Bagpipes in the Mountains

Virginia State Senior Trooper, Gavin Scott, and photographer, Billy Bowling scaled the Wynne Peak trail in Tazewell for breathtaking photos and videos this weekend.

TAZEWELL, Va. — As the sunset over Four Seasons Country this weekend, Tazewell residents may have heard something other than birds roosting for the night.

A photographer and a Bagpipe player climbed a mountain at sunset; an unlikely pair, no doubt. However, the result was the highlight of many social media feeds this weekend.

Gavin Scott is a Virginia State Police Senior Trooper, recruiter and bagpipe player for the Wytheville Division. He has played bagpipes at the Pentagon and plays for all of the Line of Duty Funerals for Veterans. Billy Bowling is a photographer based in southwest Virginia who specializes in mindblowing landscape photography from the highest peaks of Appalachian mountain ranges.

“We’ve wanted to get some photos and video of him playing pipes up on the peak for the longest time now,” Bowling said. “If we could just make a last-minute trip up the mountain and have him pipe a few tunes for videos that it might be inspirational for people locally who have gone through a lot this year,” Bowling said. “I had an early session finish and I wanted to shoot a sunset. He was luckily at home doing nothing for once and we just went for it.”

How does a bagpiper reach the peak of a mountain? Well, he walks...and hikes of course. 

“The hike up to Wynne peak, ‘the peak,’ as Tazewell locals refer to it is probably the hardest mile hike you’ll ever do in your life,” Bowling said. “It’s just a straight vertical climb until you reach near the summit where there are ropes fixed in to help you navigate safely. A lot of it is on private property but the landowners are always good to give us permission to go up, as well as the town and the Police Department any time I ask for anything. So really it was a lot of people working together last minute.”

A five-year goal in the making, the two men hiked the vertical climb through mud and leaves to achieve their photo and video dreams.

“We really just hiked up thinking a video would be awesome to do,” Bowling said. “So many people here know Gavin and love his music, and know me and love when I post photos from these wild places high on mountains, it kinda just was a perfect match. We’ve talked about doing it for probably four years now and just couldn’t get the time to work out for either of us. He’s always working and I am always on a mountain not in Tazewell.”

Ironically enough, their photo shoot coincided with the first day of Rifle season in Tazewell, and folks were confused as to what they were hearing. Bowling said that people have reached out to him on Facebook after seeing the video and told him that they heard bagpipes while they were farming or hunting.

“It made me laugh because we wondered if anyone would actually hear us,” Bowling said.

— Contact Emily Rice at erice@bdtonline.com

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