Today we see the traditional Scottish Heilan Coo, as a big red hairy bull with oversized horns, but did you know that the Heilan Coo isn’t always red? In fact, the reason why most are red these days would apparently be due to Queen Victoria. During one of her visits to Scotland in the 1840’s; Queen Victoria let folk know that she preferred the Red cattle as opposed to the Black ones – and so (as the Queen had commented), more Red cattle were bred and the number of Black cattle progressively declined. Here is more on the grand Scottish Heilan Coo (Highland Cow).
History of the Scottish Heilan Coo
The hardy native Scottish breed dates back to the 6th century; and the world’s oldest Highland Cattle Registry was established in the 18th century. Today the iconic big horned, long red haired hairy highland cows (Heilan Coos) can also be found not only in Scotland, but around the world in far-flung destinations such as North America and Australia. Originally there were two breeds the smallest being the black coloured known as Kyloes located on the west coast of Scotland and the Isles, while the larger red haired from the Highlands. Today both are collectively known as Highland Cattle.
Royal Highland Show
If visiting Edinburgh during the last weekend in June, why not enjoy a day out at The Royal Highland Show. This year The Royal Highland Show celebrated its 177th year with another successful turnout. The show has a large range of show cattle, horses and even birds of prey! There is also a large selection of agricultural machinery, food and drink stalls, a wide range of craft stalls including clothes, shoes, jewellery and much more. You can also see magnificent beasts including the Heilan Coo! Learn about the different breeds including the oldest and most distinguished – Highlander, with its unchanged long thick coat and majestic horns. Today it is also one of the prime cuts sold, with its lean marbled flesh and distinctive taste. It has also been said, to be proven to be lower in fat and cholesterol than buffalo and also chicken. Although we mostly associate the Highland Coo as being show cattle.
Did you know the Queen has her own herd at Balmoral Castle located on the east coast of Scotland? As well as Balmoral there are some other castles such as Blair Castle just outside Perth; large estates like Paxton House in the Scottish borders and not to miss the beautiful areas and scenic drives surrounding Loch Lomond! If you only have a short time to travel outside Edinburgh, why not visit Baxters in Kelty? Just a short drive across the iconic Forth Road Bridge into the county of Fife; Baxters is known for its delicious homemade soup but the shop and restaurant offer so much more including the opportunity to see the magnificent heilan coos!
These locations are easily reached by car and there is a selection of accommodation in the surrounding areas. As it’s getting into peak summer time here in Scotland, please do book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Looking to explore more of Scotland? Why not hire a motorhome rental and have more flexibility to enjoy the great landscapes and scenic drives including the popular NC500 (North Coast 500).
I hope you have enjoyed discovering and learning more about the Scottish Helian Coo. As always, I would love to hear from you. Where is your favourite Heilan Coo spot? Please leave your comments/questions below. Happy Travels:) x