Scots called on to vote in European Tree of the Year competition
Niel Gowâ€™s oak stands on the bank of the River Tay, near Dunkeld in Perthshire. According to local legend, the 18th-century fiddler Niel Gow wrote many of his most famous tunes beneath this tree.
Itâ€™s said that Gowâ€™s patron, the Duke of Atholl, would stand on the other side of the river listening to the music as it drifted across the water.
Today, the ancient oak sits on land owned by Forestry Commission Scotland and offers a fine sight for all who walk the banks of the Tay.
So it seems fitting that Niel Gowâ€™s oak has become the first Scottish tree to be entered into the European Tree of the Year competition.
Now, Scots are being called upon to vote for it in the hope that the tree will become the contestâ€™s overall winner.
This week, the campaign for votes was launched by singer-songwriter and composer Dougie MacLean – pictured at the oak – who performed his interpretation of Niel Gowâ€™s Farewell to Whisky under the treeâ€™s branches.
MacLean said: â€œScotland is loved globally for its beautiful scenery and rich musical heritage, and Niel Gowâ€™s oak is something that builds a bridge between those two worlds.
â€œIâ€™m sure that Scots from across the world will join me in getting involved by voting for it.
â€œI have a personal connection to the oak because I grew up and still live in Perthshire just a few miles from it, and I also play the fiddle.Â Iâ€™ve been fascinated by Gowâ€™s tunes for many years and have performed and recorded a number of favourites.
â€œItâ€™s a beautiful feeling to rest under the tree and imagine Niel Gow sitting in the same spot, taking his inspiration from the scenery and the flow of the river.â€
Scotlandâ€™s entry to the contest has been co-ordinated by the Woodland Trust Scotland.
Carol Evans, director of the WTS, said: â€œNiel Gowâ€™s oak is a fantastic example of a tree that has a great story to tell.
â€œVirtually every community in Scotland has at least one tree that is well loved and has a great story to tell, but it feels fitting to start our involvement in the contest in Perthshire, which is well known as the Big Tree Country.â€
The 10 countries competing in Tree of the Year are Scotland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Wales.
You can vote for Niel Gowâ€™s oak at treeoftheyear.org. Voting closes at the end of February.