Sunday morning saw us up, ridiculously excited, at 7.30am (on a SUNDAY). I know, you’re thinking that there are very few things that should get a person out of bed at that ungodly hour, but a trip up to the Highlands is definitely one of them. Brooke had made us epic Heelan Coo t-shirts (which I don’t have a picture of, because we were wearing them under about eight other layers), and we set out into the dark for the Lawnmarket.
For my Christmas present, Brooke had booked us on a trip to the Highlands with The Hairy Coo Tour, which is TripAdvisors number 1 thing to do in Scotland, and I can totally see why. The company started almost three years ago, and their tours are free. Yup. They work on a ‘tip only’ basis, so you go on the trip, and then you tip whatever you think the tour was worth when you get back to Edinburgh.
So, at 9am, we departed in a big orange bus (disguised so as to fool the coos into thinking that we were one of them, and not people), with our tour guide for the day, Russell, telling us about Edinburgh’s window tax as we drove off in the direction of the Forth Bridge. At the bridges, we had just enough time to grab cups of tea out of the rain,and then it was back onto the bus and off to the National Wallace Monument. On the way, we passed the Kelpies – huge sculptures standing 100 feet tall, and very nearly finished. They’re beautiful.
At the Wallace Monument, Russell told us the grim story of William Wallace, which is surprising different in Scotland to how I remember being taught it at school (Scotland: hero & martyr, murdered; England: terrorist & traitor, executed). Being hung, drawn and quartered sounds like a fairly horrific punishment, and with the added indignity of having your head dipped in tar and put on a spike, it seems like King Edward I was definitely out to make a point. Wallace’s monument is pretty impressive, though, and the view was spectacular, even in the pouring rain.
Back on the bus, we were off to Doune Castle, which is in Game of Thrones, but it’s also the setting for pretty much all of the different castles in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Cue Brooke and I shouting French Taunts at each other and galloping around the castle.
Just as it started hailing, we scrambled back onto the bus and headed for Callander, a village right on the border of the Highlands, where we stopped for lunch, IN THE SNOW. Yup, this was real highlands territory now! Brooke and I opted for pub lunch at The Crown, which comes very highly recommended. Yum. We had a wander along the high street, and Brooke bought some fudge and some Scottish tablet to take home with her (my attempt at explaining tablet was “super sugary fudge, but more crumbly.” The woman in the shop agreed).
After lunch, we went to Loch Katrine, which is – hands down – the most stunning place I have ever visited. These pictures do not do it justice at all. It was just beautiful.
So pretty. We were also on the hunt for Heelan Coos now, and we managed to find one at Loch Katrine!
Haha, best video ever.
After leaving Loch Katrine, we really were on a Heelan Coo hunt, and finally, we spotted some! Russell beeped the horn at them, and they came over and waited for us all to get our layers back on and get out of the bus. (I have to add here, that health & safety chats about what not to do when approaching a highland cow are significantly improved by people falling over in the snow whilst giving said chat. Sorry, Russell, but it was pretty funny.)
AND THEN WE GOT TO FEED THE COWS.
Brooke’s face makes me laugh so much in these pictures.
Coos fed, we reluctantly got back on the bus, and went to Aberforth for the final stop, and then a very quick photo op stop at Stirling Castle at night, before heading back to Edinburgh, where Brooke and I did a mad dash back to mine and then to the airport to get her on her flight home (waah).
I’d absolutely recommend the Hairy Coo tours to everyone, it was amazing. It was only Russell’s first week (we were his fifth tour) and he was awesome. We learnt loads about Scotland, and bits of history, and any tour that has coos and Monty Python gets a massive tick in my book. Yay! Go book yourself on the tour here. You can see all of mine and Brooke’s instagrams from Sunday on the hashtag #heelancoos!
Disclaimer: I haven’t been paid to write this post, and Brooke paid (tipped?) for our tour as my Christmas present. It was just an AMAZING day, and I wanted to tell you all about it. YAY COOOOOOS!!