The Galloway Red Kite Trail is an exhilarating birdwatching opportunity to view spectacular Red Kites in breathtaking scenery and is now attracting the attention of walkers, cyclists, wildlife lovers and birdwatchers in Dumfries and Galloway and from much further afield.
The 'Galloway Kite Trail' is situated around the peaceful water of Loch Ken and promotes the population of kites, recently re-established in Kirkcudbrightshire, as a source of nature-based tourism to benefit local communities in the area. In doing so, the trail is helping to strengthen the 'ownership' of the Kites by local communities and tourist operators.
The trail is an anticlockwise route which consists of twenty four miles around the loch (winter) with an additional fourteen miles of forest drive (summer only). Cycling is a great way to spot red kites especially for the energetic, yet it’s a reasonably levelled route, with cycle racks provided at Boat O Rhone, New Galloway and Mossdale. The west side of Loch Ken is particularly quiet and attractive for cyclists.
There are six outdoor viewing points with interpretation boards; nine walks, (including a short path to feeding station); four hides; one feeding station; one visitor centre with CCTV screen, (summer only); eleven unique information boards in business premises around Loch Ken and Castle Douglas; road signs and two red kite sculptures, (at Parton and Mossdale). Four information shelters have been built around the trail and at Castle Douglas to provide information on the Trail, red kites and other aspects about the local area.
A feeding station with a hide has been established at Bellymack Hill Farm near Laurieston, and over 30 kites have often been seen together over winter months. These have included many of the birds which were released in 2003, as well as adult birds and two individuals that have arrived from other populations. The site also offers good views of raven and buzzard. Large numbers of kites are best seen in late afternoon in the winter months, but there are generally some kites around all day at any time of the year.
In April 2007 the Sulwath Connections Landscape Partnership Project through a partnership between The Heritage Lottery Fund, RSPB, Dumfries & Galloway Council and Scottish Natural Heritage has funded a full time Galloway Kite Trail Community Liaison Officer for three years; it has also funded the creation of new information points and interpretation in villages around the trail; and the creation of an audio guide and leaflet. It is only through this partnership approach with local communities and businesses that the Galloway Kite Trail has been able to go from strength to strength.