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Award-winning actress Dame Judi Dench dedicates a grove in the Highlands to loved ones


By Caroline McMorran

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Judi Dench selected a woodland grove in Sutherland for her dedication.
Judi Dench selected a woodland grove in Sutherland for her dedication.

One of the UK’s most famous and best loved actresses has dedicated a grove in a Sutherland wood to the people she loves.

Dame Judi Dench chose an area at Ledmore and Migdale Wood for her dedication through a scheme run by the Woodland Trust, which owns the wood.

The award winning thespian looked at a number of beautiful woods across the country before settling on the Sutherland forest.

A post marking the grove has just been erected, after Dame Judi sent out cards last Christmas telling friends she was dedicating the acre of woodland to them.

Dame Judi said: “For many years it has been my habit to plant trees marking occasions in family life.

The wood has "fantastic walks, a vast array of wildlife, tranquillity, and a rich and diverse habitat to explore".
The wood has "fantastic walks, a vast array of wildlife, tranquillity, and a rich and diverse habitat to explore".

“When I saw the Woodland Trust’s dedication scheme, it struck me as a marvellous way of gifting something rather beautiful and lasting to friends at Christmas.

“I looked at information and pictures of various beautiful woods before settling on Ledmore and Migdale.

“I have not visited personally. Perhaps I shall one day. As the trees grow in the years ahead, it is certainly a nice thought that some of my friends might drop by. It does seem a magical spot.”

The pandemic crisis delayed installation of a dedication post at the wood, but it is now in place. It reads: “These trees have been dedicated at Christmas 2019 for the people we love. Judi Dench and family.”

The dedication reads: “These trees have been dedicated at Christmas 2019 for the people we love. Judi Dench and family.”
The dedication reads: “These trees have been dedicated at Christmas 2019 for the people we love. Judi Dench and family.”

A respected film, stage and television actresses, Dame Judi has worked for the National Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company and won no fewer than eight prestigious Olivier Awards.

Known internationally for roles in films including James Bond, Mrs Brown, Shakespeare in Love and Iris, she is an ambassador of Woodland Trust.

Woodland Trust Scotland site manager Ross Watson said: “This is a fantastic accolade for Ledmore and Migdale. I am thrilled and I am sure many in the local community will be delighted too.

“The grove comprises an open bog woodland with birch fringe, and spectacular views over to Migdale Rock. It will be a fantastic haven for wildlife as the area continues to develop in the years ahead.”

Ross Watson, Woodland Trust north area site manager.
Ross Watson, Woodland Trust north area site manager.

Ledmore and Migdale is the most northerly of over 1000 sites managed by Woodland Trust across the UK. Dedications are available at over 50 locations.

The forest lies around the small village of Spinningdale, on the shore of the Dornoch Firth.

Woodland Trust says: “This beautiful wood offers an enriching and magical experience to visitors looking for fantastic walks, a vast array of wildlife, tranquillity, and a rich and diverse habitat to explore.”

At nearly 700 hectares it is one of the largest sites owned by the Woodland Trust and encompasses three Sites of Special Scientific Interest: Ledmore Oakwood, Migdale Pinewood and Spinningdale Bog.

Loch Migdale Walk. Picture: Alan Belton
Loch Migdale Walk. Picture: Alan Belton

In 1897 the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie bought Skibo Estate which then included the woods of Ledmore and Migdale. The estate stayed in the family until the 1980s.

Woodland Trust acquired the bulk of the site in the 1990s. Earlier this year it added The Fairy Glen – a favourite walk of the Carnegie family.

“When I saw the Woodland Trust’s dedication scheme, it struck me as a marvellous way of gifting something rather beautiful and lasting to friends at Christmas." - -Dame Judi Dench

Last year 20 red squirrels were reintroduced to Ledmore and Migdale in a partnership between Woodland Trust and Trees for Life.



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