Bruce’s Stone, Loch Trool
Historic views over Loch Trool
It's just a short easy stroll up to the historic Bruce's Stone, where you can imagine past battles while soaking up stunning panoramic views over Loch Trool. For the very adventurous (and well-prepared), this is also the start of the hill route to the Merrick, the highest summit in the Southern Uplands.
At nearby Glentrool Visitor Centre you'll find toilets, including accessible facilities, a cosy café and a small selection of gifts and souvenirs.
There are also toilets, shops and plenty of places to eat and drink in Newton Stewart.
Mountain biking trails
Visit Bruce’s Stone
From the car park, it’s just a short easy stroll to Bruce's Stone, which stands on a wonderful vantage point overlooking the shimmering waters of the loch to the rolling hills beyond. It commemorates Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, and the Battle of Trool in 1307.
It’s hard to imagine, looking at this peaceful landscape, that such a bitter battle took place here 700 years ago. From the site of the stone you would have seen the drama unfold, as English soldiers were ambushed as they walked along the far shore of Loch Trool. A bugle was sounded as the soldiers approach the Steps of Trool and Bruce’s men released a volley of stones onto the surprised troops. Those who turned to flee met heavily armed men behind them. Victory was swift and bloody. Robert the Bruce went on to win the Battle of Bannockburn near Stirling in 1314, securing independence for Scotland.
Merrick Hill Access Path
The mighty Merrick, the highest mountain in the Southern Uplands, stands guard over Loch Trool. The views from the summit are stunning, but this is a serious hill route for well-prepared walkers.
The Merrick’s summit is at 2,766 feet (843m) and it’s a round trip of 8 miles (12.8 km). The well-worn path from Bruce’s Stone car park is very tempting, but the route to the summit is a serious undertaking and should only be attempted by experienced hillwalkers.
The route is not waymarked, so you need to take a map and compass with you. Remember that even in summer the weather can change very quickly in the Galloway Hills, so be prepared.
If you’re looking for something less strenuous, you can enjoy one of Scotland’s finest views without heading for the high ground. Sample the spectacle on the short trail up to Bruce’s Stone from the car park. See Loch Trool glittering at your feet and the Galloway Hills rolled out before you.
Routine tree felling operations are currently taking place next to the Merrick Hill Path. The path will not be closed. The operators on site will control the machinery when walkers wish to use the path. Please follow all directions for safety. Information is posted at the start of the trail.
Long distance cycle route
National Cycle Route 7 (Glasgow to Carlisle via Dumfries and Glen Trool) winds along the shore of Loch Trool and links Glentrool Visitor Centre with the other two visitor centres in the Forest Park. You might not want to tackle the whole 200 miles, but get a taste of the experience on scenic stretches of the route.
Long distance trail
The Southern Upland Way runs along the south shore of Loch Trool. This is Britain's first official coast to coast long distance footpath, running 212 miles (340 km) from Portpatrick on the Dumfries & Galloway coast to Cockburnspath on the North Sea between Edinburgh and Berwick on Tweed. It’s a dramatic and challenging route through the rolling hills of the Southern Uplands. Sample a scenic stretch from Glentrool to Loch Trool and see if you’re inspired to walk the rest!
This part of the Forest Park is a brilliant place to enjoy the night sky – and there are information panels about stargazing in Glentrool Visitor Centre car park. Because it’s so dark, the Forest Park is one of the best places in the world to enjoy the stars, which is why it has been designated a Dark Sky Park. On a clear night the stars are so bright that you don’t need a telescope or even binoculars to enjoy them.
Two Bruce's Stones?
There are indeed two stones that celebrate Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, in Galloway Forest Park.
The stone here at Loch Trool overlooks the site of a violent skirmish between Scots and English troops in 1307. It sits on a dramatic outcrop, with breathtaking views of the rolling hills and sparkling loch, and is a poignant memorial of this country's troubled past.
To find the other Bruce's Stone, head for Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre. It's a short stroll along the lochside to reach the stone where, like Robert the Bruce, you can rest a while and soak up the scenery.
How to get here
The Bruce's Stone car park is on the north shore of Loch Trool. To get there, head for Glentrool Visitor Centre. Turn off the A714 at Bargrennan, following signposts to Galloway Forest Park. Turn right just after Glentrool village, following signposts to Glentrool Visitor Centre.
From the visitor centre, follow signs to Loch Trool. After about 5 miles (8 km), turn left into the car park.
The car park is at grid reference NX 415 805.
DG8 6SU is the nearest postcode.
Glentrool Visitor Centre
You're just 5 miles (8 km) from Glentrool Visitor Centre, so stop off there to enjoy a relaxing snack at the café while watching woodland birds flocking at the feeders. This is also the start of some great trails, winding through the conifers or beside the rushing waters of the Trool and Minnoch.
Kirroughtree Visitor Centre
Head south just beyond Newton Stewart to find Kirroughtree, the gateway centre for Galloway Forest Park. This is the place for active adventures, with great trails, world-class mountain bike routes, play and picnicking – and the Wild Watch Hide for spotting red squirrels.
Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre
Relax at Clatteringshaws and enjoy tranquil views over lochs and hills. During the day, this is the perfect place for a gentle stroll beside the loch to find the Forest Park's other historic Bruce's Stone, while at night this is one of the best places in the Park to enjoy the spectacular night sky.
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