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Crossmichael :
Its Setting, History and Attractions

Introduction ...

Crossmichael is about four miles north of Castle Douglas on the A713. The Church of St. Michael in this small village was once connected with the Gordons of Kenmure, a family linked to the legendary 'Young Lochinvar'. The village has developed from a small farming community into a peaceful base for touring the Galloway Forest Park and the other attractions of this unspoilt part of Kirkcudbrightshire. Visitors can sail from the marina on Loch Ken, fish locally, tour the hills and forests of the Galloway Forest Park and yet be in easy reach of the towns of Ayr and Dumfries.

A Turbulent Past...

In 1164, the Priory of Lincluden was endowed with Crossmichael Parish by Uchtred son of Fergus of Galloway. Princess Devorguilla - The 'Queen of the South' - later transferred Crossmichael in 1275 to her new foundation of Sweetheart Abbey, an act confirmed by a Bishop Simon of Galloway in 1331. This remained until in 1587 the Abbey was annexed by the Crown, and the Barony of Crossmichael granted by a charter of King James VI of Scotland in 1611 to Sir Robert Gordon of Kenmure. The church bell was made in 1611 and the unusual round tower may have been added in the same year to the old church, which was rebuilt in 1731. The Church was enlarged between 1783 and 1790, but remained as it was until the 1963 addition of a vestry and the 1971 construction of a porch and stair housing.

The churchyard has a number of interesting tombstones. The earliest is from 1547, to Randolph Ross. The 1843 Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Rev. David Walsh, is buried near the Church, also Rev. Andrew Dick - who died at the start of his sermon - and Rev. John Murdoch who died in 1701.

Covenanting times left their mark; the simple tombstone to William Graham, shot by Claverhouse's Dragoons in 1682, is possibly of most interest to visitors. The saddest memorial is possibly that of four brothers of the Mclellan family, killed in the 1914-1918 war; the memorial tablets are near the pulpit.

The Galloway Hydros...

During the 1920s it was decided to construct the eight dams and six hydroelectric power stations of this scheme, although work took time to start because of legal arguments and compensation. The project was finished in 1935 after three years' work, supplying 103 Megawatts of electric power. There was a slight enlargement in 1985 to add the sixth and smallest station with a further 2.2 Megawatts. Although modest by the standards of modern coal-burning and nuclear stations (rated around 800 - 1,000 Megawatts), the scheme can nevertheless provide a third of the electrical power needed by Dumfries and Galloway. Its main modern advantage is that it can start up and close down very rapidly, perfect for providing power at daily morning and evening 'peak' consumption times.

The main power station at Tongland offers summer-time tours of the hydro-electric station, dam and fish-ladder there. Further north, visitors can visit the impressive dam and reservoir at Clatteringshaws, an easy drive from the Thistle Inn. The northernmost reservoir at Loch Doon offers further opportunities for those touring the Galloway Forest Park.

Loch Ken...

The Loch was raised in height by about four feet by a barrage at Glenlochar, which is not as impressive as the other dams but holds most of the water for Tongland Power Station. To the west of Loch Ken are New Galloway, Mossdale and Laurieston, each with their own charm. The Raiders' Road from Mossdale to Clatteringshaws is excellent value as a summer tour. Between Mossdale and New Galloway, Kenmure Castle ruins stand beside the Loch, on a site held as a stronghold by the MacFergus family and the Gordons. The tale of 'Young Lochinvar' invented by Sir Walter Scott is generally associated with the Gordons of Kenmure.
Fishing from the side of the Loch is a common weekend pastime for many local anglers, the pike fishing being especially good.
To the east of the Loch, the road from Castle Douglas to Ayr passes through Crossmichael itself (with its own marina), going north through Parton (with two boat marinas) and up to St. Johns Town of Dalry before heading up over the Carsphairns towards Ayrshire.

Kite Sculpture, Mossdale

Secret Cages, Mossdale

The Red Kite Trail...

The Thistle Inn is proud to be a sponsor of the Galloway Red Kite Trail set up around Loch Ken and opened on Monday 6th October 2003 by the Scottish Minister MSP Sarah Byack. Red Kites are being re-introduced into Galloway after a century of absence. Visitors are asked to look out for these beautiful birds, as well as for their smaller cousins, the Buzzards, Falcons, Kestrels and Sparrowhawks. Kites do not hunt live prey, but are scavengers, eating carrion from dead animals. Unfortunately, this truth has not stopped some from being killed with poisoned bait, an offence punishable with imprisonment. Visitors are asked to be alert for suspicious items such as animals killed and left with poison or by traps and to report such finds to the Police.

Centred in Mossdale, but with pathways and tracks linking a Nature Reserve, release cages and Information Points, the Red Kite Trail covers the area over which these beautiful birds were released and within which it is hoped that they will breed. During summer, parts of the Raiders' Road tourist drive and the Clatteringshaws Museum, will be used to provide more information and the means of seeing more Red Kites. A feeding point at Bellymack Farm may offer the best vantage point for sightings.

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