Raiders’ Road Forest Drive
Take a ride along the Raiders' Road
One of two forest drives in Galloway Forest Park, this drive is an easy way to see more of the Park's woods and wildlife without having to walk too far.
It's a 10 mile (16 km) two-way forest drive, which is open to vehicles between April and October and for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders year-round.
There are various places to stop along Raiders' Road. Head for Otter Pool car park, about half way along, for the perfect riverside picnic spot with plenty of room on the grassy banks to play. Alternatively, stop at Stroan Loch for peaceful waterside views, an old viaduct and the start of the scenic but strenuous Buzzard Trail.
Find out more in our guide to Galloway Forest Park.
Seasonal opening for vehicles
Raiders' Road Forest Drive is open to vehicles between April and October (closing October 30th) and for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders year-round.
Charge and car parking
There is a small charge of £2 for vehicles to use the forest drive. The meters take cards as well as cash. The fee covers the drive as well as parking for the whole day.
The best place to start your visit to the Raiders' Road is at Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre. It's open year-round and has toilets, a café and souvenirs. There are also seasonal toilets, including accessible facilities, at Otter Pool car park, half way along the forest drive (April to October).
You'll find more places to eat and drink at nearby New Galloway.
A challenging walk through the Norway spruce and Corsican pine above Loch Stroan to reach the atmospheric ruins of Clachrum village. Magnificent views across the loch from Ross Hill.
Rough and narrow grassy paths with exposed tree roots and muddy sections. Includes steep slopes and sections that may be overgrown. Look out for vehicles along the Forest Drive.
1 ½ miles / 2.3 km Allow 1 hour
Look out for the historic viaduct at the end of the loch, which once carried the railway line between Dumfries and Stranraer. It featured in John Buchan’s famous 1915 novel, The 39 Steps.
Spot buzzards and red kites circling overhead and watch out for flocks of siskins and crossbills fluttering in the conifer canopy.
This trail begins at the Loch Stroan car park, near the Mossdale end of the Raiders’ Road Forest Drive. The car park is signposted from the Forest Drive. The car park is at grid reference NX 650 702. Using SatNav? DG7 2ND is the nearest postcode.
Mountain biking trails
Fishing at Loch Stroan
Fish for pike and perch from the banks of pretty Loch Stroan at the eastern end of the Raiders’ Road, near Bennan. Fishing permits are available from any of the Forest Park visitor centres.
Stop at the Raiders’ Road riverside car park, close to Clatteringshaws, for superlative stargazing. 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. There are information panels about stargazing at Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre.
Red Kite Trail
The Galloway Kite Trail, a scenic 24 mile (40 km) tour around Loch Ken, is an exciting way to view spectacular red kites in lovely scenery. During the summer, the trail includes the Raiders’ Road Forest Drive, so look out for red kites soaring overhead as you explore. Bennan Viewpoint car park and trails at the east end of the Forest Drive, near Mossdale, are particularly good for sightings.
Watch wildlife along the Raiders’ Road
The river and surrounding forests of the Raiders’ Road are alive with birds and animals. Watch out for red and roe deer grazing amongst the trees, crossbills and siskins feeding on conifer seeds, and keep an eye on the skies for buzzards, sparrowhawks and, of course, red kites. If you’re really lucky, you might spot an elusive otter or even a pine marten – although they are so shy that you’re probably more likely to find just their footprints or dark droppings!
Art in the Park
The landscape and wildlife in Galloway have provided inspiration to artists for many years. There is a series of contemporary works of art in the Forest Park that celebrate the unique sense of place of the forest, lochs and open spaces. Along the Raiders’ Road, get lost in The Labyrinth, meet the stone otter at Otter Pool, and look out for an impressive wooden sculpture of a red kite at Mossdale on the Buzzard Trail.
What’s in a name?
For most of its length the Forest Drive follows the course of an old drove road that featured in ‘The Raiders’ by local author, Samuel Rutherford Crockett. Crockett wrote his exciting tale of smuggling in Galloway in 1894, describing how stolen cattle were driven along this route and into the remote Galloway hills. The book features Johnnie Faa, a historical figure who was the ‘King of the Gypsies’ in 16th century Scotland. You may have encountered Faa more recently in Phillip Pullman’s popular fantasy trilogy, ‘His Dark Materials’.
How to get here
You can start the Raiders’ Road Forest Drive at its western end near Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre or near Mossdale to the east.
Starting Raiders’ Road Forest Drive at Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre
Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre is on the Queen’s Way (A712) between New Galloway and Newton Stewart. The visitor centre car park is at grid reference NX 552 764.
If you're using SatNav, DG7 3SH is the nearest postcode for the visitor centre.
Starting Raiders’ Road Forest Drive near Mossdale
Mossdale is on the A762 between New Galloway and Laurieston, just south of Bennan Viewpoint car park. The entrance to the Forest Drive is at grid reference NX 654 719.
If you're using SatNav, DG7 2NG is the nearest postcode for this entrance to the Forest Drive.
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 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.
Watch out for wildlife
From Clatteringshaws, you could take the Queen’s Way (A712) to reach Kirroughtree Visitor Centre. This scenic route takes you past the Wild Goat Park and the Red Deer Range – wildlife highlights not to be missed.
Red Kite Trail
Following the Galloway Kite Trail is a great way to find out more about majestic red kites and to enjoy the views and villages around tranquil Loch Ken along the 24 mile (40 km) route. The Kite Trail leaflet highlights the route and some great places to stop and explore along the way.
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