Cally Woods and Deer Park project

Over the last eight years the Gatehouse Development Initiative (GDI) has undertaken a number of projects to enhance the Designed Landscape of Cally to make the whole area more attractive to visitors and locals alike. Projects have included the repair of boundary walls, the conservation of the old school at Cally Lake and the conservation of the Temple.

Thanks to an award of £8000 from Tesco Bags of Help, the GDI has been able to undertake an ambitious project to carry out further restoration of the Cally walls, including prominent walls in areas which had not yet seen restoration work. The Fleet Valley National Scenic Area volunteers have spent several weeks clearing walls of ivy and fallen timber; the Forestry Commission has cut and cleared a number of trees which were threatening some of the walls and a professional dyker has been working to restore the walls. He is also leading a number of training days where the volunteers have been learning the skill of dry stone dyking. A series of information panels on the history of the dry stone tradition in the Gatehouse area is being prepared for display at the Mill on the Fleet.

The old wall in Cally woods

An old moss-covered wall snakes its way through Cally woods and crosses the white walk at two points. This wall once enclosed the cow park where the Murrays of Cally fattened beef for the English market. A section of this wall has been restored to show clearly where it crossed the White walk, which is well used by locals and visitors.

Rebuilding section of wall

Completed section of ancient wall



The sunken dyke

The sunken dyke is a unique feature of Cally Woods, built in the middle of a ditch and covered in turf. Part of this wall had been restored in earlier projects. Volunteers cleared the rest of the wall. The professional dyker then repaired the wall and the volunteers re-turfed the finished wall.

Sunken dyke before clearing and restoration

Completed wall before re-turfing

Re-turfing the wall

Volunteers at re-turfed wall


The Deer Park walls

The high walls along the track from Cally to Sandgreen are a reminder that they once enclosed a park where the Murray family kept fallow deer. Work has been undertaken to restore these walls and make the Deer Park area more attractive.

Dyker, Kevin, contemplates gap to be repaired

Felling tree threatening wall

Cheek at gate before repair

Cheek after repair


Orchard wall

The fine orchard wall, which leads from the Cally Cold Store to Belvedere lodge has become quite overgrown with ivy, rhododendron and other trees but is in generally good condition. The Fleet Valley volunteers have been busy clearing this wall to prevent it being destroyed by the encroaching rhododendrons and other vegetation and getting it ready for some small areas to be restored.

Volunteers ready for wall clearing

Clearing ivy


Other work

Over the summer the volunteers have been working on a project to evaluate the factor’s house which once stood in the Deer Park at Syllodioch

Busy digging

Ron and Jakob at work

Looking at features on an old map



Training days

The project has also offered an opportunity for volunteers to learn about the construction of dry stone walls and to play a part in rebuilding sections of the Cally Woods walls.



The Cally Woods and Deer Park project was placed second among local projects and thanks to the generosity of the Bags of Help project a further £2000 will be available for completing the project.


Gatehouse of Fleet in the Dark Ages

In 2012 an archaeological dig at Trusty's Hill, proved that the local fort had once been a major centre of Dark Ages Scotland.  Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, All Our Stories Programme, which helps communities to learn more about their past, the people of Gatehouse have been able to to build on the success of the dig, learn more about Trusty's Hill fort and pass on their knowledge to others.

Gatehouse people have learnt new archaeological skills; a large number heard a talk from the archaeologists who carried out the dig as part of the Galloway Picts project; they have been trained to become Trusty's Hill guides; over 60 people took part in a Gala Week walk to Trusty's Hill; and Gatehouse school children are also undertaking a Dark Ages related school project.  An exhibition Trusty's Hill: A Window on Dark Age Galloway tells the story of the site.

Use the links on the right to read the story of Trusty's Hill.


Guided Walk to Trusty's Hill


Produced by Rod Smaldon for the Gatehouse Development Initiative as part of the Heritage Lottery funded All Our Stories Gatehouse of Fleet in the Dark Ages project

Rheged: The Lost Kingdom

One of the most mysterious kingdoms of Dark Age Britain is Rheged, a lost kingdom, thought to be somewhere in south-west Scotland or north-west England but difficult to pin down, until now. With the archaeological discovery of a royal stronghold at Trusty’s Hill, there is now a body of archaeological evidence in Galloway for pre-eminent secular and ecclesiastical sites during the fifth to early seventh centuries AD, unmatched anywhere else in Scotland and northern England. This archaeological evidence corroborates the meagre historical evidence for Rheged, a kingdom that was at this time pre-eminent amongst the kingdoms of the north.

Read more...

The Pictish Carvings

Only two other Pictish carved stones are known outside Pictland and both are associated with royal strongholds of the sixth and seventh centuries AD. One of these, Din Eidyn, now Edinburgh Castle Rock, was the capital of the Gododdin, the Britons of south-east Scotland. The other royal site is Dunadd, the royal stronghold of the early Scots kingdom of Dalriada, in modern-day Argyll and Bute.

Read more...


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  • Memoria

    The Memoria Project is a Grundtvig Life Long Learning project bringing together communities from across the European Union to determine the potential of local cultural and non-material heritage to encourage more sustainable tourism. The project involves two communities from France and one each from Italy, Greece, Slovakia and the UK. Along with the Gatehouse Development Initiative the other partners come from a diverse range of communities. The project began in autumn 2012 and will end with a final report at the end of September 2014.

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