We left Stornoway on Day 3 of our Compass Buster tour and boarded our Wild and Sexy yellow bus, headed leisurely towards our destination for tonight – Portree, the largest town on the Isle of Skye! We were excited because this meant more adventures and exploring, of course.
Day 3 started with more epic skyscapes! You could literally be driving anywhere in Scotland and mother nature will treat you to a beautiful landscape.
We actually stopped by the site to take some pictures because of the particular beauty of the clouds and the rays of sun beaming through. It was a somber scene, because of the cemetery, but it was made even more epic because of the clouds above!
After getting back on the bus, Greg told us we’d see a number of different sites that day including a few beaches- which we would be surprised were located in Scotland, and a historic church, before heading to Portree and finishing our night there.
We were literally just back onto the road when Greg SLAMMED the brakes on our yellow bus and we thought perhaps we had hit something!!!
Little did we know we had finally come upon some of Scotland’s most majestic creatures (after the unicorn, of course!): the Hairy Coo! (Or also known as the Highland cow, Heilan’ coo or just… coo)
Just look at the stylish hairstyles these coos’ have! Adorable!
A little backstory on these Highland Cattle:
They seem to have originated in Scotland and are mentioned as far back as the 6th century. They are certainly in no danger of extinction!
“They are a hardy breed due to their native environment, the Highlands of Scotland. This results in long hair, giving the breed its ability to overwinter.”
As you can see below, we were more than a little excited to find some Hairy Coo!
After this, we would constantly be searching for Hairy Coo wherever we went! We fell in love with them!
Sidenote: we even went as far as searching for a hairy coo back at home! And voilà – here we are meeting a new friend at a farm about 20 minutes away from us. A little piece of Scotland in the suburbs of Vancouver!
The landscape and clouds continued to be amazing, matching our shadowy Hairy Coo on the cliffs.
Just look at that light glowing on that small loch. Mesmerizing! Somebody take me back to Scotland right now!
As we drove on, we continued our animal spotting and actually came across some geese…
And then we had to actually stop the bus because we found SEALS! Take a look at all those little heads bobbing in and out of the water greeting us. We took way too many pictures to count, even though we had seen seals on our trip already…
Leaving our new animal friends behind, we made our way to one of our main destinations for the day: St. Clement’s Church on the Isle of Harris.
St. Clement’s Church is very well preserved and built around the 1520’s, named after Pope Clement.
“The church was built using local Lewisian gneiss rock. Its ground plan is cruciform and there is a tower at the west end, accessible through a door at the west end of the nave and a set of stone staircases and wooden ladders.” – Wikipedia
The church was supposedly built for the Chiefs of the MacLeods of Harris, probably around 1520. Above is a photo illustrating the wall tomb that Alasdair Croatach MacLeod built for himself in 1528.
It is rather eerie how the shadow of the body still looks so present in the space!
The art work is exquisite and very well preserved.
The church had many uses throughout the centuries, from supposedly being a monastery to being used as a cow byre.
The 9th chief’s son William built his grave on the south wall of the church, while the 10th chief built a third grave in the south transept.
The graveyard which surrounds the church contains a number of MacLeod tombs.
It was in 1873 that the Countess of Dunmore restored the church and in 1907 the tower was rebuilt after being struck by lightning!
Here’s how it looks today – standing fast in the Scottish landscape.
The church was truly different than what we had seen before. It is currently under the care of Historic Scotland. For more information on visiting St. Clement’s Church, check out their website here.
The Isle of Harris was already proving eventful! The scenery was much, much different than on the Isle of Skye and we also came across some Harris Tweed which we will comment on in a future post!
Next up is some beach combing!
From Vancouver with Love,
Ioana and Natalie
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