A new visitor centre opens this weekend as part of a major investment in the Galloway Forest Park. For walkers and mountain bikers the centre includes showers, changing rooms, a bike shop and bike washes.
Forestry Commission Scotland has invested £4.5 million in the Forest Park to create the new complex at Kirroughtree, and to modernise two other existing centres at Clatteringshaws and Glentrool.
Kirroughtree visitor centre opens its doors on Saturday 7th Dec.
The forest park's 300+ square miles includes Merrick, the highest hill in southern Scotland, and several other Corbetts. Nearly one million visitors come to the park every year, attracted by its mix of rough upland terrain and easy forest tracks, plus of course its coveted Dark Sky status.
This was one of several areas recently named in Holyrood as worth considering for possible National Park status - though the Scottish Government has managed to kick the question back into the long grass for now (see UKH news here).
The new tourism developments (if not the National Park idea) have been welcomed by Paul Wheelhouse, Environment & Climate Change Minister:
'Galloway Forest Park was established back in 1947 and is famed for its wilderness, rugged landscapes, nature and outdoor recreation' he said.
'This multi-million pound investment in forest tourism marks a significant commitment to help support and grow green tourism in the region.'
Set in landscaped grounds, the Kirroughtree complex is billed as the only fully Dark Sky friendly centre of its kind. It aims to be very user friendly for those exploring the forests or just wanting somewhere for a bite to eat and a coffee.
For walkers or mountain bikers, there will be new showers, changing rooms, bike washes and something called an 'open space modern café'. There’s also an under-floor heating system which is powered by underground piping and solar technology.
For more info on the Galloway Forest Park see the Forestry Commission website here.