Highland cow on the coastal road between Applecross and Shieldaig
One of the most sought-after Scottish experiences our visitors can’t seem to get enough of is meeting Scotland’s hairy and loveable Highland cows. Or as we Scots call them, Highland coos!
Iconic, cute and extremely photogenic, these hardy yet docile animals can be found right across Scotland, including the islands. Depending on where in Scotland you’re visiting, we’ve put together some top picks in a country-wide guide for getting up close to them.
Starting from the north and working south, then the islands, and finishing with fun-filled agricultural shows…
The Glenlivet estate and distillery
The famous Scottish Highlands, where Highland cows originate from, is undoubtably a great place to see them. Amongst the epic and jaw-dropping landscapes, you’re spoiled for locations to pick from!
- Thurso to Durness: See Highland cows in fields along the renowned North Coast 500 route between Thurso and Durness. On this stretch, Kirkton Farm offers buggy tours around their Highland cattle farm. Or further along the western stretch of the NC500 route, you might see Highland cows enjoying a seaweed picnic at Clachtoll Beach.
- Duirinish or Plockton: Very close to the Isle of Skye bridge, Duirinish is a small and traditional Scottish village where you can find Highland cows roaming around freely. Also nearby is the beautiful coastal village of Plockton, where Highland cows are also free to roam around the village!
- Applecross: One of the best known spots for a guaranteed sighting of free-roaming Highland cows is the minor coastal road called Bealach Na Ba, a historical cow drover’s road running between Applecross and Shieldaig. Do drive carefully!
- Fort William and around Ben Nevis: See Highland cows in the fields around historic Cow Hill at the edge of Fort William. It’s named after the cows which have always historically been kept there by Highlander farmers. Glen Nevis and Glen Coe are also great spots where you’re likely to see Highland cows living amongst the stunning backdrops.
- Ardnamurchan: On the gloriously green north west coast near Fort William, Highland cattle wander freely around the area of Ardnamurchan and at nearby Sanna beach.
- The Glenlivet Distillery: If you plan on visiting the world-famous Glenlivet Distillery in the north of the Cairngorms National Park, look out for Highland cattle in the area’s surrounding fields.
- Rothiemurchus Estate, Aviemore: Located in the north of the Cairngorms National Park just outside Aviemore, Rothiemurchus is a woodland estate with a castle and wildlife – and most importantly – plenty of Highland cows! You can even take a Hairy Coo Safari starting from the Rothiemurchus Centre.
- Ruthven Barracks, Kingussie: The atmospheric ruins of the Ruthven Barracks are located in the west of the Cairngorms National Park. They are surrounded by grazing land where you can see Highland cows, roaming around the barracks in this very picturesque landscape. Also nearby, meet the Highland cows that happily greet visitors at the fascinating Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore.
- Uvie Farm: Visit Uvie Farm in the west of the Cairngorms National Park, which breeds Highland cows. You can see both adult cows and calves, and even stay there if you’d like!
- Glen Tanar: See Highland cows grazing in fields near the road in enchanting Glen Tanar, on the eastern periphery of the Cairngorms National Park. Glen Tanar estate offers various activities too.
- Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre: Highland cows are kept in a field at the entrance to the famous Culloden Battlefield, which is located a short drive east of Inverness and is a fascinating place to delve into the past. Also nearby, north east of Inverness, visit the delightful Muthu Newton Hotel in Nairn. You can see Highland cows grazing in the hotel’s surrounding parkland and enjoy beautiful sea views.
- Cardhu Distillery: Approximately an hour drive to the south east of Inverness, a small herd of Highland cattle graze in the fields beside Cardhu Distillery.
- Drumbuie Farm, Loch Ness: Stay at Drumbuie Farm B&B on the northern shores of the mystical Loch Ness, which is also a working farm with Highland cattle. The northern stretch of the loch is generally a good place to see Highland cows in the surrounding fields.
- The Cameron’s Tea Room and Farm Shop, Loch Ness: Located on the southern side of Loch Ness, the fields beside the charming Cameron’s Tea Room and Farm Shop is home to a friendly herd of Highland cows.
