Galloway Glens Projects taking shape

The Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme is a Heritage Lottery Funded scheme taking place up and down the Ken and Dee river catchment, from Carsphairn in the North to Kirkcudbright in the South. £2.7million has been provisionally secured from HLF to be spent on projects across the area that ‘connect people to their cultural, built and natural heritage’.

The Galloway Glens Scheme is now over half way through the development phase and the list of projects under consideration is starting to take shape.

McNabb Laurie, the Scheme’s Development Officer, clarified: “We are planning our 5 years of project activity, expected to run from 2018-2023. Projects supported will either come as a result of studies commissioned by the Scheme, all currently underway and approaching completion, or from project ideas that have been submitted by people and groups up and down the valley.”

These project ideas are starting to take shape and the Scheme has categorised these under a range of headings. The following represents only a flavour of the proposals being developed:

Accessing the Galloway Glens We have a range of individual access projects under development, including proposals on Forrest Estate to improve access up Corserine, footpath improvements around Castle Douglas, helping you get out to Threave estate and opening up routes around Kirkcudbright Bay. These projects will hopefully be added to by the results of the Access Audit currently underway.

Wildlife & Habitats of the Galloway Glens This includes support for the Glenkens Red Squirrel Group and RSPB, improvements at Threave Nature Reserve, Habitat improvements along the Black Water of Dee to support the fish in the river, community woodland projects in Kirkcudbright and Carsphairn. These projects will hopefully be supplemented by the results of the study looking to reintroduce Arctic Charr into Loch Grannoch, the Natural Flood Management opportunities study and the Loch ken Fishery Study, all currently underway.

Education in the Galloway Glens The Scheme will run a comprehensive education & training programme through the delivery stage, with content aimed at all ages and locations in the valley. Particular projects under development include demonstrations of Galloway drystone dyking techniques, highlighting the work done by local peatlands and how they can be supported and workshops teaching people about the local environment. The Board of the Galloway Glens are making the training up of local young people in employable skills a focus of the Scheme, aiming to support anyone who wants to be able to stay in the area as they grow up.

Heritage Hubs Projects under this heading include improvements to Parton Church to highlight James Clerk Maxwell’s achievements and legacy, Pop-up heritage centres in Crossmichael and Dalry and improvements to the Balmaclellan Smiddy and Kirkcudbright Tolbooth museum.

McNabb added, “Feedback was clear: Don’t build anything new, but make better use of what we have already got. We are absolutely taking this on board and hopefully the ‘heritage hub’ projects can, without losing their individual identities, be worked together to create trails and will be even greater than the sum of their parts”.

Visiting the Galloway Glens A large focus of the Scheme will be to support visitor facilities, in turn supporting the local economy. Projects under development include a cycling/driving tour of the valley, including an app, to highlight historical and contemporary features such as the archaeology of the area and the hydro scheme. Also the scheme is part of the discussions surrounding the Kirkcudbright Dark Sky Visitor Centre proposal, and looking to develop Loch Ken as a ‘destination’ with a range of attractions and activities.

Understanding the Galloway Glens We have already learned so much about the area and the Scheme is working on a number of proposals that could develop this further. This includes a community archaeology project, letting people try their hand at ‘dig’ skills and also gaining a better understanding of pre-ordnance survey maps of the area and place names in use up and down the valley.

McNabb added, “Projects will be developed over the next six months, with other suggestions still in the pipeline. We will be combining this project work with the outputs of our Landscape Character Assessment which is currently underway. This is being led by Northlight Heritage and people may have seen the Sights & Sites branded events taking place. These will help us submit a really detailed proposal to HLF outlining what makes the local area special and how the projects we are proposing will support the local landscape. We hope to release the full project list shortly. ”

This development phase has been primarily funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which was provisionally secured by a number of partners, including Dumfries & Galloway Council. Councillor Colin Smyth, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee this week met with McNabb this week to review progress in the scheme .

Councillor Smyth said, “It is great to see the project listing start to come together. This is the result of a massive amount of community consultation and engagement up and down the valley. I understand more than 130 people attended the first round of ‘Sights & Sites’ events, giving their own personal views on what they think makes the landscape special, many thanks to everyone who has got involved. The scheme is aiming to give a genuine boost to the area, benefitting visitors and locals alike”.

“The work that has been done to date shows how worthwhile the vision from council staff was when they began this whole process and I am really looking forward to seeing the final funding secured and the projects being developed on the ground” .

Photo: Clatteringshaws, Courtesy: Stuart Littlewood