If you like Forests, we’ve got lots of them, and the biggest and best of them all is Galloway Forest Park (only 30 miles from The Rhins). The forest has three Visitor Centres all of which were completely upgraded in 2013 at a cost of £millions;
Glentrool Visitor Centre – better known as The Gateway To The Galloway Hills. The centre is aside the the Water of Minnoch and its Falls, and the tea room offers information, refreshments and gifts. Close to the centre are waymarked trails, cycle routes and well-positioned picnic areas. Loch Trool is a stunning vista, and about three miles past the Visitor Centre is the famous ‘Bruce’s Stone’, which looks over the scene of an ancient battle between Robert the Bruce and an English force. From ‘Bruce’s Stone’ you can climb up the to the summit of ‘The Merrick’ – at 2,800 ft this is southwestern Scotland’s highest mountain.
Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre lies on the shores of Clatteringshaws Loch, a place of stunning scenery on a par with the Highlands. The centre has a Tearoom and makes a good starting point for the ‘Queens Way’ a toll road through the forest which has an amazing number of things to see and discover. When in the area, keep an eye out for Eagles, Buzzards, Falcons, and Deer.
The Visitor Centre offers an interactive wildlife exhibition which really captures the imagination of youngsters. Clatteringshaws is also close to the Galloway Red Kite Trail, which has made great strides into re-introducing these magnificent birds. If you want to see how our ancestors lived, there is a reconstructed Iron Age Roundhouse a very short walk from the Visitor Centre – kids find it fascinating. The site of the original Round House was discovered when Clatteringshaws Loch was drained a few decades ago.
Kirroughtree Visitor Centre offers family friendly facilities. There is a tea room, run by Cream o Galloway offering light meals, refreshments and a gift shop. Around the centre are walking and cycling trails suitable for all, an ‘easy access’ trail around the pond, and other, well-waymarked trails and mountain bike routes – including the world famous 7 Stanes Mountain Bike Trails. The Black Route on this is reckoned to be ‘something else’!! For the young – and not so young – an indoor Forest Classroom is available by prior arrangement for schools and groups. There is also an adventure play area for children.