Balloch Wood is situated in an area rich in history for the visitor to explore.
In the area surrounding the forest there are remains dating back to Neolithic times.
Many round cairns and burial cists are to be found locally such as the chambered cairns at Cairnholy (c.3000BC), and dating from roughly 1000BC there is a standing stone circle on Glenquicken Moor just off the Corse of Slakes Road and a cinerary urn dating from the same era was found when excavating the Garrochar sandpit.
Hill top forts mark a time (c.300BC) when Celtic warriors invaded the area. More recently the area was a hotbed of Covenanting activity in the 17th century and caves on the nearby coast are reputed to have been used for smuggling in the 18th and 19th as related in Sir Walter Scott’s tale of Dirk Hatterick in his novel Guy Mannering.
In Creetown and the surrounding area a range of industries were developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which are central to the area’s history and the growth of the local population who found work in these industries. Especially important was the quarrying and shipping of high quality local granite. Many of these and other tales can be further explored in Creetown Heritage Museum, on the high street of Creetown village.
Balloch Wood itself, or Ballochanamour as it is called on some historical maps, also has a wide range of interesting historic and archaeological features for the visitor to explore, since the wood has long played an important role in the parish of Kirkmabreck.
While the exact age of the forest is hard to precisely determine, it has certainly existed since the mid eighteenth century if not before and there are several very old trees – notably a Beech Tree on the pond trail and a rowan near the ponds.
From the mid 18th century onwards a range of industries were also located in the woodland.
The Balloch Burn was central to many of these, including a waulk mill and a sawmill, but there was also a lead and shot business and a gravel and sand quarries within the boundaries of the wood. Remains of these industries, a farm steading and also some unidentified remains, can still be found today.
Moving further back in time, local legend has it that a chalybeate / red well was once an iron age mine for tool and weapon making, and it is further reputed that this same well was a medicinal or spa well in the 17th century. The well still exists and can be seen from the Burnside Trail.
In the mid nineteenth century curling ponds were dug at the site of a former sand / gravel quarry at the current location of the wildlife ponds. These were used in winter for curling up until the mid twentieth century. A curling hut was located in a similar location to the current Roundhouse.
More recently the wood has been managed by the Forestry Commission, who continued the cycle of planting and reharvesting adopted by previous owners. In recent times, however, they have adopted a low impact management regime, and worked with the local community to turn it into the resource which it is today.