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Galloway Forest Park

Galloway Forest ParkSituated in the heart of Galloway, southern Scotland, the Galloway Forest Park managed by Forestry Commission Scotland offers spectacular views and a diversity of dramatic scenery. Three hundred square miles of wild beauty are waiting to be explored, here, in Britain’s largest forest park.

Established in 1947; the park boasts tranquil valleys encompassed by heather-clad hills, rugged rock faces, burns cascading down majestic slopes and the forest, moorland and lochs rising up to the grandeur of the mountains. The Merrick, Mulwharcher and the Rhinns of Kells stand proudly above the home to much of the unspoiled, ancient woodland which attracts some 800,000 visitors every year.

Stretching from seashore to mountaintops, Galloway Forest Park has an outstanding variety of wildlife. Red and Roe Deer thrive in this woodland park while mighty birds of prey patrol the skies.

This natural sanctuary is, however, easily accessible as a result of three Forestry Commission visitor centres at Glentrool, Kirroughtree, and Clatteringshaws, which receive around 150,000 visitors annually.

Known affectionately as the “highlands of the lowlands”, the Galloway Forest Park offers an endless assortment of things to see and do, to suit everyone, in some of the most breathtaking scenery Scotland has to offer.

Dark Skies Park

Galloway Forest Dark Sky ParkDue to its remoteness, the Galloway Forest Park has been awarded the status of being one of only four “Dark Sky Parks” in the western world, along with the Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah and Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania.  This means that the largest forest park in Scotland has become the only Dark Sky Park in the UK, causing double celebration amongst astronomers, as 2009 also marked the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s astronomical discovery of the telescope.

Once the sun sets on the three hundred square miles of rugged wilderness that is the Galloway Forest Park, under an inky-blue sky they become the darkest in all of Europe. It is here that enthusiasts come to stand in awe, wonder, and amazement at the vast universe which is revealed above them. Onlookers are given the rare chance to witness shooting stars; the Andromeda Galaxy, the Aurora Borealis and stellar nurseries, where new suns of distant planets are born.

The dark skies of the Galloway National Park allow man to be able to view the vast expanse of the universe, from Earth. Being able to view the twinkling star-studded sky is a uniquely human pleasure, that if we are not careful, may slip from our grasp in most parts of the world due to increasing light pollution. The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) has set up this award in high hopes to reduce light pollution, as unnecessary amounts are leaking and hiding the raw beauty of the night sky and it is this that is having harmful effects on both wildlife and humans.