New paths at Barclye
The RSPB have now completed their path network on Barclye, the new extension to the Wood of Cree. They have created three trails which start from their new car park 1.25km (0.75 miles) south of the Wood of Cree car park. Two of the trails are contained within Barclye. The third, red marked trail takes you up through Barclye and enters Knockman Wood through the deer dyke which was built in 1824 when the Earl of Galloway created his 1500 acre deer park. After a brief walk through the edge of a young conifer crop, the path emerges into the light and climbs up to a pile of stones which marks the highest point in Knockman Wood at 221m (725 feet). This affords spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding hills with Newton Stewart below and Wigtown Bay beyond this. As the path weaves its way down the hill into the oakwoods, individual tree enclosures can be seen, built by FC volunteers. These will house oaks to replace dying trees, and hawthorns, the high level of browsing from fallow deer having suppressed natural regeneration of this species. These are valuable for invertebrates as explained in the interpretation panels along the path which describe the wildlife associated with this open `woodland pasture’-like area. The path joins with the main Knockman Wood circular path, and can be followed back to the Knockman Wood car park, returning to the car park for Barclye via the road, a round trip of approximately 5.5 miles (9km).
One of the specialist bird species of these open oakwoods is the redstart, a striking summer visitor which breeds here. Nest boxes specially designed to attract redstarts are being put up by CVCWT volunteers. The boxes have a slotted entrance hole to emulate a split in a hollow tree stump. Redstarts in different areas appear to have a preference for certain types of nest box. In other parts of the country, a tunnel shaped box which is strapped to the underside of a branch to act as a hollow branch have been successful.