Visit to Cairnsmore National Nature Reserve, Fleet Valley National Scenic Area, Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and Designed Landscape of Cally.

Gatehouse of Fleet is located in Fleet river valley. Within the valley there are areas protected by national and international designations. The purpose of the visits was to show the contribution of these designations to the preservation and protection of the natural heritage.
The group left for Cairnsmore National Nature Reserve where it was received by Peadar O’Connell of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). He explained the history of the reserve and the role of Scottish Natural Heritage. SNH try to both maintain and develop the natural habitat while at the same time, encouraging public access.
Then the group was received by Nic Coombey representative of Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain. He explained that one of the roles of the Biosphere is to encourage the maintenance of traditional skills in the Biosphere which in turn enhance the sense of place. Nic introduced the group to members of The Dry Stone Walling Association who were rebuilding a section of wall. Nic and Jim Scott, master craftsman, had participated in other European projects involving dry-stone wall building. Nic explained that The Dry Stone Walling Association promotes the maintenance of the skill in Dumfries and Galloway and organizes training courses. At the national level the association organizes competitions nationally.
Then the group went down the valley to Rusko Bridge where they were received by Galloway Fisheries Trust (GFT) an organization responsible for maintaining the quality of the rivers of Dumfries and Galloway. Jamie Ribbens and Neil Dalrymple explained the role of the organization. For many years the role of volunteers was limited but recently the role of volunteers has increased significantly and now the Fleet Valley Volunteers assist with a range of tasks including addressing the problem of invasive plants. The Trust then provided a demonstration of electro-fishing. Jacquie Graham, a biologist, explained the different species of fish caught. The technique is useful in assessing the quality of the water and helps GFT to evaluate the success of their work.
The group stopped off at Cally House, the home of the owners of the Cally Estate until the thirties when the house and policies were sold to the Forestry Commission. Cally is a designated Designed Landscape, a landscape transformed in the eighteenth century. The house is now a luxury country house hotel.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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