road. There’s every chance you could spot otters sunbathing on the banks of Palnure Burn or buzzards soaring the thermals above you. Green grade routes are designed for beginners and are suitable for most types of bike, you only need basic bike skills for this route. “Blue routes are slightly more challenging and are best suited to a basic mountain bike or a hybrid. The Blue Route at Kirroughtree is a great place to start your single track experience on. It’s ten kilometres of flowing trail that will give you some beautiful views,

perfect for beginners or kids who are confident on their bikes. “For kids who want a little bit more support or challenge, we run the Breakpad Academy during school holidays for young people aged 8-16 years to help them become confident on their bikes.”

a Victori


f you’re brand new to mountain biking the thought of hurtling off on a downhill trail can be daunting to say the least. What kit do you need, where do you start and what do you need to do to prepare? So we spoke to Galloway Forest Park’s resident biking expert, Sam Hill of the Breakpad at Kirroughtree, to get her top tips for a successful start to mountain biking! “If you’ve never tried mountain biking before, Kirroughtree is without a doubt the perfect place to give it a go. We have two routes that are perfect

GALRANGER2018 for 10% off

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Newton Stewart Dashwood Square

The Galloway Ranger

free parking


Alb ert St

Getting started in biking

Kirroughtree Visitor Centre, Palnure, Newton Stewart, Dumfries & Galloway, DG8 7BE e:



To A75


Mick Durham

Our Priorities G

alloway Forest Park plays an important role in helping to protect some of the most endangered species in the UK. This is because woodland and woodland edge habitats are home to a wide range of animal and plant species, and the way we manage these woodland areas can be the difference between contributing to the decline of a species or helping it to thrive. Across Scotland we have identified six species that are priorities for action under the Scottish Forest Strategy; these are the capercaillie, black grouse, red squirrel, pearl bordered fritillary butterfly, the chequered skipper butterfly and juniper. Three of these species are found in Galloway and we carry out a range of activities to support them.

Red Squirrels

Scotland has around 75% of the UK’s red squirrel population and the woodlands and forests of Galloway are a great place to see them. We have red squirrel strongholds based around the Fleet Basin and Bennan Forest, at the eastern end of the Raiders Road forest drive, but they can be found throughout Galloway Forest Park. Red squirrels thrive in coniferous and mixed woodlands and in fact they’re one of the very few mammals in Scotland that are completely reliant on woodlands. The main threat to red squirrels across the UK is the spread of the non-native grey squirrel. These larger and more robust grey squirrels can displace the native reds in competing for food. Grey squirrels can also carry squirrel pox, a virus that is fatal to red squirrels. Historically red squirrels have also been affected by the fragmentation and loss of suitable habitat.


The Galloway Ranger

Priority Actions Galloway Forest Park is a Red Squirrel Priority Woodland and the whole forest is managed with red squirrels in mind, everything from the species we select for restocking to the way we fell trees. For example, we make sure we keep enough older trees to produce mature seed crops for the squirrels. We also know that the mix of tree species is important and we try to mix species of conifer to improve the habitat. Red squirrels love Scots Pine and Norway Spruce and these tend to be the favoured feeding species, but Sitka Spruce is also important as a less rich, but very reliable stable food source.

Where to see them Red squirrels regularly visit the feeding areas at the wildlife hide at Kirroughtree Visitor Centre. When you’re walking in the forest look up into the canopies and you might spot a flash of red in the trees.

Black Grouse

The black grouse is one of the most rapidly declining bird species in the UK, and as we have an important population in Galloway we are working hard to halt this decline. Male black grouse are black birds with a fan tail, about the same size as a female pheasant, while females are smaller and grey brown in colour. Black grouse have a very distinctive courtship ritual or game that involves the males strutting and displaying in a specific area, while making a very distinctive mating call. This courtship is called lekking, and it’s a fascinating spectacle to watch. Black grouse breed on open moorland usually within a mile or so of the lekking site, and they use the

