Take in the view at Bennan
Lovely Bennan wood runs beside Loch Ken, near the picturesque village of New Galloway. Savour superb views of the loch and the rolling Galloway countryside as you wander through the wood – the views get even better as you head for the higher ground.
There are places to eat and drink and shops at nearby New Galloway and Laurieston. At New Galloway, you'll also find Catstrand, a community and arts centre.
Alternatively, take the Raiders' Road Forest Drive (April to October) to reach Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre. There are toilets, a café and shopping there. There are also seasonal toilets, including accessible facilities, at Otter Pool car park, half way along the Forest Drive.
Bennan Viewpoint Trail
A short stiff climb through the dark, mossy spruce of Bennan Wood is rewarded with a wonderful bird’s eye view of Loch Ken.
Long steep slopes for 400m with a number of seats on the way up. Firm but uneven gravel and rocky surface. Short narrow section and a flight of steps.
¾ miles / 1.2 km Allow ½ hour
You can really appreciate the long narrow ribbon of Loch Ken from this high point. Its waters are important for wildlife, including flocks of geese who winter here, and popular for water-skiing, fishing and sailing. It's also part of the Galloway Hydro-electric scheme – a barrage controls the flow of water at its southern end. Look out for red kites and buzzards circling overhead at the viewpoint too.
Mountain biking trails
Spot the Secret Cages...
Look out for signs at Bennan to the Secret Cages. Follow the trail to reach this formerly top-secret site, central to the reintroduction of red kites in Galloway between 2001 and 2005. Young red kites were raised here until they were ready to be released into the wild. Their location was kept secret to protect the birds as they adjusted to their new home.
Red Kite Trail
Find out more on the Galloway Kite Trail, a scenic 24 mile (40 km) tour around Loch Ken that’s an exciting way to view spectacular red kites in lovely scenery. In summer the route also includes the Raiders’ Road Forest Drive, which begins near Bennan.
Red kite success story
Bennan Wood was key to the reintroduction of red kites. The RSPB, Forestry Commission and other partners worked together to bring the birds back to this area in 2001. Thirty-six young birds were brought to cages hidden here in the forest, where they spent about six weeks getting acclimatised before being set free. The good news is that they thrived and there are now over 300.
Join the Galloway Kite Trail and find the best places to spot these magnificent birds, and download the trail leaflet here.
How to get here
Start exploring Bennan Wood at the Bennan Viewpoint car park. The car park is beside the A712 between New Galloway and Laurieston.
The car park is at grid reference NX 651 722.
DG7 2NG is the nearest postcode.
Raiders’ Road Forest Drive
This scenic two-way Forest Drive begins just south of Bennan Viewpoint car park. It’s a 10 mile (16 km) route along a forest road that winds beside the banks of the Black Water of Dee to Clatteringshaws. Stop off at the Otter Pool car park for a picnic beside the river – there are toilets there too – and watch out for woodland wildlife and forest artworks along the way. Remember to take some change as there is a small charge to use the Forest Drive. Open April to October.
Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre
Take the Forest Drive to reach Clatteringshaws, where you can relax and enjoy tranquil views over lochs and hills. During the day, this is the perfect place for a gentle stroll to one of the Forest Park’s two historic Bruce’s Stones, while at night this is one of the best places in the Park to enjoy the spectacular night sky.
Share your experience
For questions and complaints, please contact us directly.