NORTH EAST SCOTLAND
Aberdeenshire is a great place to spot both highland cows and castles, having the greatest density of castles anywhere in the country! From stunning Royal Deeside, to quaint traditional fishing villages on the coast, this region has much to enjoy. Check out Scotland’s Castle Trail for more inspiration.
- Macallan Distillery: Located in the north west of Aberdeenshire, if you visit the renowned Macallan Distillery, be sure to take a walk around the estate and meet the distillery’s own herd of Highland cattle.
- Kintore Castle Fold: A working farm located by the village or Laurencekirk, just a 20-minute drive from Stonehaven and the iconic Dunnottar Castle, owners John and Jenne Singer welcome visitors to learn about their Highland cows. If time allows, they will even halter the cows for visitors to pet, walk, groom and feed them – and of course get a photo taken! Their herd is predominantly the rarer black highland cows.
- Crathes Castle: Located in stunning Royal Deeside, you can find Highland cows located in a field on the right side of Crathes Castle’s entrance driveway, and enjoy the wonderful walks around the castle and grounds. Also nearby is Drum Castle and the historic town of Banchory.
- Kincardine Castle: A short drive west of Banchory in Royal Deeside, find Highland cattle grazing in the fields surrounding Kincardine Castle, and enjoy a walk around the castle grounds.
- Meldrum House Hotel: Located a 30-minute drive north of Aberdeen, you can meet the adorable herd of Highland cattle that graze in the beautiful grounds of Meldrum House Hotel.
- Aikenshill House: Stay at Aikenshill House & Farm B&B, just a 20-minute drive north of Aberdeen, where you can enjoy sea views, unspoiled stretches of stunning beaches nearby, and get to know the herd of 22 Highland cows which belong to the owners!
The regions of Dundee & Angus, The Kingdom of Fife, Argyll, Perthshire, Loch Lomond, The Trossachs, Stirling & Forth Valley are located centrally in the heart of Scotland – stretching from the west to east coasts. These regions are easily accessible from the largest cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
- Glamis Castle: Approximately a 20-minute drive north of Dundee, Glamis Castle is the legendary setting of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and the surrounding grounds are also home to some Highland cows.
- Balgove Larder Farm Shop, St Andrews: Located on the edge of St Andrews in Fife, the fabulous Balgove Larder Farm Shop (with a café and restaurant) is worth a stop – not only for the delicious food, but also to meet the friendly Highland cows in the field just outside. Also nearby, Upper Largo is a 30-minute drive from St Andrews, where cows graze around the hill of Largo Law – an ancient volcano. Try a pleasant walk from the village of Upper Largo to the summit and back.
- Taste Perthshire: This delightful shop and restaurant known not only for its wonderful food made from locally sourced Scottish produce, but also its small herd of Highland cows that are on hand nearby to greet visitors. Or further north west of Taste Perthshire, Aberfeldy and the magical Glen Lyon are lovely spots to go Highland cow spotting – and perhaps even find them taking a bath in the river!
- Blair Castle: Located north of Perth, a short drive from Pitlochry and The House of Bruar, see Highland cattle in the surrounding fields as you approach Blair Castle.
- Scone Palace: Located a short drive north of Perth, beautiful Scone Palace was the crowning place of Scottish kings, and also home to Highland cows in the surrounding grounds.
- Stirling Castle: Living in the fields below the iconic Stirling Castle, Highland cows graze happily, offering some amazing photo opportunities with the castle in the background! Take the footpath down from the castle to find them.
- Luss Estates Company, Loch Lomond: Luss Estates Company in the south west of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park welcomes visitors to meet their herd of Highland cattle. Highland cows can also be seen grazing around nearby Loch Goil. Or Kilmahog Woollen Mill, in the eastern periphery of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, has Highland cows in the field outside. (Note that the Trossach Woollen Mill is also very nearby on the same road, in case of confusion.)
- Loch Achray: A 20-minute drive west from Kilmahog in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, highland cows can be found in the fields near Loch Achray Hotel, located on the west side of this very picturesque loch.
