Crieff Cowches Art Trail

July 31, 2019 by Perthshire Creates

Historically Crieff has been an important market place for highland cow trading, but over the summer you’ll see rather a more colourful and stationary sort of coo in the streets. The ‘Crieff Cowches’, which runs from 1 July until 6 September, is a trail of cow-shaped benches dotted throughout the town.

In the 1700’s up to 30,000 cattle would pass through Crieff in a year. Sensibly not all of this 30,000 have been represented and instead Crieff Succeeds have opted for a more manageable eleven cows on the trail. Each of the cows has a unique design, selected from over 70 submissions, by artists including Liz Paterson, Katy Galbraith, Hamish Bigg, and Ceri White.

‘A Heilan’ Cowch’ by artist Catherine Redgate, sponsored by Campbells Bakery

After the trail ends, the cows will be auctioned off to help raise money for the Scottish Charity Air Ambulance. Currently the charity operates one helicopter and one rapid response vehicle and it is hoped that, with a major fundraising campaign, a second helicopter can be put into use.

Katy Galbraith, a mosaic artist living in Perthshire, was keen to get involved in the project, ‘partially as I had always wanted to mosaic a large sculptural public art trail piece, but also because as a Crieff resident for 20 years (though I now live a bit further out), I wanted to contribute something to my community. Also, the Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance is such a great charity’.

Although she notes, ‘what a challenge it was. The texture of the cow was my biggest one, as it caused me many technical problems, with each tile having to be cut to shape to work around the various curves. It was also a really short time scale to produce a mosaic on such a large scale, so I had to put in some really long days. In total, I put in approx. 260 hours in 30 working days, and a volunteer team contributed a further 120 hours’.

‘Sweetie Annie’, mosaic artist Katy Galbraith’s Crieff Cowch, sponsored by Gordon & Durward

These volunteers included one paramedic for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance and the co-owner of Gordon & Durward sweet shop, who sponsored the cowch. Others ‘came from all over, some local, some mosaic artists from around Scotland and even a mosaic artist from Manchester!

Katy working with Paramedic and mosaic volunteer John Pritchard from Scottish Charity Air Ambulance

Despite the hours Katy enjoyed the process and says, ‘the whole experience has given me the confidence to tackle larger community driven projects in mosaic and already I am looking at a future project based on benches made in mosaic. Fingers crossed!’  You can find Katy’s bench, ‘Sweet Annie’, by the Crieff Town Hall.

trail map detailing the cowches locations can be downloaded from the Visit Crieff website, and there is also an opportunity to unscramble a secret message if you find all the cows. Alternatively you should find a hard copy of the map in Campbell’s Bakery, The Crieff Food Company, Gordon & Durward, the Red Squirrel Café and the town hall. The trail stretches from the high street to Innerpeffray Library, which is about 4 miles from Crieff and well worth a visit too, being Scotland’s first lending library.

There are also plenty of opportunites to bask in all the wonderful bovine puns on offer, such as the ‘Emoojis’ cow by Sinead O’Malley and ‘Moodnight Gardens’ by Ceri White – moosic to your ears I’m sure. And if you’re into photography, there is currently a Crieff Cowches calendar competition running. Send your photos to by 1 September and you may be one of the eleven winners.

You may also see some more permanent metal cows (Crieff’s Leafy Coos) while you’re there – I know, so many cows, so little time. And if this has whetted your cow-themed-walking appetite then there is annual Drovers Tryst Walking Festival which runs from 5-12 October.

Copy kindly provided by Andrew Jameson, working as a Perthshire Creates Content Volunteer, one of the various volunteering opportunities available within Culture Perth & Kinross

Top image shows ‘Crieff Highland Gathering Cowch’ by June McEwan