In July 2023 the UK Ambassador to UNESCO, Anna Nsubuga, visited the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere as part of our 10th Anniversary celebrations. The Ambassador and an international UNESCO delegation joined us for one-day tour of the region, stopping at some of the most important environmental and heritage sites in southwest Scotland. We’re proud to share the itinerary as inspiration for your own self-guided tour, whether you are exploring the GSA Biosphere, following Scotland’s UNESCO Trail, or journeying between some of the UK’s 58 UNESCO sites.
The Ambassador’s Tour is ideal for building a multi-day itinerary, or for incorporating bookable experiences with Biosphere Guides. It introduces the locations that best represent Galloway and Southern Ayrshire’s special designation, and the goals we share in common with UNESCO Biospheres all around the world.
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Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
Scotland’s National Bard was born in Alloway and farmed in Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire. Much of his work is characterised by connection with nature and reflection on rural life. The museum has interactive exhibitions and displays of historic manuscripts and artworks. The outdoor areas are managed in a nature-friendly way.
A Biosphere Certification Mark business at Girvan on the beautiful South Ayrshire coast. Ann Berry and her team offer bike hire for all ages and abilities, whether for a jaunt along the promenade or a full day in the saddle, and have won awards for inclusive tourism. Have fun and discover our great outdoors!
Adventure Carrick (ACE)
South Ayrshire’s centre for adventure and education holds the Biosphere Certification Mark for sustainability. Available activities include watersports, bushcraft, mountaineering, and much more, with holistic, wellbeing experiences for those seeking to connect mind, body and spirit.
Ochiltree & Coalfield Communities
East Ayrshire has a fascinating industrial past that is still visible in its dramatic landscape forms and alive in the memories of local people. Our Lugar Water and Heritage Walks will help you explore little known historic sites; afterwards, stop in the Biosphere Community of Ochiltree, with its cosy café hub.
The highest peak in southern Scotland, Merrick’s summit is 843 metres high. The mountain sits in ‘The Awful Hand’ range and is a popular challenge for experienced walkers. Merrick-Kells is one of our UNESCO Biosphere’s Core Areas – of the highest conservation value, and with a unique sense of place.
Bruce’s Stone and Loch Trool
The site where Robert the Bruce and his 300 soldiers ambushed a much larger English force in 1307, and which commands stunning views towards Merrick. Stroll trails through the valley’s oak woodlands, or join the Southern Upland Way on the south side of Loch Trool.
A sustainable community hub at the heart of a Biosphere Community. The Hive has a gallery and craft shop and hosts a year-round programme of events. Cycle hire is also available here. Glentrool is the only village in Galloway Forest Park and the perfect location for experiencing our Gold-Tier dark skies.
RSPB Crook of Baldoon
A coastal nature reserve where extensive habitat restoration is supporting wetland birds as well as flora, invertebrates and other wildlife. Enjoy natural soundscapes and the marvellous expanse of the Biosphere’s lowlands – look out for lapwings, golden plover, and the geese that visit in winter.
Wigtown Bay Nature Reserve
The largest Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in Britain, managed by our partners Dumfries & Galloway Council. The saltmarsh area is an important habitat for wetland birds. Wigtown Bay has a purpose-built hide for birdwatching, with fantastic views across the Biosphere’s marine environment.
This freshwater reservoir was created in the 1930s as part of the pioneering Galloway Hydro-Electric Scheme. Clatteringshaws is in easy reach if you’re walking or cycling along Raiders Road, and a perfect picnic stop when touring the Glenkens and further afield.
GCAT Watson Bird Trails
Artist Donald Watson (1918-2005) lived in St John’s Town of Dalry. He was a passionate nature-lover and particularly noted for his paintings of birds. The two walking trails provide a way to see and learn more about local species, while enjoying some of our most glorious Biosphere views.
Built by the first Duke of Queensberry in the 17th century, Drumlanrig Castle is one of the GSA Biosphere’s grandest visitor attractions! The estate covers more than 580 acres with landscaped gardens, waymarked walks and cycling routes. Drumlanrig hosted our Ambassadorial Reception at the culmination of the official tour.