Galloway Forest tourism project moves forward

The proposed new building for Kirroughtree
The proposed new building for Kirroughtree

PLANS to update tourism centres in the Galloway Forest Park have moved forward as new operators have signed up to provide a range of services from the park.

Forestry Commission Scotland’s multi-million pound project to see a new visitor centre complex at Kirroughtree, a totally modernised centre at Clatteringshaws and an upgraded centre at Glentrool were given the go-ahead by planners last month.

Keith Muir, Tourism Manager with Forestry Commission Scotland in Galloway said: “With planning permission granted, we have a fantastic opportunity to really sell Galloway Forest Park as a major tourism destination and draw visitors all year round to this most beautiful part of Scotland.

“The new visitor services we have planned are a major step up in terms of what we will offer visitors in the future. We started planning for the project three years ago and now the hard work to bring it to life begins.

“We’ve got a great team of operators on board who will work with us to create a brilliant atmosphere and top rate services.”

Sam Hill, who has successfully run The Breakpad bike shop at Kirroughtree for a number of years, will expand the business and include outdoor equipment.

Sam said: “I am thrilled to continue our longstanding partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland. The new visitor centre will allow us to extend The Breakpad offering and provide an even better biking and outdoor experience for our many customers.”

Catering across all the visitor centres sites will be managed by Churchill Catering, who will be taking over the current catering at Kirroughtree early in 2013.

Robertson, the construction group, has been contracted to work with the Commission to oversee the building work associated with the visitor centre upgrades. Robertson are acting as principal contractor for the project and are responsible for placing subcontracts to carry out the work.

Set in landscaped grounds, the new modern centre will be very user-friendly for all visitors wishing to venture to the forests or just wanting to visit a great location for a good cup of coffee. There will be new showers, changing facilities and bike washes too making it an all year round attraction. The centre will also benefit from ground floor heating from renewable sources and a wood burning stove to add additional heat and atmosphere. With sustainability playing a key part of the project along with good building design and the use of timber and stone, Kirroughtree will be a site to be proud of.

The existing Kirroughtree centre is to be retained and with some small renovations become an office and works department complex shared with other partner organisations.

Clatteringshaws will see a major refit with huge glass windows with good views out over Clatteringshaws loch and across in the core of the Dark Sky Park. Glentrool’s centre will be more modest with an upgrade of the small centre and toilet facilities, keeping Glentrool an intimate and picturesque site for all to visit.