edge of the forest for feeding and cover. This means they need mosaic habitats where relatively small areas of woodland, moorland and grassland/meadow meet. Priority Actions We are trying to improve the woodland fringe to create the perfect habitat for black grouse. This habitat will be made up of native tree species and shrubs which provide good food for black grouse, in a mosaic of open ground. We’re cutting out conifers and leaving the willow and birch, and we’re trying to plant the upper edges of the forest with well spaced broadleaves. Wherever possible we are also removing stock and deer fences, or marking those that cannot be removed with metal plates, to reduce the possibility of black grouse flying into them. Our management of open ground habitat is also very important to black grouse. For example, we have done a lot of work to block old drainage systems on peatland areas to re-wet the site and raise the water table. This encourages the growth of sphagnum moss and other bog species which the black grouse and their chicks feed on. We’ll be working with local partner organisations on these activities, such as the Galloway Glens project which recently received funding for a black grouse habitat improvement project. Where to see them Visit the black grouse viewing platform on the Carrick Forest Drive, open from May to October.


Juniper is an evergreen shrub that’s under threat in Scotland for a number of reasons, including fragmentation of juniper populations, damage from deer and rabbits, and disease. Juniper has separate male and female bushes, which can make

pollination of isolated bushes difficult. The old age of juniper recorded in surveys in Scotland, with more than 50% of plants mature, old or dead, means natural regeneration can be unlikely, with low production of viable seed linked to age, health and senility. Juniper is a spiny conifer bush with blue-green leaves that are stiffened into needles. On female plants, the green flowers ripen to blackish-blue berries which are widely used by distilleries to flavour gin - indeed the aroma and flavour of juniper is the signature note of gin! Priority Actions A survey several years ago in Galloway established that there were fewer than 300 juniper surviving in Galloway Forest Park, which meant that natural regeneration would be challenging without intervention. The Galloway Forest Environment Team and the community volunteers have been collecting cuttings from these small remaining populations, nurturing them in Forest Enterprise poly tunnels so cuttings can be taken and grown on for planting. Around 12,000 juniper have now been planted in and around Bennan Hill so far, all grown from ancient Merrick stock. Cultivation and planting work will be ongoing throughout the next few years and a deer fence has been constructed to protect the new plants. This will remain in place for the next 20 years or so, and after this time the new woodland will be relatively resistant to grazing animals and the tall deer fence will be replaced with a shorter stock fence. Where to see To see an example of the distinctive procumbent Galloway form of common juniper visit the Montane Garden at the Glentrool Visitor Centre.

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Scottish Industrial Railway Centre

Steam hauled passenger trips over a short length of track, unique working example of a fireless steam locomotive (certain dates only), steam powered model railway, souvenir shop & tea room, based on working museum of industrial railways at the former NCB / Dalmellington Iron Company site. Open 11am – 4pm every Sunday in July & August. Other dates advertised on our website & leaflets. Free Car Park. The Scottish Industrial Railway Centre is operated by registered charity Ayrshire Railway Preservation Group, SC 016127

Dunaskin, Waterside, Dalmellington, nr Ayr, KA6 7JH Tel: 01292 313 579

Enjoy GoBoing, crazy golf, pedal karts, flying fox, nature trails, adventure playground, mini play zone, events and activities, then indulge in a delicious ice cream, with 20 flavours to choose from!

Open from 10am, Feb – 4th Nov

Rainton, Gatehouse of Fleet DG7 2DR 01557 815 222

Buy one get one free on the Farm Tour and Food Tour, advanced bookings only. Book now by phone and quote GR18.

Current Prices: Adult £6; Child £4; Family (2 Adults + 3 Children) £16

Drumroamin Farm

Camping & Caravan Site Friendly and privately owned site with open, level and well drained field. Fine views of Wigtown Bay and surrounding hills. Modern heated toilet/shower block. 1 South Balfern, Kirkinner, Newton Stewart Tel: 01988 840613 or 0775 247 1456

Relax, unwind and enjoy hearty food and delicious hot and cold drinks in the heart of the Galloway Forest Park! Kirroughtree and Glentrool Visitor Centres are the perfect starting point for many great days out exploring the Galloway Forest Park.

