As well as a brilliant selection of mountain bike trails, it’s also a fantastic place to watch wildlife. A wonderful variety of woodland birds make regular visits to the bird feeders, and red squirrels and roe deer like to spend time in the woods around the centre. If you’re there early in the morning, or as the day turns to twilight, you’re in with a good chance of spotting them.
One of the highlights at Glentrool is the mountain garden that has been established at the centre in order to protect and breed from some rare species of trees that grow high on the hillside at the edges of the woods. These wee trees might not look very exciting, but they are an important leftover of the rare mountain woodland that deserves to be preserved. Look out for junipers and a variety of mountain willows.
The Giant Axe Head
Known for its Stone Age past, the unique stone sculpture, or ‘stane’, at Glentrool tells of legends of Scottish and Irish giants throwing objects at each other. The Giant Axe Head, a 1.5 ton sculpture which overlooks Loch Dee, closely resembles the actual Neolithic stone axes. See if you can decipher the runic text inscribed onto its top surface.
The stanes that give the 7 Stanes locations their name are found in prominent locations on the trails in the forests, accessible by foot and bike.
Dark Sky Park
Scotland has some of the darkest skies in Europe, and The Galloway Forest Park has been designated by the International Dark-Sky Association as only the fourth Dark Sky Park in the World, and the first in the UK, since 2009. Glentrool is home to one of the three visitor centres where you can enjoy the spectacular night sky, and the information panels will help you spot the stars.
There is a café for refreshments, which is open 10.30am – 4.30pm seven days a week, as well as toilet facilities for visitors. Please be aware that car parking charges apply.
Getting to Glentrool 7 Stanes
The turning for Glentrool Visitor Centre is signposted from the unclassified road that passes north from Glentrool village. DG8 6SZ is the nearest postcode if you are using SatNav.
(Trail information: Forestry Commission Scotland)