- Ardardan Estate: Approximately an hour’s drive north west of Glasgow, Ardardan Estate is a great place to not only visit their farm shop, garden nursery and café – but also enjoy a walk in the beautiful grounds which are home to a herd of Highland cows.
EDINBURGH AND THE LOTHIANS
If you’ve come to visit the landmark capital city of Edinburgh, there are places in the city and surrounding Lothians region where you can meet some Highland cows while you’re here.
- Prestonfield House: Situated to the south side of Holyrood Park, you don’t even need to leave the city to see some Highland cows. The luxurious Prestonfield House is a hotel with its own small herd within the grounds, and also some beautiful peacocks too.
- Swanston Farm: Located in the Pentland Hills to the west side of Edinburgh, Swanston Farm is a favourite with visitors. Enjoy the beautiful views of the hills and city, while meeting the farm’s lovely herd of Highland cows.
- Beecraigs Country Park: Just to the east of the city, on the outskirts of charming town of Linlithgow, Beecraigs Country Park has a herd of Highland cattle in the livestock area beside the visitor centre. You can also see some majestic red deer and Scottish Hebridean sheep.
- Smeaton Estate: Located less than an hour drive east of the city, between the villages of North Berwick and Dunbar, Smeaton Estate is home to some Highlands cows. Enjoy the beautiful parkland, woodland and lake, visit their traditional nursery garden and tea room, or stay for longer in one of the lovely holiday cottages.
SOUTH & SOUTH WEST SCOTLAND
The lowlands in the south west of Scotland and the Scottish Borders have idyllic countryside landscapes, and many historic towns and villages to explore. Plus plenty of Highland cows to see too of course!
- Auchentoshan Distillery: Located north west of Glasgow, Auchentoshan Distillery has Highland cattle grazing in the fields outside.
- Pollock Country Park, Glasgow: On the southern periphery of Glasgow city, the fantastic Pollock Country Park features many great attractions, including a herd of Highland cows that live within the grounds.
- Heads of Ayr Farm Park: Located just south of Ayr, Heads of Ayr Farm Park has its own adorable Highland cow family just waiting to meet you, among a wide variety of others animals!
- Blackstone Clydesdales: A 30-minute drive inland from Ayr, stop in at Blackstone Clydesdales farm and meet their adorable collection of farm animals, which includes a herd of Highland cows. If you’re feeling brave, why not try some horse riding too!
- Galloway Forest Park: Located in the region of Dumfries & Galloway, Galloway Forest Park is the largest forest park anywhere in the UK. It has areas of farmland where you can see Highland cattle grazing. Find out more about the local walking routes too.
- Kitchen Coos & Ewes: Further west of Galloway Forest Park, near Newton Stewart, is Kitchen Coos & Ewes at High Airyolland farm. Owners Janet and Neale are delighted to introduce visitors to their Highland cows (and sheep) on an educational buggy tour of the farm, where you can see the cows happily grazing across the beautiful hills of south Scotland, then enjoy some traditional farmhouse baking and hospitality afterwards!
- Willamwood Farm Country Cottages: Located east of the town of Dumfries, stay in one of the homely cottages at Willamwood Farm Country Cottages and enjoy meeting the Highland cows living at this beautiful working farm.
- The Hirsel Country Park, Coldstream: Right on the very border of Scotland and England near the east coast, enjoy a walk through the lovely Hirsel Country Park, and look out for the Estate’s herd of Highland Cattle. Along the way you can see the estate’s magnificent country house, and visit their museum and tearoom.
The islands along the northern and west coasts of Scotland offer dramatic scenery and some great opportunities to meet Highland cows roaming freely. Here are just some of the options, but any of the main inhabited islands are home to Highland cows.
Starting from the north and working south…
- Orkney: This collection of islands is just north east of the mainland, and full of ancient landmarks. Orkney makes a great additional stop if you’re doing the North Coast 500 route. Highland cows have been spotted near Holm – but they shouldn’t be too hard to find. Catch a ferry from Scrabster, or fly from a Scottish city airport.
