You. Shall. Not. Pass.
A short Scottish tale of Highland cows on the footpath
A Scottish vignette from the Travel Tales archive. Enjoy the highland mist!
Walking on a remote, three-mile path between two villages in the Scottish West Highlands, I am caught in a sudden downpour for which I am definitely not dressed. The sky has opened up and I am completely drenched. I slog on through the mud, with less than a mile to go. Around the next bend, to my dismay, are seven very large, very wet highland cows blocking the path. Because of the steep acclivity on one side and the sharp drop-off of the brae on the other, I am unable to skirt around them. I talk to them calmly, asking them politely to step aside and let me through. They look at me and listen, not without sympathy, their eyes nearly hidden by their fringes. They answer in unison, “You. Shall. Not. Pass.”
They are gentle creatures, but they are huge; each one weighing over 1,000 pounds, so there is nothing for it but to turn around and go back in the direction from which I came. A few depressing yards into my return, I see up ahead an older woman stomping toward me. Her knit cap is pulled down below her ears, her anorak zipped up to her chin, rubber wellies up to her knees. She carries a plastic TESCO bag. When she is in front of me, I grimace and wish her a “Good morning”. With a stoic smile, she gives one curt nod and with typical Scottish understatement, adds, “A bit damp”.
Without breaking her stride, she continues on past me. She no doubt walks four miles a day just to pick up her mail, and it is not the first time she has been rained on. The cows probably know her by name and will move to let her through. I step in just behind her, timorously slipping through the herd of bovine hooligans in her wake, and arrive in the next village just as the rain stops.
Here are three minutes in Scotland with lovely Scottish music and cows, if you have never seen them. Scottish Highland Cows
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