Since way back in 2019 there has been a plan to build a hide in Cally Woods from which people could watch and photograph woodland wildlife near Gatehouse. Finally, this goal has been accomplished and the hide was opened on 10 November.
This project has been led by the Gatehouse Squirrel Group, and its members’ generous donations covered the cost of all the necessary materials. Kevin Hughes of Cally Gardens welcomed the idea of hosting the hide in woodland that he owns behind and above his celebrated walled garden: we are very grateful to him for this access. A few dedicated Squirrel Group members have built the hide itself, using recycled timber whenever possible. The tree canopy has been opened up and the understorey cleared in places by the National Scenic Area volunteer team and others. Kevin intends to plant a wide range of shrubs within view of the hide, to provide sources of food, such as wild fruits and nuts for red squirrels, as well as any passing badgers and foxes. This vegetation will also host more invertebrates to entice many songbird species into view, including the pied flycatcher, a stunning and rare summer visitor already nesting in the vicinity. Even the roof of the hide will be planted up by Kevin with ferns, bilberries and other species in due course!
Access to the hide has been encouraged by Forestry and Land Scotland as the custodians of the Cally Woods so many people enjoy visiting. There is no access to the hide via Cally Gardens. The shortest route to take starts at the car park next to the Horse Trail, about 500m along Cally Drive from the entrance lodge. From there, you should follow the new fingerpost signs until you reach the stone dyke which forms the boundary of the Cally Gardens property. Round the corner to the right, there is a gate through the dyke and a path up to the hide. Inside there are identification charts, a white board for recording your records, and even cushions to make your stay more comfortable! This is a lovely place to patiently spend some quiet time and just see what comes along.