History of Galloway
Scotland’s colourful and turbulent history is well represented around the fringes of the Galloway Hills, but seldom did anything of note occur within their bleak confines.
Galloway has a long and proud history going back almost 14 centuries when the first humans arrived on foot as the last ice age receded.
Very little is known about the first few centuries but archeologists are constantly finding evidence to gain a better picture of our ancestors
and how they lived. We know hunter-gatherers settled along the coastal margins during the later Stone Age period and migrated during the
Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages.
The geographical position of Galloway, being close to the English border, meant there was constant interaction over the centuries, but surrounded
by sea, rivers and hills it was a difficult area to control and was referred to as the “Kingdom of Galloway”.
Over the centuries Galloway was visited by the Romans, Christianity was established by St Ninian in 379 AD and the Vikings arrived in the 8th century. The Kingdom of Scotland was established in 843 AD and a succession of Houses ruled until Robert the Bruce was crowned King in 1306, but it was disputed and heralded a period of turbulence culminating in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The early years of this struggle were in Galloway with battles at Raploch Moor and Loch Trool and this period and area is often called “The Cradle of Scottish Independence”.
In the second half of the seventeenth century there was a period of conflict between the Scottish Presbyterian Covenanting movement and the government forces of Charles II and James VII. This was largely in the south west, particularly Galloway with in excess of 18,000 covenanters murdered.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries Galloway, along with other parts of southern Scotland, endured the Lowland Clearances which in many ways was even more brutal than the well documented Highland Clearances.
Galloway today is still off the beaten track but with our empty hills is well worth the keen walker taking time to visit and savour the beauty and solitude.
Galloway Forest Park
Galloway Forest Park is the largest Forest Park in Scotland covering 774 sq.Km (299 sq. miles) and was designated in 1947. It embraces much of Forestry and Land Scotland’s (formerly Forestry Commission Scotland) holdings in the Galloway Hills. Although its primary purpose is to produce commercial timber (500,000 tons/year) not all the land is under tree plantations. There are no plantations on the higher hills where trees simply do not thrive, nor have all the boggy valleys been planted, although they would support tree cover.
Recreation is now a significant part of the management of the Park with visitor centres at Glentrool and Kirriereoch. Fishing is available in many of the Lochs and the Raiders Road and Carrick forest drives are seasonally opened to traffic.
The Galloway Forest Park was granted Dark Sky Park status in November 2009, the first in the UK.
In recent years the visitor centres at Kirroughtree, Clatteringshaws and Glentrool have been developed to provide first class facilities in the heart of the park.
The 7 Stanes, Extreme Mountain Bike routes at Glentrool, Dalbeattie and Kirroughtree provide an exhilarating experience for experienced riders as well as more sedate options suited to families or less ambitious cyclists.