‘The Galloway Glens Scheme : Using the area’s unique history to drive today’s economy’

Fifty members and guests attended Kirkcudbright History Society’s meeting on the 9th January to hear McNabb Laurie talk on the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme, now in the first year of its 5 year programme.

 

McNabb outlined the location of the scheme, focussed on the valleys of the Rivers Ken and Dee, linked by the chain of power stations forming the Galloway Hydro Power scheme, and extending from Carsphairn to Kirkcudbright. He then explained how the Galloway project was one of several similar Heritage Lottery funded landscape schemes currently underway in Scotland, all of which involve a multiple number of individual projects carried out by partner organisations. By coming under one managing body, individual projects can benefit from better linkage and co-ordination with other projects in the same scheme. Six broad programmes of work have been identified.

‘Understanding the Galloway Glens’ involves projects with the digitisation of historic estate maps from the area, as well as place-name research, oral history recording and a community archaeology programme. ‘Education and Skills’ embraces a range of opportunities from training in dry stone dyking to storytelling and writing in partnership with the Ken Words Festival. ‘Visiting the Glenkens’ includes projects which seek to support and develop tourism in the area, for example fishing and boating on Loch Ken, and the development of a mobile phone app for a driving trail provisionally titled ‘Dee Treasures’. Kirkcudbright Development Trust’s proposed Dark Skies Centre in Kirkcudbright’s Johnston School redevelopment project has also been identified as a partner project in this category. ‘Accessing the Galloway Glens’ is looking at ways of improving access, parking facilities, canoe trails and interpretation provision at various points from the Carsphairn uplands to Kirkcudbright Bay to encourage more use of our local outdoor assets. ‘Heritage Hubs’ will see the development of key interpretation and activity centres at strategic points along the scheme, from Dalry Town Hall, to the Old Smiddy, Balmaclellan, to Crossmichael Church and on to the Kirkcudbright Tolbooth, which historically played an important role in maintain law and order in the whole area. Finally ‘Natural Landscape’ covers a variety of improvement projects connecting our natural heritage, for example at the nature reserves at Kenmure Holms and at Threave Estate, as well as the recently opened Barrhill Wood red squirrel hide in Kirkcudbright, where project funding was granted to Kirkcudbright Development Trust.

McNabb went on to describe the project’s staffing structure and the project’s managing board. There is a very informative website – www.gallowayglens.org – and blog where current progress on a great variety of projects can be followed. The scheme is also now offering a Small Grants scheme where organisations within the scheme’s area can apply for funding for smaller projects which relate to the scheme’s overall objectives.

McNabb summarised the scheme as a 5 year programme of interconnected projects, which seeks to present the area’s human and natural heritage to highlight what makes the area special and use that to boost its economy for the widest benefit of the community. His talk generated considerable interest and the Society looks forward to hearing regular reports on the scheme’s progress over the next 5 years.                                                                          Feral goats on Corserine -Paul Goodwin