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Issue 90 - Dark Skies & Wide Open Spaces

Scotland Magazine Issue 90
December 2016

 

This article is 12 months old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Dark Skies & Wide Open Spaces

Keith Fergus takes in one of Scotland's most peaceful natural environments

Situated in the gorgeous region of Galloway, in southwest Scotland, Galloway Forest Park is home to some of the wildest and most diverse landscapes in the country and is replete with lochs, rivers, woodlands and mountains.

The largest forest park in Britain, it covers an area of 300 square miles and was granted the significant title of Britain’s first Dark Sky Park in 2009, due to the lack of light pollution within its boundaries. Indeed, if visiting on a clear night, some 7000 stars and planets are visible to the naked eye and so is the broad sweep of the Milky Way.

When visiting during the day, the array of wildlife within the park is wonderful. Red squirrel, wild goat, hen harrier, otter, red deer, red kite, black grouse and golden eagle are just a small selection of the fauna that may be spotted.

Furthermore, the Galloway Forest Park has some of the finest walking routes in Scotland, particularly among its spectacular mountains. The park is home to, amongst others, The Merrick (which at 843 metres is the highest mountain in southern Scotland), Cairnsmore of Fleet, Shalloch on Minnoch, and Kirriereoch Hill .

However, it is perhaps the Rhinns of Kells, and its high point of Corserine, that bestows the finest panorama. From Corserine’s 814-metre summit, a wonderful view extends across the park's wide open spaces and takes in its lower reaches, beautiful lochs, and dramatic high hills in a perfect illustration of this magical region's timeless beauty.