Highland Memories

Auxunit activity on the Skibo Estate

The industrialist and world-famous philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) purchased the Highland estate of Skibo in southeast Sutherland in 1897.  During WWII, the estate was still the summer home of his widow Louise, and in 1946 it passed to his granddaughter, Margaret Carnegie Miller.  Margaret spent each summer at Skibo, and her own grandchildren came each year from Edinburgh to spend glorious days adventuring in the Highland landscape.  Their mentor was the gamekeeper, Harry Blythe, by all accounts a super-hero in the eyes of succeeding generations of Skibo children.  It was not until sometime after the war, however, that young Margaret (one of the most enthusiastic of Harry’s disciples!) discovered that he had been a member of a local Auxiliary Unit.  In this interview, recorded with sisters Margaret and Louise in 2011,  Margaret tells how this information came to light.

Harry Blythe, whose father and grandfather before him had been chief gamekeeper for the Montrose family, stayed on at Skibo until his retirement in 1965; he subsequently resided at Haugh Court in Inverness*.  The interview was recorded with two of Andrew Carnegie’s great-granddaughters, Margaret Thompson and Louise Sugget, on the shore of Loch Migdale, a favourite picnic spot of their childhood, and also the location of a (now lost) Auxiliary Unit ammunition cache. 

Since 1993, Woodland Trust Scotland has owned and cared for the 1700acres of Ledmore & Migdale Woods, which were formerly part of the Skibo estate.  The Woodland Trust Scotland is part of the UK's leading woodland conservation charity and has three aims: to enable the creation of more native woods and places rich in trees; to protect native woods, trees and their wildlife for the future; to inspire everyone to enjoy and value woods and trees.  In Scotland they own and manage 80 sites covering 8,750 hectares.

For further information about Woodland Trust Scotland or Ledmore & Migdale Wood contact scotland@woodlandtrust.org.uk


* ‘Skibo’ Joseph Frasier Wall 1984


Eleanor Garty

Site Manager/ Woodland Creation Adviser - Highland

Woodland Trust Scotland


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