ELGOL TO LOCH AINON
Leaving later in the day was a good idea, and meant that the journey back was reasonably straight forward, even though the road was barely wide enough for Thebus in many places
On our way there in the early morning I had passed a herd of russet coated Highland cattle, one in particular with enormously wide and handsome horns was standing stock still at the roadside close by the farmhouse waiting for the morning ration of cattle nuts. I would guess she was the matriarch of the herd, who, although not quite off the roadway had no intention of moving, so I had to inch past and hope that she didn’t decide to toss her head at a fly just as Thebus was passing.
On the return journey she was there again, alone this time, but in almost precisely the same spot, though now with horns projecting even further as she anxiously looked down the road. I thought at first she was watching for the approaching farmer bearing the evening’s bounty, but no, it transpired she was watching out for her herd companions trudging towards her up the narrow roadway. Once again we inched past those magnificent but very pointy horns, then had to wait, as in twos and threes the rest of the herd straggled past us.
Following them, and looking somewhat sheepish - if people herding cattle can look sheepish - were a couple with a dog on a lead. They were obviously tourists simply taking an evening stroll in the area and must have come upon the cattle browsing the verges. The cattle, seeing the dog and a couple of people, assumed they were being herded, so simply walked ahead, though in that painstakingly slow way cattle have of moving when they are not really interested in the proceedings, but somewhat resignedly fall in with what they assume are your wishes
I think I remember reading somewhere that the Oxford English Dictionary definition of bovine included ‘large’ and ‘slow-moving’, and thinking that whoever wrote that hadn’t been chased by a herd of frisky heifers, or for that matter seen the antics of a matronly milking herd, when they are let out after their winter confinement for a first taste of spring grass, and seen them kick up their heels and cavort round the field with tails up and udders swinging wildly. But tonight these were true to the dictionary definition.
Finally they all made it past Thebus and the following couple complete with dog continued on their way, though whether they then added the standing matriarch to their plodding herd I was not sure
Having eventually made it back to the main road I had intentions of spending the night in a nearby caravan park, but of course not having been able to phone ahead due to lack of phone signal when I arrived the lady took one look at Thebus and said there was not room for him, but if I wanted I could spend the night on their carpark, though there would be no electric hook up. So with no electric, no internet and no view I thought I could do better and we continued on our way, and within a few miles came to a reasonably flat layby, which although on the main road had a lovely view out over Loch Ainon to the island of Scalpay, so pulling over we spent the night there before setting of again early next morning.