Wild Routes

Bird Hide Heaven

Bird Hide Heaven


This itinerary links several opportunities for bird- (and squirrel) spotting in the east of Dumfries and Galloway.  Three nature reserves with traditional bird hides sit close to each other between Lochmaben and Lockerbie while, further east, the moors around Langholm offer a more outdoor viewing experience.

The core of the Bird Hide Heaven itinerary, between Lockerbie, Lochmaben and Applegarthtown, is a triangle involving only about 12 miles of travelling between them by road while the extension to Langholm involves another 20 miles – see map.

Moffat Community Nature Reserve, 13 miles north of Lochmaben (See also The Wild North Route) offers similar wildlife viewing facilities and is an optional extension to this route.    

The itinerary can easily be covered in a day but why not make this, and the other attractions in the area, the focus for a two-centre break?

The Itinerary

The tour can undertaken in any order but the following description starts from Lockerbie.

From the car park for Dryfesdale Cemetery, on the western edge of Lockerbie, cross the road for the entrance to Eskrigg Nature Reserve.  This community-managed reserve was built around a former curling pond and boasts a range of woodland and wetland bird species as well as a small population of red squirrels which are usually visible on and around the feeders bordering the pond.  It has well-maintained, accessible paths and boasts one of the more luxurious bird hides in Scotland!

3 miles west on the A709 is Castle Loch, a local nature reserve used for a range of leisure activities.  The B7020, on the western edge of the loch, links a number of access points for walkers wishing to circle the loch on foot while, to the south, the ruins of a former castle of Edward 1 provide the starting point for short stroll along a raised boardwalk  to a pair of lochside hides.  Visitors can normally spot swans, geese and various species of duck on the water against the backdrop of sailing boats in the middle distance and Lochmaben town centre on the far shore.

The wildlife sanctuary at Applegarthtown is in an altogether more secluded spot, reached on minor roads off the B7020 to the north of Lochmaben (follow signposts to Millhousebridge).  The sanctuary, an area of flooded former wasteland, can especially reward a visit in the early evening when the local populations of sand martins and black-headed gulls fill the air with activity.

Return to the A709 just west of the Eskrigg reserve and continue past it, through Lockerbie town centre and over the railway, following the B7068 to Langholm.  This roughly 40 minute journey is a scenic drive in itself, over miles of barren moorland, descending finally into the woodland of the Wauchope valley and entering Langholm town centre where the road crosses the Esk and joins the A7.

Turn left to reach the riverside car park where visitor information boards will help you to get your bearings and to see the gulls and ducks competing for food on the riverbank.   Just north of the car park a road, signposted Newcastleton, breaks right and climbs steeply onto the local moorland.  Less than a mile further on, beneath the rusting red memorial to the poet, Hugh MacDiarmid, is a layby with information about the local wildlife.  A path starts from here for the prominent Malcolm Monument on Whita Hill.

Less than half a mile further east, overlooking the vast moorland landscape  of the Tarras Valley, are a series of smaller laybys from which it is possible to view hen harriers during their courtship displays in spring and while hunting for food through to mid-summer.

Return through the centre of Langholm and continue south on the A7 to Skipper Bridge.  At the traffic lights take the left fork and continue south, bordering the river Esk, for about a mile and a half to a left turn for Broomholmshiels.   A bird feeding station has been set up by the Making the Most of Moorlands Project in plantation woodland on the edge of the moorland, about 400 metres past the track for Broomholmshiels Farm, affording close up views of a range of local woodland species, from tits and linnets to woodpeckers.

As an alternative to driving, follow one of the Langholm walks from the southern edge of town and make the bird feeding station as an end goal – Walk 7, Jenny Noble’s Gill, takes in Broomholmshiels while Walk 10, around Whita Hill, includes both Broomholmshiels and the hen harrier viewing platforms to the north.


Williamwood Farm Holiday Cottages

4 comfortable, cosy and well-appointed self-catering cottages, with Nature and the farm on your doorstep.   Free-range eggs and logs from the farm. The opportunity to help, if you wish, on the farm. Riding experiences. Daytime kennelling and stabling facilities if you want to bring your dog or your horse.

Contact Michael and Shirley Clarke

Tel: (Daytime) 07833 627849 / (Home) 01461 500213



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