Kirroughtree Visitor Centre
Kick back in Kirroughtree
There's always something different to see and do here at Kirroughtree, whatever the time of year. The visitor centre is a great place to kick back and enjoy the view, browse the displays or fuel up for the trails, and there's lots of information about what to see and do.
If you fancy a gentle stroll, wander to the Wild Watch Hide and spot red squirrels and woodland birds, or meander to picturesque Bruntis Loch for a picnic. Burn off some steam in the adventure play park or try the orienteering course, check out the single track on your mountain bike or enjoy a gentle family cycle on the forest roads. This is also a great place to be after dark, when the stars put on a spectacular show!
Find out more in our guide to Galloway Forest Park.
The visitor centre has toilets, including accessible facilities, a café selling delicious sandwiches, hot meals incorporating quality local produce and sumptuous cakes, and a small shop for the perfect souvenir of your visit. There's even a log burning stove to keep you snug and warm, whatever the time of year.
You can also find toilets, shops and plenty of places to eat and drink in nearby Newton Stewart.
Over half term break, 11th - 26th February, the centre will be open 10am-4pm every day.
From the 27th February, it will be open weekdays from 11am to 2.30pm and weekends from 10am to 4pm.
From April and during the summer months, the centre is open from 10am to 5pm every day.
Bike hire and repairs
For bike repairs, friendly advice or to hire a bike for the day, visit The Break Pad bike shop (open Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 4pm) in the visitor centre.
Please note, parking charges are as follows:
- £1 for up to 1 hour
- £2 for up to 3 hours
- £3 for all day
- £12 for minibus and coach all day
Season passes are also available. For more information please contact us.
Wild Watch Trail
A short path to the Wild Watch Hide, where squirrels and woodland birds visit the feeders. The Kirroughtree play park is further along.
A firm and generally flat path, with some short gentle gradients. No obstacles. Good in all weathers.
¼ miles / 0.5 km Allow ¼ hour
Anniversary Cairn Trail
Follow this trail through mature woods to the stunning viewpoint at the Galloway Forest Park 50th Anniversary Cairn, then back past the tranquil Bruntis Loch.
Firm gravel paths with some wide forest roads. Generally moderate gradients. Includes a bridge. Shares some sections with mountain bike trails – look out for bikers.
1 ½ miles / 2.5 km Allow 1 hour
Big Bruntis Trail (closed)
This classic woodland circular route passes picturesque Big Bruntis Loch – rest a while by the loch or stop for a picnic to soak up the peaceful atmosphere.
A firm gravel trail, which is generally moderately steep over its whole length. Includes one bridge. Some sections are shared with mountain bike routes.
2 ¼ miles / 3.5 km Allow 1½ hours
Bruntis Loch was created in the 18th century by damming the Bruntis Burn to provide water for the nearby lead mines. Look out for the old lade (open channel) that carried the water.
The loch looks particularly attractive in the spring, when it is surrounded by a carpet of colourful wildflowers, and in summer watch out for dragonflies over the water and butterflies in sunny glades. This is also a great trail for spotting red squirrels and woodland birds. Watch out for tiny treecreepers darting up tree trunks – you might mistake them for mice! Look higher into the canopy for fluttering flocks of siskins feeding on conifer seeds.
Little Bruntis Trail
This path visits both the Big and Little Bruntis Lochs, before heading through mixed woodland with beautiful big beech trees. Keep your eyes open for the workings of the historic tin mines, as well as roe deer and red squirrels.
A firm gravel path. Fairly steep gradients. Includes a short section (100m) on quiet public road.
2 ½ miles / 4.0 km Allow 1½ hours
Larg Hill Trail
A scenic circuit around wooded Larg Hill rewards you with great views over Newton Stewart, a visit to lovely Bruntis Loch and follows the course of a tumbling burn.
Firm gravel paths and forest roads, with some sections muddy after rain. Long fairly steep gradients. Includes short section of quiet public road. Shares some sections with mountain bike trails.
4 ¼ miles / 7.0 km Allow 3 hours
In spring watch out for great spotted woodpeckers nesting close to the roadside – look for tell-tale round holes in dead treetrunks where they nest and bring up their young. Listen for the adults drumming (rapid pecking) in the trees – this is the woodpecker’s way of advertising for a mate and marking its territory.
Mountain biking trails
Kirroughtree is one of the world-renowned 7stanes mountain biking trail centres.
There’s a trail suitable for everyone here, from gentle family routes on forest roads to technically challenging singletrack.
The Kirroughtree 7stanes map (PDF 1.2MB) shows the trails.
Trail update (23rd February): The blue extension loop is closed due to harvesting work. All other trails are open.
Please note, chainsaw work is taking place on the bike trails. Observe all safety signage and any direction given by onsite banksmen.
Kirroughtree Skills Area
This small set of trails is an ideal warm up for your ride or, if you are new to mountain biking, they’ll give you a taste of the type of trail features you'll find at Kirroughtree.More information...
You’ll find a lot packed into this small section of trails, where you can practise for the more difficult obstacles you might meet on our longer routes. It’s the best place to perfect your technique before you get down to serious business.
Green: Easy - 3.8 miles / 6.0 km
Take an easy ride through the scenic Bargaly Glen.More information...
The perfect route for first timers or children. Enjoy a relaxing ride through the mixed woodland of Bargaly Glen along farm tracks and quiet public roads.
Blue: Moderate - 6.3 miles / 10.0 km
Great if you are looking for something with a bit of added excitement. Offers some beautiful views and the option of the Doon Hill extension.More information...
