The Balloch Wood Community Project is an initiative seeking to manage and use Balloch Wood for the benefit of the local community.
The Project arose from an approach by Forestry Commission Scotland to develop the 67 hectares of Balloch Wood as a Community asset in 2001. The response from the local community was immediate and positive – over 60 people attended the first public meeting to discuss the idea. A particular wish was expressed for the informal paths within the woodland to be upgraded to a proper standard to allow their use by a much wider range of people.
The involvement and interest of the community from the start has been central to the success of the project. After further consultation it was decided to go ahead with developing the woodland as a recreational resource for the benefit of local people and visitors alike. Subsequently a steering group from the community was set up and the Balloch Wood Community Project was established. And, as of 5th July 2016, Balloch Wood Community Project established itself as a charitable organisation-now officially recognised as, Balloch Wood Community Venture SCO46678.
Together with the Forestry Commission a 25 year management agreement was put together and since then work has gathered apace to turn the woodland into the community and tourist resource which it is today.
More recently, the Balloch Wood Community Project has benefited from being one of a linked programme of 21 diverse projects involved in the Sulwath Connections Landscape Project: a Dumfries and Galloway Council led scheme to enhance and promote the landscape, cultural heritage and biodiversity of the Solway Coast and River Valley area, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Together these different partnerships have achieved a huge amount. Four woodland walks have been developed with routes to suit walkers of all abilities and ages including an all abilities trail and ideas for routes outwards into the surrounding hills.
In the centre of the woodland a wooden roundhouse has been built using traditional techniques to provide shelter and to serve as an interpretation centre, accompanied by further interpretation and seating points through the woodland.
The interpretation centre is located beside the wildlife ponds– rediscovered and redeveloped at the site of the historic curling ponds.
At the southern end of the forest near the Creetown entrance, a granite stone circle inscribed with haiku poems written by local schoolchildren and local iconography is one of the first features to welcome visitors to the woodland.
At the northern end of the forest a new bridge has been built over the Balloch Burn and boardwalks have been provided to enable the visitor to enjoy the views which open up higher up the woodland over the local hills and the Cree estuary….
A wide range of partners and friends have been invaluable in achieving everything so far.
List of Partners & Friends who have been involved..