Galloway Forest Park is a woodland park, operated by Forestry Commission Scotland, principally covering woodland in Dumfries and Galloway. The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, on the Craigengillan estate in South Ayrshire, at the edge of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, was partly funded by the Scottish Government and opened in 2012.
There are countless trails set out in the park both for walkers and cyclists. We did a circular walk from the Kirroughtree Park centre and this took in some wonderful mossy forest and beautiful lochs. The trails are well laid out and marked making it easy to follow.
The park, established in 1947, covers around 300 square miles (780 km2) and receives over 800,000 visitors per year. The three visitor centres at Glen Trool, Kirroughtree, and Clatteringshaws receive around 150,000 each year. Much of the Galloway Hills lie within the boundaries of the park and there is good but rough hillwalking and also some rock climbing and ice-climbing within the park. Within or near the boundaries of the park are several well developed mountain bike tracks, forming part of the 7stanes project.
As well as catering for recreation, the park includes economically valuable woodland, producing 500,000 tons of timber per year.
Back close to the Kirroughtree Centre we took a short walk to an area that was set out for bird watching with a large number of feeders hung from the trees. We saw some beautiful woodpeckers and many other birds and even a field mouse came out to greet us. However we were disappointed not to be able to see the elusive red squirrels.
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