Castle Loch Community Trust (CLLCT) purchased Castle Loch and the surrounding SSSI in 2014. The catchment area for Trust Members is Templand, Lochmaben and the Royal Four Towns, all of which were canvassed for interest in a community purchase of the site. Anyone from those districts can become a member of the Trust – it costs nothing but does show local support and is invaluable when applying for funds. CLLCT is now a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SC 044045).
Funding for the purchase came from the Scottish Lottery Fund (Big Lottery) and the Trust is now run by a Board of Trustees, consisting of ten volunteers from the area, all with a specific interest in CLLCT.
Volunteers meet on the first Saturday and third Thursday of each month to undertake various ‘hands on’ work, which could be anything from maintaining footpaths, invasive species control (e.g. rhododendron) or cleaning Lochfield Cottage. Volunteers bake for special events, such as the opening of the new footpath and fund-raising activities, and, of course, they help at these events.
The new footpath, funded by Leader, enables people to walk all around the loch, a distance of about 3 miles, and although some parts still require improvement, is mainly accessible by all users, including pushchairs and wheelchairs.
Walkers are asked to keep to the footpaths to prevent disturbance to wildlife, as the site has several conservation designations in addition to being a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The water attracts many species of waterfowl and is much observed by bird-watchers, and in the surrounding woodlands birds and red squirrels can be seen. There is a good variety of wild flowers in the woods and grasslands.
Castle Loch is used by Annandale Sailing Club, kayakers and fishermen. The loch itself has a sanctuary zone in the south-west bay so that birds are not disturbed in the reed beds, and the only motorised boats allowed on the water are the sailing club’s safety boats and the water bailiffs’ boats.
If you haven’t already been – do take a walk around the loch – and/or become a member or volunteer!
You will find more information about Castle Loch on the website – see the link above.