… The Meikleour Beech Hedge in Perthshire. Blog posts from around the world are celebrating the magnificent colours and beauty of Autumn just now. My planned contribution today was to be for Wordless Wednesday. Then, considering there were tall stories to tell, I changed my mind ;-)
Late this afternoon (camera and daughter in the car) I took the drive along to see (what I’ve always known as) the beech hedges at Meikleour. I was telling my daughter stories of the area en route.
I remember passing by this hedge as a child. I’m pretty certain I visited Meikleour House too with my Grandmother. I’ve a memory of sitting in a kitchen. However, I don’t remember any stories of the hedge itself except that it was pretty tall and perhaps the tallest in the world.
As an adult, I discovered the Meikleour Beech Hedge was in fact in the Guinness World Record Book. It has been the highest hedge in the world since 1966! I’ll come back to the stats later as first I want to tell you what is believed to be the story behind this wonderful bronze wall of beech above.
Let’s turn back time to 1746 and the Battle of Culloden…
Many men were killed. A little earlier, in the Autumn of 1745 Jean Mercer and her husband, Robert Murray Nairne planted this European Beech (Fagus sylvatica) Hedge that I stood beside today with a digital camera in my hand. Here I was, trying to capture a photograph of this hedge in autumn when it looks pretty special.
Little did I know then that the story behind the height of this hedge is pretty special too. It is believed that following her husband’s death at the battle of Culloden, Jean Mercer of Meikleour allowed the hedge to grow towards the heavens in a tribute to his memory. I wonder if she imagined it as it is now. I guess she would be pleased.
Now looked after by The Meikleour Trust, every 10 years this beech hedge is pruned using a hydraulic lift and hand held equipment. At 530 metres (1/3 mile) long and an average height of 30 metres (100 feet) it’s not surprising that it takes 4 men about 6 weeks to prune it. Photos usually appear in the newspapers when this is being done.
At the North end (where I was standing) the hedge peaks at a staggering 36 metres (120 feet) in height. As this hedge runs along the busy A93 Blairgowrie road the lower section is more regularly trimmed. Looking closely at my image above you can see that.
There is a little parking (3-4 cars) at the other end of the hedge from where I stood but strangely for something that is a landmark and a world record there isn’t a viewpoint to safely take photos on the opposite side of the road. It isn’t signposted either. That's a pity.
I’ll not leave this on a negative note though. Wonderfully this World Record hedge is providing food for a variety of wildlife. Squirrels (red I hope), Pheasants, Woodpigeons, Rooks, Jays, Chaffinches and Wood mice can all feast on the triangular brown nuts released from the female catkins. Now, that’s what I’d call a legacy :-D
The photo of The Meikleour Beech Hedge shown above was taken on November 3rd 2010.