Covid19 may have curtailed our travel plans for the time being, but that does not stop us from travelling. A few weeks ago, when I was bitterly lamenting the indefinite delay of our 2020 travel plans to Scotland, Don reminded me that “when we stand still, the world comes to us.”
In the days that followed, the world obliged and brought Scotland to me in the form of a ‘coo cam.’ Yes, Highland cows (aka coos) have knocked on my door and asked to come in for a visit. You may well ask how this is possible?
According to Andrea Smith, writer for the Lonely Planet, “Scotland has launched a video starring its adorable Highland cows to bring a flavor of the country to the world. It aims to bring a smile to those whose trips to the country have been canceled, while also inspiring future visits.”
Highland cows are known as the gentle giants of Scotland. The poster that greets visitors at the Glasgow Airport has a portrait of a Highland cows with the welcoming message: “Friendly Locals! Discover Scotland’s amazing castles and unique Highland cows.”
Travel with me virtually as I go back to Scotland and meet up with these marvelous creatures. I understand that they are the oldest registered breed of cattle in the world. The Scottish Highlands are known for their cold winters, but Highland cows have a double coat that keeps them warm. Beneath their iconic long outer hair, there is a downy undercoat. They have a regal presence with bulls reaching weights up to 800kg and cows up to 500kg. The name for a group of cows is herd, but not for Highland cows. Their collective name a ‘fold’ of Highland cows which came from the open shelters where they can be kept in over winter.
Highland cows have been popular throughout history. Cattle thieving was commonplace, so an official Watch was set up which allowed farmers to pay to retrieve their cattle. Remember Rob Roy MacGregor? He operated one of these Watches. I understand that was a cattle dealer and yes, sometimes a thief. Even Queen Victoria expressed an opinion about how she liked the “red” coloured cattle.
I met up with a few Highland cows on the Isle of Skye and the tranquil Island of Iona. They were gracious and generous hosts.