More about Ledmore & Migdale
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This wild and rugged landscape comprises rich and diverse habitats including dense broadleaved deciduous woodland, conifer plantations, heather moorland, marsh and rocky crags. Not only beautiful with commanding views, it is also of immense national importance for nature conservation.
This beautiful and wild landscape in the Scottish Highlands 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. It is one of the largest sites owned by the Woodland Trust and encompasses three Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs): Ledmore Oakwood (235 acres), Migdale Pinewood (356 acres) and Spinningdale Bog (71 acres).
Dense broadleaved deciduous
Habitats range from dense broadleaved deciduous woodland to conifer plantation; and open grasslands and marsh to the riparian environments of Spinningdale Burn and adjacent Durnoch Firth estuary. Breath-taking scenery and spectacular views of the surrounding landscape of hills and coast are common features of the site, but it is equally recognised for its vast national importance to nature conservation. Designated a National Conservation Review Site and Special Area of Conservation, it is rich in biodiversity and home to a vast array of plant, insect, bird and animal life, including otter, wild cat and pine marten.
These ancient woods have a history going back thousands of years and human activity can be traced back to at least the Bronze Age. In fact, the site has four likely burial mounds and five chambered cairns, three of which are scheduled ancient monuments. Whatever the time of year you visit, this beautiful and enchanting site offers a richly rewarding experience and a world just waiting to be discovered.
Ledmore and Migdale Woods lie around the small village of Spinningdale, on the shore of the Dornoch Firth. This is the gateway to Sutherland, once the ‘South land’ of the Norsemen, but for many of today’s travellers it is the last leg of the journey to John O’Groats, the most northerly point of Scotland.
The woods stretch across three distinct and craggy hills, commanding outstanding views of the surrounding landscape of hills and coast. This is also one of the narrowest points of Scotland, and with only 30 miles as the crow flies between Spinningdale and the west coast of Ullapool, it feels as if you can see across a whole nation.
OS Explorer 441
Landranger 21, NH661904
Access and walks
There are several entry points around the site, giving access to a network of more than 12km of paths and tracks, allowing visitors to explore the woods which stretch across three distinct and craggy hills.
The track running from the main entrance (off Fairy Glen road) to the east end of Loch Migdale is wide and grassy, with gentle to moderate inclines. The majority of the other tracks provide moderate to strenuous walking, with some significant slopes and uneven surfaces. Please note that the paths can become wet and very slippery in winter.
A free leaflet about Ledmore and Migdale Wood is available locally, and from the Woodland Trust Scotland, including information on the woods and suggested walking routes. There are information boards with maps at the main entrances.
You can also find walking routes at walkhighlands.co.uk
Two bridges cross the Firth – an elegant steel arch over the Kyle of Sutherland at Bonar Bridge, and downstream, at the old ferry crossing, the Dornoch Firth Bridge built in 1991. Between these crossings Ledmore Oakwood skirts the northern shore, with Migdale Pinewoods marching across the hills beyond.
Either approach makes an inspiring start to an exploration of the woods and the 7500 ha Dornoch Firth National Scenic Area in which they lie. The road to Bonar Bridge passes through pretty settlements, and affords spectacular views to the woods from Strule Hill to the south; while the main A9 route over the Dornoch Bridge gives a long view upstream to Spinningdale, and, nearer at hand, Skibo Castle estate.
By public transport
There is no regular public transport to the woodland, but trains on the Inverness-Wick line stop at Ardgay, 9.7km (six miles) east; and buses run to Bonar Bridge and Spinningdale.
For information on trains and also bus services, contact Traveline on 0871 200 2233, or at traveline Scotland
The wood is about an hour’s drive north of Inverness on the A9 Inverness to Wick/Thurso road. To reach the wood from the A9, turn off at Clashmore and travel 8km (five miles) west on the A949 to Spinningdale. From the village, take a right turn onto a minor road sign-posted ‘Migdale’ and travel 0.8km (half a mile) up the Fairy Glen road to reach a Torroy car park on the right.
Alternatively, if approaching from the west through Bonar Bridge, take the A949 for 8km (5 miles) to reach Spinningdale. From the village take the left turn sign-posted ‘Migdale’ onto the Fairy Glen road, and proceed as above.
Further parking is available in a lay-by adjacent to the northern shore of Loch Migdale (reached from Bonar Bridge) with informal road-side parking also possible at entrance points around the site. Please take care not to obstruct gates or passing places.
Nearest public conveniences are at Bonar Bridge, 8km (five miles) west of the wood. A disabled toilet is available and requires a RADAR key. Public toilets with disabled facilities are also available at Dornoch, 14.5km (nine miles) east.
• Handmade Crafts and Café, Bonar Bridge; open Tuesday to Saturday (grid reference NH610913; telephone 01863 766777).
• Dunroamin Hotel, Bonar Bridge (grid reference NH609917; telephone 0845 4566399).
• Bridge Hotel & Restaurant, Bonar Bridge (grid reference NH610913; telephone 01863 766737).
Accommodation & Tourist Information
• Tourist Information Centre, The Square, Dornoch, Sutherland IV25 3SD (grid reference NH798896; telephone 01862 810 400).
• Nearest youth hostel is in Carbisdale Castle (grid reference NH574954; telephone 0870 004 1109 or visit syha.org.uk).
• Visit the Walk Highlands website: walkhighlands.co.uk