- Lewis and Harris: One of the larger islands, Hushinish beach is a very scenic spot to see Highland cows on Lewis and Harris, however you’ll be able to see them in fields around the island. Catch a ferry from Ullapool, the Isle of Skye, or fly from a Scottish city airport.
- Isle of Skye: See Highland cows wandering freely on unfenced roads around Elgol in the south of the Isle of Skye. Or stay at Romesdal Highlanders B&B in the north, where you can enjoy seeing the Highland cows and beautiful views from the window. There is a road bridge crossing, and you can also catch a ferry from Mallaig.
- Barra: Highland cows wander across fields and golden beaches on the beautiful island gem of Barra. Fly from a Scottish city airport (and experience landing on a beach!), or take a ferry from Oban.
- Isle of Mull: With plenty of Highland cow sightings on the Isle of Mull, they can be quite easily found. If you have a car, try the grounds surrounding Glengorm Castle hotel at the north of the island, where the Glengor Standing Stones are. You can take a ferry from Oban to get there.
- Isle of Iona: Around the beautiful Iona Abbey, on the compact Isle of Iona, you’ll see Highland cows wandering. Take a ferry from Fionnphort in the south west of the Isle of Mull.
- Isle of Islay: Renowned for its smoky whiskies, find Highland cows roaming happily around the Isle of Islay as you enjoy taking in the views. Fly from a Scottish city airport, or take a ferry from Kennacraig.
A popular spring/summer day out in Scotland, agricultural shows are always a highlight in the regional areas – and Highland cows invariably feature in the shows! They are a great place to enjoy Scottish heritage, try our delicious local food produce, and buy crafts.
Again, starting to the north and working south…
- Black Isle Show, Inverness (August): Black Isle Show is a 1-day event held in August at Mannsfield Showground near Inverness. It offers an exciting variety of animals, displays, exhibits and stalls – including a food and craft hall, and crafts such as wool spinning demonstrations.
- The Turriff Show, Aberdeenshire (August): The largest show in northern Scotland, The Turriff Show 2-day event is a must-see, and even The Queen has attended. This show has everything, from animal displays, competitions, food and drink, entertainment, and a wide range of stalls to do some shopping.
- Banchory Show, Aberdeenshire (July): The 200-year-old Banchory Show is a 1-day event held in July in King George V Show Park. From farm livestock to highland dancing, falconry displays and a dog show, a great day out is guaranteed.
- The Angus Show (June): The Angus Show is a 2-day event held in June at Brechin Castle near Dundee. With animal shows, machinery displays, bike skill shows, crafts and bouncy castles, there’s lots for everyone to enjoy.
- Perth Show (August): Perth Show is a 2-day event held in August in the city grounds of South Inch, featuring animals, entertainment, stalls selling sweets to huge tractors, and many things in between.
- The Fife Show (May): Held just beside Cupar at Kinloss House, The Fife Show is a 1-day event held in May each year, showcasing a wide range of farm animals and delicious Scottish food and drink stalls.
- The Drymen Show, Loch Lomond (May): The Drymen Show is a 1-day event held in May in the village of Drymen, located to the south of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The show has a large variety of animal displays, activities and attractions for a hugely entertaining day out.
- The Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh (June): The largest of the agricultural shows, The Royal Highland Show is a real highlight in June. This 4-day event has everything from competitions, demonstrations and displays, to music, shopping, horse show jumping and ‘Scotland’s Larder Live’ – a showcase of Scotland’s best food and drink.
- The Border Union Show, Scottish Borders (July): Held at the Borders Events Centre in Kelso, The Border Union Show is a 2-day event in July. There’s so much to see, with various animal and art competitions, 200 trade stalls, a food fair with bars, a craft and gifts marquee, and children’s fun fair.
- Dumfries Show (August): Held at The Show Fields in Dumfries in August, the 1-day Dumfries Show includes attractions from animal displays, trade stalls, art and music, to horse show jumping and vintage farm machinery.