Neil Gow's Oak
It is here Niel Gow (1727 - 1807) composed and played many of his best 'strathspeys' and 'reels'. It proved to be inspirational spot. Conveniently a short walk from his cottage at Inver.
The tree has always been called Neil Gow's Oak.
Neil Gow and the The 4th Duke of Atholl
The 4th Duke of Atholl (1755 – 1830), often sat on the opposite bank of the River Tay, listening to Neil's music.
Indeed the Duke loved Neil Gow's music so much, that he paid Neil Gow a retainer. Neil played at family functions, christenings, birthdays and balls. In the Blair Castle 1770s account book, there is a record that Neil Gow received £5 a year. It is the equivalent to £850 pounds in 2018, not an awful lot of money.
Niel Gow was highly respected in all levels of society in his life time. He was respected as a musician, also as a straightforward, honest man with a great sense of humour. Becoming larger than life after his death, making it sometimes difficult to separate truth from fiction.
The path is part of the Dunkeld Path Network, which is detailed in a walks leaflet you can purchase. Fiddlers path is way marked. It takes you from the centre of Dunkeld, along the south bank of the River Tay to Neil Gow's Oak.
Storm damage to Neil Gow's Oak.
The Oak was severely damaged in a winter storm in early 2012. Branches crashing down and destroying the oak bench beneath the tree.
A year later on the 25 March 2013, the Forestry Commission Scotland installed a new bench. The new bench was appropriately dedicated to Neil Gow, unveiled by Michael Marra's widow Peggy. Michael Marra was famous Dundee singer-songwriter, who died in 2012.
The new bench bears a line from Marra's song Niel Gow's Apprentice. It reads:
"I'll sit beneath the fiddle tree, with the ghost of Niel Gow next to me."
The bench was carved by Nigel Ross and the inscription carved by Andy McFetters.
Neil Gow's Oak Tree is a lovely spot to sit, as the great composer did, all those years ago.