Wood of Cree

Habitat creation for beetles.

Habitat creation for beetles.

Wood of Cree & Barclye Farm

The Wood of Cree is an ancient woodland which has a history of intensive management.

Most of the oak trees show evidence of coppicing which started during the 17th century and continued until the mid 20th century.

The wood was virtually clear felled by 1920. Oak bark has been used locally in the tanning industry; timber was used in local furniture making, house building and bobbin construction for the former cotton industry at Gatehouse and also sent further afield.

Charcoal production took place by baking the oak poles in earth kilns and the site of these burning areas can still be seen within the woodland.

The wood is owned by the RSPB and is currently managed in partnership with CVCWT. The woodland management is targeted at returning it to high forest, enhancing its biodiversity, extending the area of broadleaf woodland habitat, and developing visitor access.

Occupies the high canopy of the oak woodland.

Purple hairstreak butterfly – occupies
the high canopy of the oak woodland.

Wild hyacinth (bluebells) produce a shimmer of blue and a heady scent during May. Woodland birds include spotted flycatcher, pied flycatcher, redstart and wood warbler, the latter a migrant from Africa which breeds in high densities during the summer months. Wetland birds include reed bunting, water rail, teal, goosander, goldeneye and whooper swan.

21 species of butterflies have been recorded on the site, including purple hairstreak and small pearl-bordered fritillary.

Bats are generally numerous and 6 species have been recorded.

There is a car park, woodland trails with interpretation and a viewing platform overlooking the river.


On-going Management

  • Wood of Cree waterfall.

    Wood of Cree waterfall.

    Thin dense areas of overcrowded coppice (5ha) between 2000-2005.

  • Maintain the area of grazed woodland (16ha)
  • Remove beech seedling, self-sown sitka and other non-native tree species.
  • Plant scattered groups of broadleaves where sitka has been removed, (6ha), encourage natural regeneration (11.9ha).
  • Control deer numbers to ensure natural regeneration and survival of young trees.
  • Initiate a bracken control scheme over accessible parts of the upland areas (9.5ha).
  • Maintain high water levels over the area of fen.
  • Maintain the rich fen area by weed wiping invading willow saplings.
  • Continue to graze riverside meadows, swamp and wooded pastures.
  • Graze or cut for hay 4ha of riverside meadow to provide conditions for breeding waders.
  • Maintain a disturbance-free zone along the river.
  • Mow areas of tall swamp to encourage greater usage by passage and wintering waders and wildfowl.
  • Maintain and monitor bat and bird boxes.
  • Monitor key species and changes due to management work.
  • Maintain visitor facilities, car park, viewing platform and 3km of trails with interpretative material.
  • Maintain roadside trees in a safe condition.
  • Maintain reserve infrastructure, stone walls, fences, gates.

Barclye Farm

Barclye Farm (371 hectares) was purchased by the RSPB following a successful appeal to its members.

The RSPB  aims to extend the oak woods of the Wood of  Cree, doubling them in size and forming a link with Knockman Wood, 1.6km to the south. The Wood of Cree is part of the wider Cree Valley Community Woodland Trust’s Project, whose aim is to create a Woodland Habitat Network within the Cree Valley from “source to sea”.

Cree Valley woodlands from Barclye

View of Cree Valley woodland
north from Barclye

The new link of Barclye will be achieved through planting of native broadleaved trees. The richest and most important wildlife areas of the farm have been identified and these will be maintained or improved, planting only the less biologically rich areas.

The farm has extensive prehistoric field boundaries, numerous ruins of buildings, burial cairns, a corn kiln and shielings. Consideration of these important archaeological features has been a key feature in the development of the planting plan.

A mosaic of habitats is to be created and 130 hectares have been identified for tree planting. Grazing management will continue over 231 hectares of open ground. The pasture woodland is to be extended and enhanced to 76 hectares. Wet grassland is to be managed and in some areas the water levels increased to provide open water, enhancing wildlife.

Barclye viewed from Challoch

Barclye east from Challoch

The elevated site offers fine views over the surrounding countryside and interpretation is to be provided of both the natural and cultural heritage.  A network of paths will  link Newton Stewart to Knockman Wood, the Wood of Cree and beyond; visitor facilities and education will be a key part of the project.  Local volunteers, community groups and schools are being encouraged to become involved.

This project is part of the Scottish Forest Alliance, a partnership between Forestry Commission for Scotland, Scottish Woodland Trust, RSPB, and BP.
The pasture woodland is supported through the Sulwath Connections Landscape Project which is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund with additional support from Scottish Natural Heritage. Planting of the main woodland blocks will also be supported via a Scottish Forestry Grant.