Nature Reserves of South West Scotland
The Steamboat Inn, Carsethorn
Nature Reserves in Dumfries and Galloway :
Dumfries and Galloway has many reserves. Whilst these are well worth visiting, the extensive Forestry Enterprise plantations of Ae Forest, Mabie Forest, Dalbeattie Forest, the Galloway Forest Park woods at Carsphairn, Clatteringshaws and Glen Trool, offer considerable and diverse birdlife. There are also many areas of cliff and inland crag used as nesting sites. The Reserves protect special or extensive areas, often of wetlands. :-
National Trust for Scotland (NTS) Reserves :
Threave Garden and Estate : The gardens are a famous tourist attraction. Walks opened in 1998 lead across Trust-owned farmland to a hide on Lamb island and four hides by the River Dee. Parking at Threave Garden Visitor Centre. Frequent guided walks are made by the National Trust for Scotland Ranger Service in the summer season. Details from Threave Gardens : 01556-502575.
Rockcliffe and Rough Island : Coastal cliffs and heathland including Motte of Mark Ancient Monument. Severe visitor disturbance, but good sand and mud flats adjacent with seabirds and wading birds. Rough Island approached by tidal causeway, CAUTION : do not attempt to cross when tide is rising, as the sands are very flat and currents can be very fast. Rough Island may not be visited during nesting season. Parking at Rockcliffe beside beach and in main village car park. Frequent guided walks by National Trust for Scotland Ranger Service in summer season. Details from Threave Gardens : 01556-502575.
Grey Mare's Tail and Loch Skien : High waterfall east of Moffat. Seasonal Ranger service. Moorland birds in an upland landscape. Parking area beside road near Ranger caravan. CAUTION : Visitors must keep to the path as it is the only safe route across an unstable hillside. Frequent guided walks are made by the National Trust for Scotland Ranger Service in the summer season. Details from Threave Gardens : 01556-502575.
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Reserves :
Bridge of Cree Wood : On the eastern side of the Minnoch Valley north of Newton Stewart. Excellent deciduous woodland and riverside grassy marshland. Rich in songbirds, owls, woodpeckers and small raptors. Steep paths. Parking beside river. Leaflets and occasional Ranger-guided events. Donations box.
Loch Ken - Dee Marshes : Set in grassy marshland with birch, alder and blackthorn scrub beside Loch Ken reservoir in the Dee valley. Waterfowl and wading birds can be seen from the hide. Parking half a mile from the hide. Free. Donations box.
Mull of Galloway : This reserve is at the southern end of the Mull, within the wall across the Mull near the lighthouse. Cliff-nesting sea-birds during breeding season, notably cormorants and gannets. Views to Isle of Man, Cumbria and Ireland, in fine weather. The Visitor Centre is staffed in spring and summer, Rangers advising the visitors. Parking adjacent.
Mersehead Nature Reserve: Most recent addition. Very large reserve (former sea-marsh farm, as name implies). Parking near farm. Rented cottages for professional visitors. Viewing hide and Visitor Centre open all the year round. Famous for winter feeding grounds of migrating geese and other wildfowl.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Reserves :
The SNH is the lead agency in Scotland for protecting the nation's natural heritage. The Reserves listed here are open for visits. :-
Caerlaverock NNR (National Nature Reserve) : Telephone : 01387-770275. Not far from the Caerlaverock Castle (Historic Scotland, Ancient Monument), at the mouth of the Nith Estuary. Extensive reedbeds, coastal woodlands and salt marsh (merse) providing food and cover for large numbers of migrant and resident seabirds and waterfowl. Notice boards. Parking beside road overlooking estuary.
Cairnsmore of Fleet NNR :Grid Reference NX 555635. Visitor Centre telephone 01557-814435. 6 miles north upland reserve with moorland and bogland. Moorland birds of various kinds. Parking beside Visitor Centre.
Lochwood SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) :Grid Reference NY 085972. Ancient senile oak pollard woodland, with many fine woodland birds. Please keep to the road as the land is privately owned. Remarkably atmospheric, with ferns and mosses on the trees. Small parking bay near Lochwood Tower.
Tynron Juniper Wood NNR : Unusual scrub woodland of Juniper (Juniperus communis) which was originally grown to flavour gin. The scrub harbours many finches and tits. Warning : Muddy approach, so gumboots are advisable. Parking at roadside.
Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) Reserves :
Black Craig Wood : Fossil sea-cliff with oak woodland. Off the A75 halfway between Bridge of Cree and Newton Stewart. Woodland and field birds. Parking on road verge of access road. Free.
Carsegowan Moss : Rather damaged lowland raised bog, now recovering from drainage and afforestation. Birch carr with songbirds and some coastal seabirds. Beside unusual ruins of World War II ammunition store. Parking area near farm.
Carstramon Wood : North of Gatehouse-of-Fleet, mixed deciduous woodland adjacent to moorland. Large numbers of songbirds, small raptors and moorland birds. Famous bluebell wood in May and June. Parking beside road. Some leaflets available. Donations box.
Fontainbleau and Ladypark : This area of wet birch carr is flooded in winter and has been given an extensive walkway area. Songbirds and wetland species visit the area. Being near Dumfries, this area is subject to visitor disturbance. CAUTION : keep to walkways as some ditches are very deep and very dangerous. Parking on access road. Free.
Knowetop Lochs, New Galloway, A712 NGR NX706768 : Lochs and raised bog with adjacent birch carr and plantations. Wildfowl and moorland birds. CAUTION : keep to paths and walkways as bog-mosses floating on up to 4 metres of water. Parking beside road. Free.
Southwick Reserve : A small reserve of oakwood on sea-cliffs with merse at the base and extensive Phragmites communis reed beds. Roughly halfway between Southwick and Sandyhills on the A711 coast road. Very unusual as rock formations contain uranium ore, providing natural 'tracers' for silt movement measurement. Wading birds, seabirds and songbirds. Parking adjacent. Free.
Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) Reserves :
Caerlaverock Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre : Telephone
: 01387-770200 for details of special events. Small gift shop, some
refreshment facilities and picnic areas. Several hides and observation
towers, permanent supervision, charges for visiting the site. Parking for
coaches and cars. Expensive at £ 3 for an adult, but a remarkable day
out. Open 1000-1700 except 25th December.
Grateful thanks to Scottish National Heritage for assistance in
compilation of this Reserves List. They can be contacted at their two offices :-
Inn Enquiries and Booking Requests to :-
Tel. : 01387 880631. Mobile : 07885 648900.
Carsethorn's Nature Reserve List built