My favourite place among the trees

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Naturalists, campaigners and other contributors to a new book pick the woodlands they love for views, history and magic

My work as a Scottish woodland heritage specialist affords me the privilege of investigating many remarkable old woods. One of my favourites is Castle Wood, at 13th-century Caerlaverock Castle, the triangular moated ruin south of Dumfries. Few visitors know the secrets of the old wood beside it, which recent research has only just uncovered. It is rich with hidden archaeology and characterful ancient trees, all in the most atmospheric setting – on the Solway coast. The wood is a nature reserve and seems more feral every time I visit, but it has a long history of management. Exploring here will reveal medieval bank systems enclosing the castles built 800 years ago, while an even larger enclosure was added around 400 years ago, and there are banks studded with old coppiced oaks and the occasional pollard. Off the tracks the wood is wet and wild, so bring wellies for serious exploration.
Dr Coralie Mills, founder of the dendrochronicle.co.uk consultancy

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