Activities & Wildlife
Magnificent Nature Walks
Galloway has 25 designated scenic walks ranging from a gentle 2.5 mile to 12 miles in length. Each walk has distinctive features of natural interest. Seven of these walks are in the vicinity of the Balcary Bay Hotel and the Loch Mackie Walk, (3.7 miles (medium gradient), actually commences at the Hotel front gate.
As well as magnificent scenery, and thanks to the warmth of the Gulf stream, the walks have an abundance of local wild flora including; Oysterplant, Sea Asters, Sea Sandwort, Thrift, Sea Campion, English Stonecrop, Harebell, Gorse, Juniper, Bluebell, Wood anemone, Wood Sorrel, Cuckoo Flower, Yellow Iris, Heath Orchid, etc.
The walks also take in a wide range of trees from conifer forests to mixed species and the walks cover both coastal and freshwater habitats, woodland habitats, as well as Farm and Hillside habitats.
Bird Watchers Paradise
Galloway has a wide range of local and migratory birds including the Barnacle Geese that travel from the Arctic in October and leave Galloway in early April, estimated at about 25,000 birds each migration. Other local birds of interest include; Barn Owl, Black Tailed Godwit, Common Tern, Fulmar, Gannets, Grayling, Guillemot, Herring Gulls, Kittiwake, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Puffin, Razorbill, Red Kite, Shag, Shelduck, Whooper Swan, Yellowhammers, – even the hotel has its own pet Robin that often flies into Reception and sometimes into guest cars.
Of particular interest is the Red Kite Trail which has feeding stations to assist with viewing. The trail covers 24 miles around Loch Ken and covers 14 miles around the River Dee and Galloway Forest
Historic Castles, Museums & Colourful Gardens
Due to its historic importance of commanding the northern flank of the Irish Sea as well as Scottish internal power struggles the Galloway region has a large number of mediaeval castles, each with many tales to tell. Castles in the vicinity of the hotel include; Caerlaverock Castle, Cardoness Castle, Carsluith Castle, MacLellans Castle and Threave castle
Galloway has over 25 general and specialist museums. Nearby museums include; Stewartry Museum, Kirkcudbright, Dalbeattie Museum, The OldKirk Museum, Castle Douglas and Glencair Science Museum.
The most famous gardens and woodlands include;
- Logan Botanical Gardens
Scotland’s most exotic garden with flors from Australasia, South Africa, Central & South Americas
- Glenwhan Garden
Various habitats and lakes with spectacular views of Luce Bay and the Mull of Galloway
- Castle Kennedy Garden
75 acres of shrubberies with rare exotic plants, a 2 acre lake, 2 castles and a walled garden
- Dunskey Gardens
Woodlands, a Loch and Victorian glasshouses
- Ardwell Gardensc
Set in an eighteenth century country estate featuring Azaleas, Carmelias and Rhododendrons
- Galloway Forest Park
The largest forest park in the UK with over 300 sq. miles of stunning landscapes
- Logan House Garden
Victorian woodland garden featuring Champion trees and ancient shrubberies
- RSPB Mersehead Nature Reserve
Features migratory ducks and geese, Roe Der, Otters etc.
- Threave Estate
Features scenic woodlands and wetlands
Galloway has many varied woodlands including; Carstramon Wood, Cree Valley Woodlands, Drumlanrig Estate, Glentool, Mable Forest and Lochwood Oaks