They don’t come much bigger and stronger than Pete Hart, but the Highland Games athlete finally met his match when he faced off against Hamish the Highland Coo Van in a tug o’war.
The 6ft 6ins, 25 stone strongman was at the Royal Highland Showground in Edinburgh to help VisitScotland promote the work of its small herd of mobile information centres, which will be appearing at a number of Highland Games over the next few weeks.
One of the coos: Hamish, Heather, Morag or Archie, will be seen at the Bridge of Allan Highland Games on Sunday (6 August), the Crieff Highland Gathering on 20 August and the Braemar Gathering, which is regularly attended by Her Majesty the Queen, on 2 September.
Pete was joined in Edinburgh by Katie Bell, one of VisitScotland’s eight specially trained coo-visors, who are responsible for steering the coos around the country over the summer.
Since hitting the road at the end of March, members of the national tourism organisation’s friendly fleet have been spotted at 23 events across the country, including the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William, the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Crail Food Festival in Fife, the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival in Portsoy, Aberdeenshire, and at Glasgow Mela.
They have also been at more than 125 different visitor attractions, partner sites and tourism hotspots on a day-to-day basis and will appear at many more before finishing up for the year in early November.
The vans are part of VisitScotland’s strategy to provide inspiration to visitors in new and innovative ways and in doing so extend a ‘personal touch’ to outreach marketing activity, passing on distinctive information about things to see and do throughout the country.
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “We have been mobilising our workforce to deliver the best information to every corner of Scotland through face-to-face and digital channels, including our online community platform, a fleet of coo vans and other outreach activity. The coo vans, in particular, have become a real talking point among visitors to events across Scotland, and they will be a popular addition to the Highland Games they are attending over the coming weeks.”
Pete Hart said: “The Highland Games are a fantastic part of Scotland’s history and culture. I’ve been lucky enough to attend events up and down the country and not only is it an opportunity for me to test my strength, but it’s also a fun way to see and experience different parts of Scotland. Whether it’s tug o’ war, tossing the caber, or my speciality – throwing – it’s always great to see so many people celebrating traditions that have been honoured for generations.”
Scott Jarvie, Director of the Bridge of Allan Highland Games, said: “Bridge of Allan Highland Games are excited that a VisitScotland coo van will be joining us for this year’s 166th Games on Sunday 6 August. Nestled between The National Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle, the Games are an ideal starting point for visitors to explore our beautiful and historic country.”
Ian Stewart, Chairman of the Crieff Highland Gathering, said: “Crieff Highland Gathering is delighted to once again welcome back a VisitScotland Highland coo van to our event. The van was hugely popular with all ages last year and where better to showcase it than alongside the many other attractions at one of Scotland’s premier Highland Games? From traditional events such as the caber toss, Highland dancing and athletics to the hugely popular music tent featuring Tide Lines, Ross Ainslie & Ali Hutton and the Rollin Drones, Crieff Highland Gathering has something for everyone.”
David Geddes, President of the Braemar Royal Highland Society, said: “Braemar Gathering is pleased to welcome VisitScotland’s promotional coo van to our event on 2 September. The seated area of the park is selling fast but plenty ground tickets are available. These can be purchased in advance or at the gates. A full day of sports from 9.30am until 5pm is promised with food and refreshments available and, of course, don’t forget to visit the coo vans.”