Step into nature at Knockman Wood
This wood is treasured by local walkers for its tranquillity, wildlife and archaeological sites. Explore the trails here for stunning views over Cairnsmore and the coast, and watch out for roe and fallow deer, woodland birds, bats and butterflies dancing in sunny glades during the summer.
There are toilets and a variety of places to eat, drink and shop at nearby Newton Stewart. You're also close to Kirroughtree Visitor Centre, which has parking, toilets, a café, souvenirs and bike hire.
A gentle trail through peaceful woodland. Watch for fallow and roe deer and woodland birds in the trees.
Generally a firm smooth surface, with a long grass section, which is firm and dry. Occasionally wet after rain. Moderately steep slopes, with some long gradual climbs. One small bridge.
1 ½ miles / 2.5 km Allow 1 hour
The route also passes a wildlife pond – look out for smooth newts, as well as damselflies and dragonflies zooming around in summer – and enjoy views over Newton Stewart along the way.
Wind through oak and hazel trees and out onto open grassy ground to see evidence of the area’s rich history.
A varied path: firm smooth gravel and grass to rough, uneven and rocky areas. Moderately steep with some short fairly steep slopes. Includes two small stream crossings. Can be wet in places.
2 ¾ miles / 4.5 km Allow 2 hours
The trail leads you past a Stone Age burial site, a medieval corn kiln and through traditionally coppiced old woodland. Information panels along the way reveal Knockman Wood’s fascinating story and the hard work of the Cree Valley Woodland Trust here. Enjoy views over Newton Stewart as you go, and watch out for fallow deer, a host of woodland birds and, in summer, butterflies and dragonflies too.
Knockman Wood Trail
Climb up through peaceful woodland pasture to reach a spectacular viewing point overlooking Barclye Moor and the Wood of Cree. Alternative for a longer circuit: loop up to the viewpoint path along either the Pond Trail or Woodland Trail.
A very varied path from wide forest road to open hill. Some sections are grassy and others rocky and uneven. Some long steep gradients.
2 ¾ miles / 4.6 km Allow 2½ hours
The areas of open woodland here teem with wildlife. In summer, look out for redstarts and pied flycatchers who arrive to nest here in the old trees. In the sunny glades, see how many of Knockman’s 14 different species of butterfly you can spot.
If you are feeling very energetic and have plenty of time, you can also continue over the hill from the viewpoint to the RSPB’s Wood of Cree. This nature reserve is the largest area of ancient woodland in Southern Scotland. The RSPB has a number of marked trails through the woods.
Mountain biking trails
Knockman Wood has a rich history. It is an ancient semi-natural woodland originally full of oak and hazel. In 1824 it became a deer park and, around that time, non-native beech and sycamore trees were introduced.
In recent years, Forestry Commission Scotland has been working with Cree Valley Community Woodlands Trust here to thin out the beech and sycamore and reduce overgrazing by fallow deer. As a result, the native species are thriving and local wildlife is flourishing too.
The Trust continues to look after Knockman Wood in partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland. The Trust volunteers manage the site and work hard to maintain the trails and enhance the woodland habitats here.
How to get here
Knockman Wood is just north of Newton Stewart. From Newton Stewart, cross the River Cree to Minnigaff then take the minor public road signposted to ‘RSPB Wood of Cree’.
After about 500 yards (457 metres), slow down and look out for a small brown sign to ‘Knockman Wood’ near some houses. Turn here and go through the gates (please close them behind you). Follow the forest track to reach the car park, which is at grid reference NX 408 673.
DG8 6SL is the nearest postcode.
There are regular buses to Newton Stewart from Dumfries. Find details at Traveline Scotland.
Visit nearby High Camer Wood at any time of year for a colourful stroll. In spring spot bluebells, honeysuckle and wood sorrel and enjoy glorious colours as the trees turn in autumn.
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