Monday, 20 July 2015

bovine boogie woogie

In my last post, I described a walk through farmland north of Penrith, following public footpaths, that I’d explored earlier this month. It is the kind of walk that I knew Paula would enjoy, and as she’s currently in town for a family wedding, this weekend was the perfect opportunity for another look.

Where the outward path bears away from the railway at the two-fingered oak, it crosses an area of open rough pasture for several hundred metres before reaching the corner of a field. On my first visit, I kept to the left and followed the fence that was in line with my direction of travel, thus avoiding the need to climb any fences, but when I’d returned home on that occasion and checked the map, I noted that the path I was trying to follow ran along the right-hand side of the fence.

Consequently, as we approached the corner of the field, I wondered how easy it would be to cross the fence. There turned out to be a stile so rudimentary that I’d failed to spot it on my first visit, mainly because keeping left and thus outside the field seemed to be the obvious thing to do. I’d noticed on my previous visit that the cows in the field were attracted by my presence, even though that presence was on the other side of the fence:

I therefore expected our presence on the other side of the fence to attract attention, and I was right. Within a minute, we had built up a quite considerable entourage, as the following three photos show (the second is an enlarged version of the first, which was taken by Paula):

I can imagine people being intimidated by such behaviour, especially as from time to time our followers broke into a trot, but cows are docile beasts, except when protecting their calves, and they can easily be intimidated if necessary, so I didn’t feel threatened. Paula isn’t used to such close encounters with large animals, but she did accept my assurances that we weren’t in any danger, and we continued on our way, turning occasionally to discourage the bolder members of the following herd.

Eventually, we reached the far end of the field, where we found another stile. The cows that had been following us loitered around for a few minutes, seemingly disappointed that we were leaving them, before returning to their principal occupation: eating grass.

This wasn’t our only encounter with bizarre bovine behaviour. Shortly after leaving that field with all the cows, we crossed the River Petteril at a wooden footbridge, intending to recross the river at a second footbridge about 200 metres upstream. However, as we were approaching this second bridge, Paula suddenly shouted.

“It’s chasing us!”

I immediately turned round, only to see a young black bullock about two metres away, seemingly on the charge. Fortunately, in that same instant, it screeched to a halt. Well, at least it tried, but the grass was wet, and the bullock went into a spectacular four-leg skid, ending up little more than half a metre away. The following photograph was taken shortly after this close encounter.

We completed the walk without further incident.


  1. If you had had a dog with you, the cows might well have attacked: they don't like dogs!

    1. Absolutely right Peter. Fortunately, the last thing I would take anywhere is a dog, so this isn’t something I need to worry about.


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