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In Search of Highland Cows

Posted 5 June 2020
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I love highland cows - they are just so fluffy!

I also love other people's photographs and artwork of highland cows, so much so that I have been looking for ones to photograph for quite some time.

My first serious attempt was to find the ones that lived on Baslow Edge in the Derbyshire Peak District: this was made more urgent by the fact that the herd that had lived there peaceably for over 40 years were soon to be moved due to an unsubstantiated complaint by a dog walker.


So I set off one chilly and overcast Sunday with my walking boots and camera to find them. I walked for miles and found lots of tracks and evidence of the cows, but unfortunately they all seemed to be hiding in the bracken and none would come out to have their photograph taken. It was a fabulous view from the top, though.

My second attempt was last summer. My annual holiday was a drive up the west side of the UK to Scotland, ferry-hop to lots of the islands right up to Stornaway and then drive back down again.

Being a breed from Scotland, I therefore assumed that the country would be full of them and that getting a photograph or two would be assured! It didn't turn out that way. It wasn't until I was driving back from seeing the Butt of Lewis lighthouse, right on the north tip of the island, that I spotted a couple in a field. Unfortunately by the time I had found a place to park on the narrow lane, gathered my camera and walked back to the field, both had decided to retreat to the furthest reaches and lie in the tall grass. With their backs to me.

Oh well, at least there was the drive back homewards, via Loch Ness. I was sure to find lots more.

Of course, I didn't. Every field flashed past resolutely highland cow-free until we had almost reached Stirling, where I did quite a quick stop after spotting 3 in a small field beside the road. Even then I was disappointed - these were black, not the lovely ginger colour I always associate with the cows, and had obviously been placed in the field to entice people into the adjacent cafe/shop. The looks on their faces told of endless hours being poked and shouted at by small children and I really felt sorry for them.

I did manage to get one photograph though - this is the one I used to create the half drawn/half photograph print on the website.

So with the Scotland trip not producing any cows and the ones on Baslow Edge long since moved, I had given up on ever getting 'my' highland cow pictures.

Then last week I was sneaking along some back roads close by my house (to give the car it's weekly run and keep the battery charged) when I turned a corner and saw not one, but three young highland cows. Even more remarkable was that the sun was low in the sky - the golden hour - and I had my camera with me, as I thought I might see some owls out hunting.

I stopped for a while to take a few shots and say hello and was over the moon when I got back into the car to drive the final couple of miles to my home. So you can imagine my utter joy when a hundred yards up the lane was another field, this time with 6 or 7 of them!

All that time searching and I find 9 or 10 on my own doorstep!

I am now hoping that they will still be there when winter comes and that we actually get some snow - even better, some snow before Christmas so I can get a few shots for my Christmas cards!

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