Interpretation Panel Installed On The Castle Douglas To Threave Footpath

In early 2020, the footpath between Castle Douglas and Threave, following the old route of the rail line, was widened and improved. The route now runs from the back of the Co-Op Car park as far as the Lamb Island Wildlife Hide, with a new wheel-chair friendly spur up onto the Threave Nature Reserve at Kelton Mains and a new stretch which provides a safe, off-road route to Bridge of Dee.


The footpath improvement project was led by the Galloway Glens Scheme, working closely with a range of partners including National Trust for Scotland and the Castle Douglas Development Forum. The work was funded through NatureScot’s Improving Public Access Scheme, with support from the Winifred Kennedy Trust, LandTrust and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. A launch event for the project had been proposed in March 2020, however this had to be cancelled due to the arrival of Covid-19.


After a two-year period, through which the path has experienced regimes of Covid-19 ‘appointed hour’ of exercise traffic and proved a vital local route, the interpretation panel has now finally been installed on the path behind the Co-Op Car park, highlighting the countryside destinations available on foot from the centre of Castle Douglas.


A driving force of the project was Alistair Livingston, local volunteer and history enthusiast who spearheaded the project at early stages. Alistair passed away in 2018 and the new interpretation panel recognises his work and his wish to provide a wheelchair-friendly route from the town. Alistair was represented at the unveiling of the Interpretation panel last week by his children Alistair and Callum, and his brother Kenny.

Callum said: “I like the sign and love the footpath. My big brother and I use it regularly, it is a fitting tribute to our dad”

Jonathan Barrett, Galloway Glens Land Management & Access Officer led on the path improvement project in 2019/20 and was delighted to see the interpretation panel unveiled, saying:

“The sign recognises the legacy of the town’s railway history and the efforts of the people and organisations who made this project possible. The path has proved hugely popular with visitors and local folk alike and gives people the opportunity to explore the walks, history and countryside around Castle Douglas which are one of the joys of living here.”  


In an innovative approach to path maintenance, the route is now maintained by the National Trust for Scotland team at Threave Estate, using a new mower bought especially for the task through the project. David Thompson, NTS Estate Manager for Dumfries & Galloway, said:

“I was lucky enough to know Alistair and he was my go-to man for all questions of local history. I think he would have been so happy to see the path improved and being so well used.”


Iain Howie, Vice-Chair of the Partnership Board of the Galloway Glens Scheme, said:

The new sign is a great reminder to everyone passing that while this might now be a peaceful walk, it used to be busy historic railway route in and out of the town. It also gives a great snapshot of the network of paths available and tells the story about how the project came about – including Alistair’s driving force for the work. I am so glad the path was installed when it was, acting as a vital outdoor resource during the Covid-19 lockdown.”


McNabb Laurie, Galloway Glens Team Leader added:

“Alistair was a great help to the Galloway Glens Scheme during our development phase and we shall always be grateful for his input. I suspect Alistair would have rather we had re-established the railway itself, but failing that, the footpath improvements are, I hope, a fitting return for his efforts on this project.”
I can’t not mention that the path improvements themselves were undertaken by a D&G firm, using aggregate from Dalbeattie, and the new Interpretation panel was made by a Dumfries company. The local economic benefit brings even more value to the project.”


The Galloway Glens Scheme seeks to ‘connect people to their heritage’ while boosting the local economy and supporting sustainable communities. It is an initiative of Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Environment Team, primarily funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund is a National lottery Heritage Fund and supported by a whole range of partners including the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere.

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