The oak, birch, sycamore and beech that make up the woodland of Cally are relatively young, but they already make a fine forest of peaceful beauty.
In early spring there are splendid drifts of snowdrops, which is why Cally is part of Scotland’s annual snowdrop festival. Later in the year you can find primroses and bluebells, and watch for red squirrels, buzzards and treecreepers.
The woods were once the grounds and open parkland of Cally House, now the Cally Palace Hotel. The grounds were laid out as a designed landscape in the mid 18th century by the local landowner, James Murray of Broughton. The old walled garden is now home to Cally Gardens, a nursery dedicated to interesting and unusual plants: you can pass it on the Coronation Trail.
Wander through the deciduous woods along the Bush Burn to a 12th century stronghold at Cally Motte.
Firm gravel surface throughout with some slightly uneven sections. Includes some short steep slopes and two bridges 0.9m wide.
Allow ½ hours
Back in the 1100s, there was an Angle-Norman stronghold on the Motte. There are several mounds like this across Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders: they would have had a fortified tower on top, probably with enough space inside to shelter local villagers in times of trouble.
An enjoyable exploration of the Bush Burn and the varied woodland of the Cally Estate. Ash, oak, beech and sycamore all shelter a carpet of wonderful wild flowers.
Firm gravel surface throughout. Occasional section may be uneven or muddy. Includes several short steep slopes and two bridges.
Allow ¾ hours
The Bush Burn once drove a water-powered sawmill in the village in the 19th century.
A longer loop through bird-filled oak woods to the 18th century walled garden that used to supply fruit and vegetables for Cally House.
Firm gravel surface throughout with some slightly uneven sections. Some steep slopes. Includes two bridges and a gate. Look out for vehicles on the road to Cally Gardens.
Allow 1½ hours
If you'd like to explore Cally Woods on horseback, follow the waymarked Cally horse route. The 2 ½ mile route is lovely at all times of year and will take around an hour to ride. It has a mixture of firm, wide paths and narrow earth paths (some of which can get muddy after rain). Keep an eye out for local wildlife as you make your way around, from soaring buzzards to humble snowdrops.
If you'd like to explore further, you can follow the Cally Drive past Cally Palace Hotel, through Laundry Wood and Cally Mains Wood all the way to Sandgreen beach. Ordnance Survey maps Landranger 83: Newton Stewart & Kirkcudbright and Explorer 312: Kirkcudbright & Castle Douglas cover the forest and its surrounding area.
The National Cycle Route 7 passes through the forest.
The nearest public toilets, shops and cafès are in Gatehouse of Fleet.
The main entrance to Cally Woods is on the B727, a ¼ mile east of Gatehouse of Fleet. A car park can be found 100m beyond the gatehouse.
DG7 2DB is the nearest postcode.
There is a bus stop at the main entrance to Cally, served by buses to Gatehouse of Fleet. Plan your journey at Traveline Scotland.
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