Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Caledonia64
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Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

Postby Caledonia64 » 8 Sep 2019, 3:03pm

I have long wanted to make a trip to Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park (ideally including the Scottish Observatory at/beside Loch Doon).
I am looking to find out the experiences of others. Obviously, a jaunt or expedition to a Dark Sky Park does not make sense between mid-April and mid/late - September because you want the earlier sunsets, but weather too a factor. And equally obviously many of the campsites close from late October to March.
Now there is a specific wild camping site next to Loch Doon, and wild camping is allowed generally in the park/area so you could cycle to any area around the suggested night viewing spots. There is also Glentrool Campsite in the Forest which suggests itself as a base with the poss of wild camping jaunts, since it is not particularly "close" to the observatory nor the viewing points (though what point having a base camp if you are cycle-camping I am not sure; on my own with a bike I might chose that optin but not on foot/with dogs/son). There are good national walking/cycling tracks through the forest, including a National Cycleway (I think) and the Southern Uplands footway (I'd take a trail/hardtail MTB if cycling but with a good selection of gears if taking luggage).
Has anyone (apart one review of Loch Doon pitch as awful) camped in Galloway Forest Park, and/or cycled the trails through the woods. The less remote accomodation, that is open in winter, is quite far from the stargazing locations (and not routes/distances I would feel comfortable tackling on foot or wheels in the dark. at night).

My son does not however cycle (cannot go a bike and believe me many years of trying to facilitate this), and it is a bit far to leave hiim his lone for.a long weekend, so it might be more low-grade walking with/without or dogs (who would not be allowed in the observatory I imagine, and, also as they are rescue hunting dogs,might need a great deal of vigilence after sundown to prevent them haring off (heh) after wildlife: maybe not accompanied by the dogs, then).

And of course, MiniGaff is no more.

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Cunobelin
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Re: Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

Postby Cunobelin » 8 Sep 2019, 7:16pm

I have spent a number of years following the Northern Lights, and have been successful (even if only a poor show om occasion)

However what I was told from. the start is that you do not make these things the main focus.

Accept that the weather may be cloudy all week, part of the week or none of the week then plane things that you can enjoy and make the holiday worthwhile even if you do not get the weather you need.

Caledonia64
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Re: Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

Postby Caledonia64 » 12 Sep 2019, 3:17pm

Cunobelin wrote:I have spent a number of years following the Northern Lights, and have been successful (even if only a poor show om occasion)

However what I was told from. the start is that you do not make these things the main focus.

I have a bad track record with the Northern Lights and other such things locally, though I have seen them several times randomly.

Accept that the weather may be cloudy all week, part of the week or none of the week then plane things that you can enjoy and make the holiday worthwhile even if you do not get the weather you need.



Oh I know that. I guess I am saying that I would not plan to go star gazing in Scotland between the end of April and the end of September given how late it stays light (though Galloway is much further south than 56.9ºN). But equally camping between the end of November and March in remote areas of Scotland are things to be thought through and not (maybe) foisted on a not very outdoorsy, sensory-issues son who has not camped much since he outgrew the child traiiler, apart this past summer with chums (his first wild camping which I think he maybe enjoyed less than he pretended to).

Obv. if he is with me (and/or the dogs), I won't be shifting the same distance, over a long weekend (or any time unit) inasmuch as getting from point to point (Glen Trool to Clatteringbridge/shaws to Loch Doon) as he does not cycle (and with the dogs I would have a trailer even if they were on foot...plus there are other rabbit factors to consider there).

I am realising that if on foot (walking) it would probably be a one/two stop thing: the observatory and Loch Doon plus (maybe) walking in further to wiild camp but not necessarily one of the other aforementioned locations. But more limited. In terms of the observatory, I have a dog-walking/sitting friend who lives down there who would accomodate the dogs for short outings/experiences.


I think Galloway Forest Park is too far away from home (not just miles/accessiibility/logistics) to go off on my newly rediscovered own and leave my son home alone. Apparently there is a Dark Skies Park closer to hand in GlenLivet/Tomintoul but that is possibly even more challenging to get to by self-propulsion and/or locomotives or by bus. Plus the ideal months factor.

carlislemike
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Re: Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

Postby carlislemike » 25 Sep 2019, 8:27am

A fascinating find on this website. Immediately struck how interesting it would be to visit for a couple of nights but access without the car wouldn’t be fun; means a train trip to Ayr as nearest mainline station. Getting to Ayr is a beggar from anywhere down South ie Watford and lower. Anyway, thanks for the heads up on the park and its Dark Skys.

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Graham
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Re: Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

Postby Graham » 25 Sep 2019, 9:33am

Is CarlisleMike an historic reference ??

From Carlisle, take a train ( with bicycle ) to Dumfries, then have a really nice ride over to Newton Stewart either on the NCN or any other quiet road that takes your fancy.

I'm not sure which buses also take bikes, but they is/was some capability to take bikes on buses in the area in order to provide a public transport method of getting bikes to the various 7Stanes of-road bike sites ( including Glen Trool ).
Either internet search or check with the Tourist Office in Dumfries.

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Paulatic
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Re: Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

Postby Paulatic » 25 Sep 2019, 10:16am

Bike bus https://www.dumgal.gov.uk/media/20311/5 ... 7602930000
It is a superb ride through just avoid the A75
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climo
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Re: Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

Postby climo » 27 Sep 2019, 1:47pm

carlislemike wrote:A fascinating find on this website. Immediately struck how interesting it would be to visit for a couple of nights but access without the car wouldn’t be fun; means a train trip to Ayr as nearest mainline station. Getting to Ayr is a beggar from anywhere down South ie Watford and lower. Anyway, thanks for the heads up on the park and its Dark Skys.

Go to the Salisbury Plain Army ranges east of Tilshead. Public access most of the time unlike the Imber range to the west. Rail at Salisbury and Warminster

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Sweep
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Re: Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park

Postby Sweep » 27 Sep 2019, 6:33pm

carlislemike wrote:A fascinating find on this website. Immediately struck how interesting it would be to visit for a couple of nights but access without the car wouldn’t be fun; means a train trip to Ayr as nearest mainline station. Getting to Ayr is a beggar from anywhere down South ie Watford and lower. Anyway, thanks for the heads up on the park and its Dark Skys.

Looks like a manageable pedal from, er carlisle.
If stranded in the south, suggest you mainline it to Leeds, then hop on the settle Carlisle line for one of the wonders of britain (despite its many ills northern rail is very accomodating With bikes) then pedal.
Thanks OP for highlighting this - wasn't aware of it at all - seems to have lots of ecstatic reviews online. If I go, will probably use settle carlisle liine.
Sweep