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Bruntis Loch, Kirroughtree Forest

Kirroughtree Forest, Dumfries and Galloway

Kirroughtree Forest is located approximately 3 miles to the east of Newton Stewart and part of the Dumfries and Galloway National Park. It is pretty much a dream sort of spot for anyone with any outdoor, nature or wildlife interests. Red Squirell, Kirroughtree forest cottageThe Kirroughtree visitor centre is easy to find by following the A75 from Dumfries and turn right at the village of Palnure and follow the signs for approximately 1 mile. The cottages immediately before the visitor centre are known as Stronord I believe and we were fortunate to be able to rent one of these during the first week of June 2008. And what a cottage. One of the best we have stayed in, ever, and with the garden securely fenced for the allowed dogs.

Supplied with 3 feeding stations and the food to keep them stocked, together with nesting boxes in the garden and a squirrel feeder as well, it was superb externally with constant entertainment from the Blue Tits with families using the boxes. The red squirrels acrobatics were a joy to watch when using the bird table and hangers instead of their own dedicated feeders.

Internally the cottage was spotlessly clean with laminated floors where it mattered and a superb fitted kitchen with every tool you could want. Light and airy bedrooms with comfortable beds just made it the ideal place to stay, or in fact, live. Surrounded by all the main routes and nature reserves of Dumfries and Galloway certainly makes this one special. Better still, its location can mean you never have to use the car during your stay at all if you go well stocked.

Mossyard beach near Kirroughtree Forest

Being based at Stronord gives access to a huge variety of countryside, from the surrounding mountains and forests to an impressive rocky coast with sandy bays and beaches ideal for swimming in the gulf stream washed bays. Try Mossyard, a few miles east from the centre and just off the A75 (picture above).

For ourselves though, apart from a brief visit to the Red Deer and wild mountain goat areas we found little need to leave the immediate area around the Kirroughtree centre. The walks from here into the forest itself led to some wonderful spots such as Little Bruntis Loch and the larger and more open Bruntis Loch with routes on main forest roads or little marked trails offering great collections of forest flora and fauna to spot. Stout boots or walking shoes are highly recommended here.Bruntis Loch

The forest itself is really full of surprises for those prepared to look, especially the little “puddles” alongside the main forest roads as the wildlife both in and around them is vast. One such “puddle” was well stocked with various water beetles, skaters, toads, newts and damselfly larvae while around it flew Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary butterflies, Common Blue, Azure Blue and Large Red damselflies and many, many more smaller bugs and insects. All in a roughly 5’ x 3’ x 1’ deep water hole. A much larger piece of wetland is alongside the approach road to the centre with excellent access and a frequent haunt for the local heron.

During the week we were there the car park was never busy and often deserted as shown in the picture here. An ideal spot for allowing the dogs a free run. But, please be careful. At this time of the year as you could easily see the local Roe deer in this area and they often have young fawns only a few days old and they are not at their best to be chased.

I did take one day out, courtesy of my good lady, with Robin Hogg of a tour company who organised a photography day for me. A 9am to 5pm day gave me an overview of the area. Robin and friend Eric showed me some great spots for photography, both scenic and for wildlife and even introduced me to my first sighting of an Adder. We also visited the red deer and wild goat areas but the highlight (excepting the adder) had to be following the Red Kite trail and the un-missable visit to the Bellymack Hill Farm Red Kite feeding station and hide. Many thanks for a great day Robin!.

A few pic’s from the day:

Red Deer, Adder, Red Kite and wild goat, Kirroughtree Forest

But back to Kirroughtree and the area around Stronord. A lovely walk, mainly on metalled road surface would be taking the renowned Seven Stanes mountain bike trail from the centre or cottages and follow this to Little Park Farm, where the road ends, through a couple of fields until you join the road again. Turn right over Craignine Bridge and keeping right follow this road past the Bargaly Estate and to the junction with The Old Bridge of Palnure. Turn right over the bridge and this will take you back to the cottages or the centre and car park. We loved this walk and spotted much wildlife and birds. Buzzards wheeled high here and we were privileged to see an Osprey gliding over one evening. Roe deer were seen and on one late evening, too dark under the trees for photos, we spotted an Otter from the Palnure bridge area.

Wild Mink, Kirroughtree Forest

Despite more evening and early morning forays here we didn’t see it again but a couple of mornings later at approx 6am I did spot a wild Mink. The local farmers good lady said that there had been none spotted in the area for a number of years!.

This walk also has some very very desirable properties along the way, a beautiful but unused gatehouse in need of some TLC and a particular white cottage next to Woodend Bridge spring immediately to mind. Houses dreams are made for bearing in mind their location and the abounding amount of wildlife around them.

Some desirable cottages, Kirroughtree Forest

So, a great week in a great place. Excluding most insects I spotted and almost without leaving the immediate area the spotted list read:-

Blue, great, coal and LT Tits, jays, rooks, jackdaws, nuthatch, chaffinches, greenfinch, goldfinch, buzzard, osprey, sparrow hawk, red kites, dunnock, house sparrow, blackbird, song thrush, pheasants galore, pied and grey wagtails, tree creeper, mallard, red squirrels, mink, otter, adder, rabbits, red and roe deer, oyster catcher family, wild goats, gs woodpecker, swallows, house martins, heron, wren, robin, gold crest, variable, common blue, azure and large red damselflies, plover, shelduck, bullfinch, kingfisher, Small pearl bordered fritillary butterfly, newts, toads, water beetles.......... I could go on. Most of these were seen in the garden or there abouts and none had to be searched for as such.

Kirroughtree Forest?.....................stunning!

More Kirroughtree photographs HERE

Kirroughtree Forest

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Kirroughtree Forest