Skip Navigation

Trees and plants at Ledmore & Migdale

The woodland comprises a rich and diverse mosaic of habitats, ranging from dense broadleaved deciduous woodland with some massive veteran trees and swathes of young, regenerating seedlings; to open grasslands and marsh.

The rich habitat mosaic within Ledmore and Migdale has a complex history of succession, both natural and as a result of intervention by man. It is this complex dynamic played out over millennia that has led to the diversity of habitats and species found here.

Tree species include mature birch and oak woodland, mature Scots pine (including three veterans recorded for the Ancient Tree Hunt), occasional aspen, rowan, juniper and ash, and abundant birch regeneration, plus a wide range of understorey plants including several rare species such as the creeping ladies tresses orchid.

Ledmore oak wood – the largest remnant of ancient oak wood in Sutherland and the most northerly extensive oak wood in eastern Britain – has an evergreen carpet of heather and blaeberry.

The Migdale Rock Scots pine wood is one of the most northerly pine woods in Britain and, although it was probably planted – much of it with larch and Scots pine in the 18th and 19th centuries – it exhibits features characteristic of naturally occurring Caledonian Pine Forest. The wood supports a remarkable range of ancient pinewood indicator invertebrates, lichens and plant species which suggests that it may have links as far back as the post-glacial Caledonian Pine Forest.

Spinningdale Bog is one of only a few valley mires in East Sutherland and has great wildlife value because of its range of habitats – from open water and reed beds to alder, birch and willow woodland.

There are also 135 ha (333 acres) of naturally regenerating birch woodland, over 40 ha (100 acres) of semi-mature conifer plantation and areas of open heather moorland.

Bracken is frequent throughout and dominant in some areas, particularly on former field sites. A number of notable lichen species – some associated with old woodland sites and many rare outside ancient woodland habitats – are present. A lichen survey of Migdale woods in 2001 found a ‘surprisingly rich’ lichen flora and noted that ‘the lichen evidence suggests that some parts of the pinewood could indeed be relic status’.

A new commercial plantation area was established in circa 1960 above Spinningdale Village and adjoining the east end of Ledmore oakwood. Species planted included Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, Scots pine and Sitka spruce.