Pass of Glen Tilt

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X:1 T:Pass of Glen Tilt M:C L:1/16 R:Strathspey B:John Gow – A Favorite Collection of Slow Airs, B:Strathspeys and Reels (London, c. 1804, p. 34) Z:AK/Fiddler’s Companion K:E B,3G (GFEF) EE3E3G|B3ce3g f3ef2g2|e3gc3e G2B2 E2B,2|A,3e (cBAG) {G}F4 F3G| B,3G (GFEF) EE3E3G|B3ce2g2 Tf3ef2g2|e3de2B2 c2e2a2g2|be3a3g {g}Tf4e4|| E3bg3a d3ge2B2|c3ea2g2 Tf3ef2g2|e3bg2a2 f3ge2B2|c2A2a2g2 Tf4 f3g| e3(ba) g3(ag)|f3(gf) e3B|c2e2a2g2 Tf3ef2g2|(e2d2e2)B2 c2e2a2g2|{ga}b3e{fg}a3g Tf2e2||



PASS OF GLEN TILT. Scottish, Strathspey (whole time). E Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. Glen Tilt is in the extreme north of Perthshire, Scotland, and begins in Aberdeenshire. The River Tilt runs through it, emptying into the Garry after a course of 14 miles. Glen Tilt was the drovers' and pedestrian route between Blair Athole and Braemar in the 19th century and prior, a long day's hike of 30 miles. There was a dispute in Victorian times when the Sixth Duke of Atholl sought to prohibit passage across his lands. With the assistance of the newly-created Edinburgh Society for the Preservation of Rights of Way, an action was brought against the Duke in the Edinburgh Court of Session. He lost, and appealed to the House of Lords, where he again lost. Nevertheless, the Duke still attempted to stop walkers on the pathway. Two Cambridge students attempted to walk Glen Tilt in 1850 and were accosted by the Duke and his retainers. They told their story in a letter The Times:

On Friday, August 30th, we shouldered our knapsacks and left Castletown of Braemar with the intention of walking to Blair Atholl through Glen Tilt, 'a distance of thirty miles. We might have gone by another road through Blairgowrie and Dunkeld, but as this road was upwards of sixty miles in length, and we were informed by all persons of whom we inquired at Braemar that though the Duke of Atholl, in spite of the decision of the Court of Session, was still endeavouring to stop all who made use of the bridle-road or footpath through Glen Tilt, yet he would not dare use violence if one insisted on a right of passage, we determined to take the shorter road.

“You must go back! Why didn’t you stop sir?” (The Duke yelled). I again took out my pocket book, and preparing to write, said “What is your name?” “I am the Duke of Atholl” he replied, upon which we immediately tendered him our card (which he read and pocketed) and stated that we wished to proceed to Blair Atholl. However he insisted that we must “go back” to which we urged that the Court of Session had decided that there was a right of way through Glen Tilt, and, therefore we could not be stopped. He replied angrily “It is not a public way, it is my private drive! You shan’t come down; the deer are coming, the deer are coming!” upon which we expressed our willingness to retire behind the lodge till his sport was ended, but he said we had been impertinent, we claimed it as a right, and we should not go down an inch.

Hereupon I said that in that case I certainly would go down, and if he stopped me it would be at his peril, upon which he became impatient, seized my companion by the collar of his coat, and attempted to force him back, refusing to listen to anything we had to say. This unseemly scene took place before the Duchess and another lady, for whose presence he had so little regard as to use oaths and other violence such as you would scarcely expect to hear from the lips of a gentleman. Finding his strength was of little avail, he shouted for help to his unwilling grooms, who were evidently enjoying the scene from a distance, and my companion, seeing opposition was useless against four men, allowed ourselves to be led away by a servant.

They told us that we would be closely watched, and if we stirred from the path we would be prosecuted for trespassing. On parting, they took care to tell us that it was not their fault; and I will do them justice to say that they did their work very reluctantly. Well now, there was nothing to do but to take the old ghillies advice, and wait till dark. The hills on each side were very steep, so that, besides the danger of being taken up for trespass, it would have been no easy matter to find our way to a village distant 10 miles. For four long hours, then, we were forced to walk up and down this bleak vale in order to ward off the chill autumn evening. When it became dark we proceeded on our way, which gave us no little trouble and uncertainty, as the darkness of the night was increased by the black shade of the pine forests. However, by midnight we reached the hotel, and soon recovered from the fatigue of a day, which, after all, gave us a good deal of amusement.[1]



Additional notes

Source for notated version: -

Printed sources : - John Gow (A Favorite Collection of Slow Airs, Strathspeys and Reels), London, c. 1804; p. 34.

Recorded sources: -



Back to Pass of Glen Tilt

  1. quoted in "The Battle of Glen Tilt" from John Bainbridge's blog "Walking the Old Ways", 2018 [1].