Kirroughtree Visitor Centre, Nr Newton Stewart, DG8 7BE Open daily throughout the year. T: 01671 402994 Glentrool Visitor Centre, Nr Newton Stewart, DG8 6SY Open daily April-Oct; open weekends during winter. T: 01671 840745

The Galloway Ranger


A naturally inspiring place to visit

Visit Logan Botanic Garden

We have a fantastic display of gems, crystals, minerals and fossils - a collection of unique and breathtaking creations from all over the world. Enter the Professor’s study and cafe to relax or research, savour our homebaking in the tearoom before watching the audio visual presentation “The Fire in the Stones�. Then experience the amazing Crystal Cave. Finally, to complete your day, visit our unique gift shop.



an experience you’ll treasure forever!

Scotland’s most exotic Garden Victorian-style Conservatory | Potting Shed Bistro Gift Shop | Plant Sales | Guided Walks and Events Open daily from 10am | 1 March to 15 November Admission: Adult £6.50 | Concession £5.50 | Children under 16 go free


Includes small voluntary donation to the Garden. For entry prices without donation please see website.

GEM & CRYSTAL DISPLAYS • GEM CUTTING WORKSHOP • PROFESSOR’S STUDY THE AMAZING CRYSTAL CAVE • AUDIO VISUALS • GIFT SHOP The Gem Rock Museum, Chain Road, Creetown, Dumfries and Galloway, DG8 7HJ, Scotland Tel: 01671 820 357 Port Logan, Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway DG9 9ND Tel 01776 860231 |

Open: Apr to Sep every day 9.30am – 5.30pm, Oct every day 10am – 4pm, Nov to Mar 5 days Wed to Sun 10am – 4pm

For more information visit

ŠDave Hancox

Part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, a charity registered in Scotland (no SC007983)




tea 4 Great coee, hot choc & Visit the newly erected Osprey 4 Tasty hot food & snacks Viewing Platform where you can 4 Free Parking observe our resident ospreys up close 4 Free Toilets and personal in their natural habitat without disturbing these magniďŹ cent birds. Spotting scopes provided. Full CCTV coverage of the nesting site from mid-April to early September.

4 Free Fishing 4 Free Wild Camping 4 Stargazers/Dark Sky park ! 4 And a very warm welcome

Tel: 01292 550 728

e: m: 07796 624856





Find Us: Loch Doon Dalmellington KA67QE. Just o the A713, the northern access to the Galloway Forest Park. Apr-Oct: Open 7 days a week, 9am-6pm (later if the weather’s great!) Nov-Mar: Open Sat & Sun 11am-4.30pm


The Galloway Ranger

Galloway Forest Park 2018 Events Here is just a taster of some great days out in the Galloway Forest Park! We add to our programme of events and activities throughout the year, so to find the latest events and activities take a look at our website:

Newton Stewart’s Walkfest 2018

11-17th May The 16th Newton Stewart Walking Festival takes place from Friday 11th to Thursday 17th May 2018. Run by volunteers Walkfest invites visitors to explore the wild hills, rugged coastline and rolling countryside of south west Scotland, including Galloway Forest Park. It features more than 30 guided walks plus a series of social events including talks and open evenings. Full details can be found on or on the Walkfest Newton Stewart facebook page.

Summer Holiday Events

Various dates Go wild and take part in Ranger-led summer holiday adventures with Galloway Forest Park’s summer holiday programme. This year we’re focussing on den building days, which will take place on Thursdays during July and August. This event is designed for children aged 5-11 years. Check website for full details and booking information.

Meet the Deer

Various dates You can meet and hand feed the deer in the Red Deer Range on Ranger-led Meet the Deer events at various dates throughout the year. The Roaring Stags and Rutting Week take place in October and is a must visit to see these mighty animals in all their autumn glory. Check website for details.

Halloween at Kirroughtree

26-28th October Kirroughtree is becoming famous for its Halloween events! It’s the place to go for family friendly spooky walks, fancy dress, scares and Halloween fun. Suitable for 7 years and above. These events can book up early. Check website for full details.

