Cairnsmore of Fleet National Nature Reserve

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Cairnsmore of Fleet National Nature Reserve

Cairnsmore of Fleet National Nature Reserve is one of the wildest and remotest corners of southwest Scotland. Dominated by an imposing granite hill, shaped and sculpted by the elements, the reserve offers a true taste of the Scottish wilderness. There are superb views over the Cree Estuary and vistas stretching back towards the Lake District, as well as out across to Ireland and north to Ayrshire.

Notable animal species: Golden Eagle, Black Grouse, Peregrine Falcon, Red Deer, Mountain Hare, Adder, Slow Worm, Large-heath Butterfly, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Golden Green Ground Beetle

Notable plant species: Heather, Blaeberry, Butterworth, Round-leaved Sundew, Bog Cotton, Sphagnum moss spp.

Best in: Spring and summer provide excellent opportunities to see Peregrine Falcons and Ravens as well as other birds such as the migrant Whinchat and Whitethroat and possibly even the odd Black Grouse and Golden Eagle. Butterflies and dragonflies are also common on the NNR and easily spotted on a nice sunny day. Come in early autumn to be greeted by a sea of purple as the heather blooms, offset by the rugged granite mountains. You may also hear the bellows of rutting red deer stags. If you want to experience how harsh this environment can be, come in winter where only the hardiest of species cling onto the crags and bogs. You may even be lucky enough to see a Hen Harrier silently hunting over the open ground.


The Cairnsmore of Fleet visitor centre is about 6 miles north of Gatehouse of Fleet and about 7 miles northeast of Creetown.   
There is also a path to the summit of Cairnsmore which starts from Palnure, just off the A75, about 3 miles southeast of Newton Stewart.  
Visitor Centre grid reference: NX554637
Visitor Centre postcode: DG7 2BP.
Latitude: 54.948314°
Longitude: -4.258799°

How to get there:

Visitor centre (by car): From Creetown take the B796, signposted, for 7 miles to Dromore Farm (turning onto the minor road after Gatehouse Station) where parking is available. From Gatehouse of Fleet, take the B796 to the former Gatehouse Station and after 6 miles turn right at the T junction. The car park is next to the visitor centre and is the start point for the trails.

Start of Cairnsmore summit path (by car): From Newton Stewart take the A75 southeast to Palnure. Take the first left after Palnure Burn Bridge to cross the Graddoch Burn then follow the signs to the car park.

By public transport: The nearest bus stops are at Palnure (0.9 miles), Creetown (5.1 miles) and Gatehouse of Fleet (5.7 miles) on the Newton Stewart - Gatehouse of Fleet route.

By bike/on foot: The Glen Trool to Gatehouse section of NCN Route 7 (Glasgow - Carlisle) passes the reserve. To take the summit path, leave the route on the Palnure side of the Graddoch Burn then follow the signs to the car park at Cairnsmore. Alternatively, leave the route at Gatehouse Station and follow the track to Dromore Farm. Bike racks are available at Dromore Farm. Walking, the Bargrennan to Craigenbay (Clatteringshaws) section of the Southern Upland Way (Portpatrick - Cocksburnpath) passes nearby the Reserve.


There are car parks at Dromore Farm, by the viaduct and at the beginning of the summit path walk.
A visitor centre with fully accessible toilet facilities and information about the NNR is located at Dromore Farm. The visitor centre also has information about the art pieces located around the NNR.
There are a number of walks around Dromore Farm, the viaduct and to the summit of Cairnsmore. Interpretation boards can be found on many of these routes.
There are a number of picnic benches around Dromore Farm and the viaduct.


Scottish Natural Heritage
Tel: 01387 272 440

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Site Map

Click map to enlarge image.

Click here to download map as pdf.
Clints of Dromore - photo by Lorne Gill
Cairnsmore of Fleet - photo by Lorne Gill
Cairnsmore of Fleet - photo by John Scott