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Woodland Trust buys Sutherland glen linked to Andrew Carnegie


By Caroline McMorran


A CONSERVATION charity has acquired a picturesque Sutherland glen beloved of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and his family at the turn of the last century.

The Woodland Trust announced last Friday it had purchased the Fairy Glen, a short valley near Spinningdale.

Running through the valley is the Spinningdale burn.

Woodland Trust site manager Ross Watson is delighted at the Carnegie connection.Picture: Lynda Simpson
Woodland Trust site manager Ross Watson is delighted at the Carnegie connection.Picture: Lynda Simpson

The charity already owns Ledmore and Migdale Woods, a 1730 acre area of woodlands lying around the hamlet.

It received funding from the Dunblane based Carman Family Foundation, to help with the Fairy Glen purchase.

The area is historically linked with millionaire industrialist Andrew Carnegie who bought the Skibo Estate and its Ledmore and Migdale Woods in 1897.

He would return with his family to spend summer holidays at Skibo until the outbreak of World War I

The Carnegies named their favourite woodland walk and picnic spot the Fairy Glen and in 1907 opened it to the public.

The Fairy Glen.Picture: WTML
The Fairy Glen.Picture: WTML

The occasion was marked with an inscription on a stone, reading "Fairy Glen, opened by Mr, Mrs and Miss Carnegie, 10th September 1907".

In Carnegie’s day,the walk was a fairly elaborate one, and involved crossing a number of bridges over Spinningdale burn. There was also a wooden cabin at the top of the walk.

After Carnegie’s death, visitors to the area – many from abroad – would walk up to the cabin. They were able to step onto the slate roof from the back and many scratched their names on the slates.

Woodland Trust Scotland purchased Ledmore and Midgale Woods in 1993.

It is one of the Trust’s largest sites, and its most northerly wood in the UK.

However, the the 2.5 hectare Fairy Glen remained in private ownership until the recently completed purchase.

The glen still has a path through it but only one bridge remains and it is a rebuilt one. Some foundations of the original bridges can be seen.

Little of the log cabin survives, but in 2014 the remains of the building were rediscovered by Carnegie’s great grand-daughter Margaret Thomson.

She went in search of it as part of a trust project to create a series of audio-visual presentations about the woodland.

Ms Thomson had not been to the site since she was a young girl, but she was able to lead volunteers to the location from what she could recall of the path leading to it.

Last week Ross Watson, the Woodland Trust’s site manager for the north of Scotland, and volunteers Jim and Saddhavati Mohahan, uncovered the commemorative stone, which was overgrown with moss and grass.

Mr Watson said he was delighted at the acquisition of the glen and also the historical connection.

He said: “This is a beautiful little glen with a charming burn tumbling through oakwoods dripping with mosses and ferns.

“It would be a lovely addition to Ledmore and Migdale on its woodland merits alone, but the Carnegie connection makes it all the more fitting.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of The Carman Family Foundation which enabled us to acquire this site.”

Andrew Carnegie’s “Fairy Glen” Acquired by Woodland Trust Scotland

Woodland Trust Scotland has purchased a favourite summer picnic spot of Andrew Carnegie.

The millionaire industrialist and philanthropist bought the Skibo Estate, and its Ledmore and Migdale woods in 1897 and would return with his family to spend summer holidays until the outbreak of the First World War.

The Carnegies named their favourite woodland walk and picnic spot “The Fairy Glen” and in 1907 opened it to the public.

A carved stone marking the occasion was uncovered by Woodland Trust Scotland volunteers Jim and Saddhavati Mohahan, and site manager Ross Watson last week. It had become overgrown with moss and grass.The stone reads:

FAIRY GLEN

Opened By

Mr, Mrs and Miss Carnegie

10th September 1907

The Glen has a path through it today, but once had a more elaborate route through including wooden footbridges across the burn.

Woodland Trust Scotland purchased Ledmore and Midgale in 1993.At nearly 700 hectares (1730 acres) it is one of the Trust’s largest sites, and its most northerly wood in the UK. The 2.5ha Fairy Glen remained in private ownership however, until the recently completed purchase.

Woodland Trust Scotland site manager Ross Watson said: “This is a beautiful little glen with a charming burn tumbling through oakwoods dripping with mosses and ferns. It would be a lovely addition to Ledmore and Migdale on its woodland merits alone, but the Carnegie connection makes it all the more fitting. We are extremely grateful for the support of The Carman Family Foundation which enabled us to acquire this site.



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