Ghoul’s Den

In the original Ordnance Survey book for the parish of Kilmany, Fife, is the following entry:

[situation] About 7/8 of a mile S.E. [South East] of the Village of Gauldry.
This name applies to a Planetree in the valley called Gowls Den. It is pointed out to each successive Forester by the proprietor, for his protection. The tradition is that Sir W. Scott when he paid a visit to this Den or Glen, struck This Tree with a small mallet pronouncing at the same time the words ‘This is my tree’


Once the travel restrictions for the Covid-19 pandemic have been lifted I intend to walk through Gowls Den and look for Sir Walter Scott’s Tree [other than the Ordnance Survey entry there seems to be little other record of it].

In an account of Kilmany, by J. S. Neish written in 1890, it is recorded “at easy distance from the village is a romantic ravine called Ghoul’s Den, a favourite resort of Dr. Chalmers, where he used to bathe in summer in a pool under a small waterfall.” Dr Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) was ordained as minister of Kilmany in 1803 and has been described as “Scotland’s greatest nineteenth-century churchman”.


Footnote: I have found several references to Ghoul’s Den in old newspapers but no mention of Sir Walter Scott’s Tree.

24 May 1888:

20 September 1897:

2 August 1899:

2 May 1910:

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