Ideal for beginners or kids who are confident on their bikes, this winding route is mainly singletrack with a couple of small rock drops thrown in for good measure.
Red: Difficult - 10.6 miles / 17.0 km
A technically testing and physically demanding trail.More information...
True to its name, The Twister route offers a winding trail with real challenges waiting after every twist and turn. It’s a physically demanding ride, with plenty of rock steps, drop-offs and other technical obstacles to keep you on your toes.
Black: Severe - 8.7 miles / 14.0 km
Black Craigs combines fast flowing singletrack and rocky technical features to test your skills. A highlight is McMoab, with its huge slabs and ridges of exposed granite linked by boulder causeways.More information...
From the fast flowing single track to the testing rocky technical challenges, on the Black Craigs you’ll find plenty of exposed granite and features to get your adrenaline pumping.
To reach the start of Black Craigs, follow the red-graded Twister trail to its half-way point.
Wild Watch: all about wildlife
You can find out all about the wildlife of the Forest Park at Kirroughtree. Explore the colourful displays in the visitor centre to discover what lives in the trees, waterways and open hills – and what might be watching you from the skies overhead! It’s also just a short distance from the centre to the Wild Watch Hide, where you can usually see red squirrels and woodland birds feeding. You might even spot roe deer leaping through the woods on your way. There's even been a family of pine martens spotted on the webcam.
For a taster of the wildlife you might see at Kirroughtree, take a look at our Kirroughtree webcam on the wildlife page.
Family fun: a great place for the whole family
The play park at Kirroughtree is a great place for the kids to burn off some energy, and there are several trails suitable for little legs and pushchairs. You could also try out our orienteering trail – work as a team or compete against each other, then reward the winners with ice cream or sticky cakes in the café!
Stars in your eyes: Dark Sky Park
Scotland has some of the darkest skies in Europe, and Galloway Forest Park is one of the darkest places in Scotland – which is why it’s the UK’s first Dark Sky Park. Kirroughtree is a brilliant place to enjoy the night sky – look out for information panels at the visitor centre which will help you spot the stars.
Fishing in the Forest Park
There’s great fishing in the Forest Park, including brown trout and pike. You can buy a permit at any of the visitor centres for these lochs across the Park: Loch Braden, Loch Dee, Black Loch, Loch of the Lowes, Lillies Loch, Spectacle Loch, Garwachie, Loch Eldrig, Stroan Loch and Linfern Loch.
Long distance cycle route
National Cycle Route 7 (Glasgow to Carlisle via Dumfries and Glen Trool) also winds through the Forest Park, linking Kirroughtree with the other two visitor centres here. You might not want to tackle the whole 200 miles, but get a taste of the experience on scenic stretches of the route.
There's plenty of wildlife in the woods around Kirroughtree, especially if you sit quietly and see what comes to see you. And you don't have to go far to see it - scamper along to the Wild Watch Hide to spot red squirrels, and watch out for roe deer amongst the trees along the way. Look out for chaffinches, coal tits, great tits and blue tits on the bird feeders at the hide. If you're lucky, you might see a great spotted woodpecker. At dusk, look for bats swooping overhead.
If you simply can't wait to see some wildlife in person, you can see if you can catch something on the Kirroughtree Wild Watch webcam.
A thriving industry: lead mining at Kirroughtree
Looking at the peaceful forest here, it's hard to imagine this was once a busy centre for lead mining. But if you look carefully, you can still find evidence in the landscape.
Lead ore was found here by chance in 1763 when a road was being built. Miners went in search of the veins of ore by digging 'adits' or entrances into the hillside by hand. They were successful and, by 1780, there were 44 men working here in two mines called Blackcraig.
Water was essential to the mining process, to power crushing machinery and to wash the ore, so the mining company dammed Bruntis Burn to create Bruntis Loch. They then built a lade (an open channel) to carry water from the loch to the mill where the ores were washed. As you explore Kirroughtree, visit Bruntis Loch and look out for the lade and one of the old adits disappearing into the hillside. Find out more about Kirroughtree Lade.
How to get here
Kirroughtree Visitor Centre is just off the A75 at Palnure, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of Newton Stewart.
Turn off the A75 at Palnure, following the signs to Kirroughtree Visitor Centre. Keep following the signs for about 1½ miles (3 km), until you reach the car park.
The car park is at grid reference NX 452 646.
DG8 7BE is the nearest postcode. Please note: despite what your satnav may suggest, we strongly recommend you stay on the A75 until Palnure and turn off to the visitor centre there.
There are regular buses between Dumfries and Stranraer, via Newton Stewart and Gatehouse of Fleet. Get off at Palnure and follow the signs to the visitor centre – it's about 1 mile (2 km) away on foot. Find details at Traveline Scotland.
There are two other visitor centres at Galloway Forest Park, each with a very different character and setting to Kirroughtree. You'll find information, maps, gifts, a tasty selection of food and drink at each visitor centre, as well as great trails!
Discover wonderful woods, water, hills and history at Glentrool. Enjoy its tranquil woodland setting, and explore a series of scenic trails beside babbling burns and to picturesque Loch Trool.
Relax at Clatteringshaws and enjoy tranquil views across the loch and surrounding hills. During the day, this is the perfect place for a gentle stroll beside the loch 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.
Other local highlights close to Kirroughtree include the pretty towns of Newton Stewart, Creetown and Gatehouse of Fleet, and Scotland's national book town of Wigtown is nearby too.
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For questions and complaints, please contact us directly.