Drumlanrig’s Bonnie Woods

It was back in 1967 when I really encountered the woods of Drumlanrig Estate for the first time. Having just left the school one day I started a job pruning trees on the estate the next. That was in the time of the present Duke’s father Duke Walter. I must have liked the rough and ready lifestyle of work in the forests for I stayed there for five years.

Drumlanrig was a very private place at that time and it is good that they have now opened up the place for access to the woodlands surrounding the castle and for public recreation. Nowadays the estate welcome walkers, bikers and wildlife watchers etc and during the season there is a ranger service providing local information and guided tours and walks to lesser known parts of this rather appealing estate.

These two short walks take in some of the finest and most interesting areas of woodland near to the adjoining the castle parklands. Staring from the Druids Loch (Drumlanrig Estate has several place names attached to these ancient priests and their archaic and sometimes sinister rites) a fine woodland walk on tracks and paths winds up through the forest to one of Drumlanrig’s most ornate summer houses. These houses were constructed well over a hundred years ago and even though I have made several enquiries on the estate I have yet to find out who built these shelters. This excellent slate roofed example has intricate birch inlay design outside and birch and heather rope inlaid designs inside. It is a truly exceptional example of rustic art and is well worthy of preservation.

Above this heather hut as we always called these buildings there is fine stand of giant Wellingtonia conifers. To the side of these enormous trees there is a flat elevated area known as the Mount Malloch Viewpoint. This now boasts a large sandstone bench bequeathed to one of the Buccleuch family from the estate tenants. The view from here out over the castle is one of the best on the whole estate. The return route follows the tracks and woodland paths, frequented by red squirrels, roe deer and retiring woodland birds like the green woodpecker, back to the Druid’ Loch.

Back at the Castle there is a short wildlife walk around past the Beech Loch taking in small wildlife hide. This is and excellent short walk in prime red squirrel terrain. Drumlanrig estate is a at the forefront in the struggle to protect these animals from territorial encroachment by foreign grey squirrels. There is also the chance to see great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch and other woodland birds and animals here.

There is plenty of signposting on this route and navigation should not be a problem. The Mount Malloch is a little over two miles long and the wildlife walk is slightly shorter.

The map for this area is Landranger Sheet 78

Dave McFadzean