Dark Sky Events

Dark Sky Run Event

13-14th October Dark Skies Run at Galloway returns for its second year with three runs - 10k, 14 miles and 29 miles. First launched in Kielder Forest where it now attracts 1,000 runners, dark sky trail running is designed to challenge people to do something a little different and step outside their comfort zone. The two shorter runs take place in full dark, while the longer run the following day starts early afternoon with the latter portion only run in the dark. Suitable for runners of all abilities, with opportunities for volunteering. Full details and registration on

Various dates Stargazing, night time photography classes and dark sky tours are just some of the events our Dark Sky Rangers host throughout the winter months. Usually taking place at either Clatteringshaws or Kirroughtree Visitor Centres, light up your winter with inspirational evenings out exploring the universe. Check the Facebook page Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park for latest news and details.

Galloway Lodge at Clatteringshaws

2018 Events

Great Food Fabulous Homemade Soups Gorgeous Coffee Delicious Home Baking Luscious Hot Chocolate Tremendous Milk Shakes All served with beautiful views over the Galloway Hills

7 Apr 8.30-10.30pm Stargazing Spring Stars

During 2018 we have a large selection of events to suit all ages, from Stargazing to Story Telling, RSPB Bug Hunts to Marvellous Moths and the Mystical Owls and Raptors from Owl Magic. Please see our Facebook page or the Forestry Commission website for further details (booking may be required for some events). We welcome coach parties and any large groups, please call in advance to arrange 01644 420221.

31 Mar 8.30-10.30pm Stargazing Blue Moon 1 Apr 10am Owl Magic 2 Apr 10am Marvellous Moths 14 Apr 8.30-10.30pm Stargazing Spring Stars 30 May 11am Bug Hunt with RSPB Ranger 24 Jun 10am Marvellous Moths 22 Jul 10am Marvellous Moths 8 Aug 11am Bug Hunt with RSPB Ranger 11 Aug 9.30-11.30pm Stargazing Perseids Meteor Shower 12 Aug 11am Bug Hunt with RSPB Ranger 15 Aug 9.30-11.30pm Venus and the Moon 23 Aug 11am Bug Hunt with RSPB Ranger 25 Aug 9-11pm Full Moon 26 Aug 10am Marvellous Moths 26 Aug 11am-4pm Owl Magic 29 Aug 8.30-10.30pm Summer Stars 8 Oct 7-9pm Draconid Meteor Shower 13 Oct 7-9pm Stargazing Autumn Stars 17 Oct 6.30-8.30pm Stargazing Moonlit Stargazing 18 Oct 10am Marvellous Moths

20 Oct 6.30-8.30pm Stargazing Orionid Meteor shower

Open Mid March, t: 01644 420221 On the Queens Way, nr New Galloway, DG8 3SQ

27 Oct 6.30-8.30pm Stargazing Moonrise

3 Nov 6.30-8.30pm Stargazing Autumn Stars

The Galloway Ranger


Colouring competition Our chosen winner last year was: Bethia, aged 10 from Worcestershire

Runner up: Eliza, aged 6 from Surrey

Highly Commended: Ruby, aged 4 from Dumfries

If you are aged 10 or under then enter our colouring competition for your chance to win a £10 book token. Drop your entry off at any of the visitor centres in the Galloway Forest Park. Closing date: 30th Nov 2018. Name: Age: Address:



The Galloway Ranger

A Year of Great Days Out


or only £3 per month you can enjoy unlimited parking in the Galloway Forest Park when you buy our annual parking permit. Valid for 12 months from the date of purchase your annual parking permit gives you a perfect excuse to enjoy the great outdoors all year round. Parking permits cost £36 and can be purchased from any Visitor Centre in the Galloway Forest Park. Best of all any parking fees you’ve already paid on the day of purchase will be deducted from the cost of your permit! It’s great outdoors, so give yourself and your family the gift of unlimited dog walks, unlimited family days out, unlimited exploring and unlimited enjoyment in the Galloway Forest Park this year.

Highly Commended: Francesca, aged 10 from Manchester

Highly commended: Joel, aged 9 from Cumbria

Galloway Ranger 2018  

The Galloway Ranger covers the wealth of things to see and do in and around the Galloway Forest Park as well as introducing readers to the h...

Galloway Ranger 2018  

The Galloway Ranger covers the wealth of things to see and do in and around the Galloway Forest Park as well as introducing readers to the h...