Galloway Forest tourism project moves forward

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Forestry Commission Scotland’s multi-million pound project to improve forest visitor services in Galloway Forest Park aims to drive tourism to the region all year round.  The ambitious project will see a new visitor centre complex at Kirroughtree, a totally modernised centre at Clatteringshaws and an upgraded centre at Glentrool.

Last month the whole project received the green light from planners and now the project is gaining momentum with new operators joining forces with the Commission to provide services.

Keith Muir, Tourism Manager with Forestry Commission Scotland in Galloway said:“With planning permission granted, we have a fantastic opportunity to really sell Galloway Forest Park as a major tourism destination and draw visitors all year round to this most beautiful part of Scotland. 

“The new visitor services we have planned are a major step up in terms of what we will offer visitors in the future.  We started planning for the project three years ago and now the hard work to bring it to life begins.

“We’ve got a great team of operators on board who will work with us to create a brilliant atmosphere and top rate services.”

Sam Hill, who has successfully run The Breakpad bike shop at Kirroughtree for a number of years, will expand the business and include outdoor equipment.

Sam said:  “I am thrilled to continue our longstanding partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland.  The new visitor centre will allow us to extend The Breakpad offering and provide an even better biking and outdoor experience for our many customers.”

Catering across all the visitor centres sites will be managed by Churchill Catering, who will be taking over the current catering at Kirroughtree early in 2013.

Tony Nicholls, Managing Director of Churchill Catering added:  “We are delighted to have been chosen to manage catering at Galloway Forest Park.  As a successful family business, our 20 years experience of managing diverse and unique catering is a perfect fit for this exciting opportunity.

Robertson, the construction group, has been contracted to work with the Commission to oversee the building work associated with the visitor centre upgrades.  Robertson are acting as principal contractor for the project and are responsible for placing subcontracts to carry out the work.  As part of that role they have an obligation to ensure local spend targets are achieved.  Negotiations are ongoing to complete the contract details at this time, however, they currently expect to exceed their targets by 5% within a 25 mile radius, 10% within a 50mile radius and to meet their target for spend within a 75 mile radius.

Regional Managing Director for Robertson, Martin Smith, said,  “We’re extremely pleased to have secured this prestigious project which will significantly enhance the visitor experience at one of Forestry Commission Scotland’s most well-known visitor attractions.

“Robertson has established itself as a leading main contractor due to our ability to utilise expertise from across the group and our commitment to delivering projects on time and within budget.  During the course of this project we aim to further cement our reputation.  We look forward to seeing the results of Forestry Commission Scotland’s investment which will be a major boost for the Dumfries and Galloway tourism sector.”

The main attraction for the new project will be a brand new centre at Kirroughtree which is already very popular with families, walkers and bikers to the 7stanes mountain bike trails.

Set in landscaped grounds, the new modern centre will be very user friendly for all visitors wishing to venture to the forests or just wanting to visit a great location for a good cup of coffee.  There will be new showers, changing facilities and bike washes too making it an all year round attraction.  The centre will also benefit from ground floor heating from renewable sources and a wood burning stove to add additional heat and atmosphere.  With sustainability playing a key part of the project along with good building design and the use of timber and stone, Kirroughtree will be a site to be proud of. 

The existing Kirroughtree centre is to be retained and with some small renovations become an office and works department complex shared with other partner organisations.

Clatteringshaws will see a major refit with huge glass windows with good views out over Clatteringshaws loch and across in the core of the Dark Sky Park.  Glentrool’s centre will be more modest with an upgrade of the small centre and toilet facilities, keeping Glentrool an intimate and picturesque site for all to visit.

Notes to editors:
1) Attached photo is artist impression of new Kirroughtree visitor centre an artist impression of Clattershaws and Glentrool also available on request.

2) Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde.

3) Media enquiries to Diana McGowan, Communications, Forestry Commission Scotland, 0131 314 6162