Hairy Cows, The Isle of Skye, 2006
I have a list of near mythical places I've always wanted to visit.
On the list we have (in no real order) Buenos Aires, Rio de Janiero, Cancun, the Canadian Rockies, the Sahara, Cape Town, Mount Kilimanjaro, Angkor Wat, walking the Milford Sound, going on the complete Camino de Compostella de Santiago, more of Wales (I've been to Tintern Abbey, that's it) Koh Phi Phi, The Whitsundays, the Bungle Bungles... too many places, too little time and money (and I must renew my passport!).
One place I have knocked off the list a few years ago is the Isle of Skye, the largest of the Scottish Islands found on the west coast. Home to the Talisker distillery (yum - love peaty single malts) and some of the most stunning scenery I've ever witnessed. A place where the wind can carry the bleat of a bagpipe for miles.
Criss-crossing the country, starting at Inverness in the north east, I made my way down Loch Ness and across the country to the original Glenelg - which is nothing like the beachside suburb in Adelaide - actually, I think Glenelg is Scottish for Woop Woop.
Anyway, taking the bridge across the spit, I finally made it to this mythical place that they write songs about, the place where the MacLeods and MacDonalds come from, this place which has the feel of a place that has been ravaged by war and left to its own devices for centuries - and in many ways it has.
Skye is like no place I have ever been before or am likely to go to again.
The Isle of Skye is one of the most ruggedly beautiful places I have had the honour to visit. Amazing scenery - but that is the case for the whole of Scotland - okay, maybe not the outskirts of Glasgow...
Staying at a bed and breakfast outside of the town of Broadford, I found that being there out of season ( I was there in May), I needed to drive forty kilometres or so to find myself some dinner. So, a half hour drive was made, up to the town of Portree, the largest town on the island.
After a pleasant dinner at the pub I drove my trusty rented Skoda back. It was well past nine p.m.when I stumbled across these wee beasties grazing in the long paddock.
I love Highland cattle, or hairy cows as they are known, which is pronounced "herry coo", (it might take you a while to work out what the locals are going on about). They're as docile as regular cows despite the horns, complete with the big eyes which are hard to see because nobody appears to cut their fringes and lolloping gaits and an unwillingness to move out of the way of cars. The road was not much more than a sealed track so going fast wasn't an option - but they weren't going to get hit. The hairy cows had right of way.
The little hairy cow had a bit of personality too.
When I got back to the B&B around ten that evening, it was still dusk. I was happy. Seeing hairy cows was as good as witnessing the Loch Ness Monster. Little things make me happy, as you are well aware.
The other thing I love about this photo is what is in the background. Surrounded by a rugged, windswept coastline, the greys of the sky take on hues I've never seen before. Pinks, peaches, vanillas, blues and meld in together. Breathtaking.
As with all of my travels, I wish that somebody was there to share it with me. Radio National doesn't quite cut it for company on a road trip that takes you places such as this. At least I got to see hairy cows on the Isle of Skye.
And next time I'm going to the Talisker distillery with a designated driver...