The Galloway Red Kite Trail is an exciting nature watching opportunity to view spectacular red kites in lovely scenery. The ‘Galloway Kite Trail’, situated around beautiful Loch Ken promotes the population of kites, recently re-established in Kirkcudbrightshire, and stimulates nature-based tourism to benefit local communities in the area. In so doing, the trail helps to strengthen the ‘ownership’ of the kites by local communities and tourist operators.
The trail is an anticlockwise route of some twenty four miles around Loch Ken (winter) with an additional sixteen miles of forest drive (summer only). You can collect a trail guide leaflet at business outlets on the trail or download the leaflet here. Cycling is a great way to spot red kites and the trail follows a fairly level route, with cycle racks provided at Boat O Rhone, New Galloway, Ken Dee Marshes and Mossdale. The west side of Loch Ken is particularly quiet and attractive for cyclists. It is also visited by families, walkers, wildlife lovers and birdwatchers from across the UK and overseas.
There are viewing points with interpretation boards; several walks,(from a few hundred metres to 5km); viewing hides; a feeding station; information boards in various outlets around Loch Ken; independent visitor centres; and even two red kite sculptures! (at Parton and Mossdale).
The trail is signposted with brown road signs in an anticlockwise direction and there are information points at Castle Douglas, Crossmichael, Parton and New Galloway, for additional guidance en route.
A feeding station, with visitor centre is present at Bellymack Hill Farm near Laurieston, and over 100 kites have often been seen together around feeding time (2pm). These now include very few of the birds released between 2001 and 2005, as well as birds fledged in Galloway, with the odd visitor from elsewhere. Please note that there are no road signs for the feeding station, so it is best to follow directions for ‘Laurieston’.
For a taster of the feeding spectacle at this farm, click on the red kite above for a link to YouTube and fantastic footage courtesy of Peter Hines
Other places to enjoy wildlife in Dumfries & Galloway
As part of the Connecting Communities With Wildlife project, RSPB Scotland have produced a practical viewing guide to help trail visitors discover and learn about other excellent wildlife in this part of Scotland, from Langholm in the east, to the Rhins of Galloway in the west. These manuals can be found at various business outlets and visitor centres around the trail but if you would like to print a copy of your own, please click on the icon here.