Galloway Forest Park

Coordinates: 55°07′26″N 4°25′26″W / 55.123861°N 4.423901°W / 55.123861; -4.423901
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Galloway Forest Park
Corserine and the Rhinns of Kells as seen from Craignaw in winter, showing areas of Sitka Spruce plantation.
Galloway forest park zoom.png
A map showing the location of the Galloway Forest Park (in red) in south west Scotland.
LocationDumfries and Galloway
Area774 km2 (299 sq mi)[1]
Governing bodyForestry and Land Scotland
WebsiteGalloway Forest Park
55°07′26″N 4°25′26″W / 55.123861°N 4.423901°W / 55.123861; -4.423901

Galloway Forest Park is a forest park operated by Forestry and Land Scotland, principally covering woodland in Dumfries and Galloway. It is claimed to be the largest forest in the UK. The park was granted Dark Sky Park status ("Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park") in November 2009, being the first area in the UK to be so designated.[2]

The park, established in 1947, covers 774 square kilometres (299 sq mi)[1] 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.

Galloway Forest Park and the people who visit it and work in it were the subject of a six-part BBC One documentary series aired in early 2018 entitled "The Forest".[3]

Dark sky[edit]

In November 2009 the International Dark-Sky Association conferred Dark Sky Park status on the Galloway Forest Park, the first area in the UK to be so designated.[2]

The Scottish Dark Sky Observatory, near Dalmellington, is located within the northern edge of the Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park. The observatory was partly funded by the Scottish Government and opened in 2012.[4] It suffered a devastating fire during the early hours of 23 June 2021, resulting in complete destruction of the observatory. The fire is currently being treated as suspicious.[5]

Alexander Murray[edit]

The park is also home to the ruins of the birthplace of Alexander Murray, the son of a shepherd and farm labourer. Murray was self-taught on multiple languages, and eventually went on to become professor of Oriental languages at University of Edinburgh.[6] A short distance away, high on a hillside, is Murray's Monument, which was erected in his memory in 1835.[7][8]

Typhoon crash[edit]

On 18 March 1944, 22-year-old Canadian pilot Kenneth Mitchell crashed his Hawker Typhoon aircraft in the forest (location here). The impact killed him instantly. Mitchell was in training in preparation for his squadron's role fighting the German V-1 flying bombs in the Second World War. On 18 March 2009, 65 years to the day since the crash, a commemorative plaque was installed on a mortared cairn at the crash site, where pieces of the aircraft still remain.[9][10] Mitchell was buried in Ayr Cemetery, Ayr.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Forest Estate Forest Parks GB". Scottish Government Spatial Data Infrastructure. 21 September 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Forest park given Dark Sky honour". BBC News. 16 November 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2009.
  3. ^ ""The Forest" BBC TV series". 8 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Alex Salmond officially opens Dark Sky Observatory". 5 October 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Wilson, Stuart (23 June 2021). "Dark Sky Observatory destroyed by devastating 'suspicious' fire". Daily Record. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  6. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0-902-198-84-X. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016.
  7. ^ "Murray's Monument". VisitScotland. Retrieved 3 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Historic Environment Scotland. "Murray's Monument (LB19314)". Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  9. ^ Dumfries and Galloway Standard, 18 March 2009
  10. ^ Loch Skerrow, Typhoon Air Crash - The Scottish Military Research Group - Commemorations Project
  11. ^ Kenneth Osborne Mitchell at

External links[edit]