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Woodland Edge

All's well that ends well...

A photo of sign warning people that bulls are present in the field

Two National Forest Way rangers, Maxine and Chris, improvise their way through a field of cows: they know how it should be done, but we read how they actually manage, with hilarious results. Overall, a message about being wary enough but not letting it stop you having a good walk. Happy walking this year, everyone!

“The most important thing to remember when you’re in a field full of excitable and inquisitive cows is not to get pinned up against a fence – stay well in the middle so they can’t accidentally squash you”. 

My words drifted away into thin air as I turned to Chris and saw that in response to the speedy approach of a herd of young bullocks she had already bolted for the fence and was disappearing into a thick hedge of nettles.  “Oh and don’t turn your back on them - or run,” I muttered.  Who knew she had it in her to leap an electric fence with such grace?  I’m not sure what took more effort, gamely shooing the cows away with loud shouts and arm waving or coaxing Chris back out of the hedge.

Having cleared the bullock field we were faced with a new field of extremely bouncy young lady cows who, while more easily shooed away, were extremely keen to be near us and were equally as challenging to escape from.

Funny, in retrospect. The fact is that according to The Health & Safety executive:

On average 4 or 5 workers and members of the public are killed in accidents involving cattle each year. The fatal accidents involving cattle usually involve members of the public present in fields, often with a dog.”

If you’re on a pre-determined trail as we were on part of Stage 4 of the National Forest Way, it’s not always possible to avoid farm livestock or to know that you’ll face this challenge. The best advice should you find yourself in a similar situation to ours is:

Turn quietly to face the cattle with arms outstretched. Walkers are advised to remain calm and refrain from making any startling or quick movements when they come across cows”.  The wild gesticulation and shouting that worked for us isn’t, apparently, advised: we proceeded diagonally across the field, side by side in space invader fashion making whooping noises.

And if, like us and many other walkers, you have a dog with you, the advice is: “Keep the dog under close control, but do not hang on to it should a cow or bull start acting aggressively.”  This I knew, so I did let my dog off the lead in the hope he would distract the herd while we scrambled over the stile. Unfortunately he chose instead to seek shelter between my knees. 

It’s a pity there’s no CCTV in a field – the sight of Chris, the dog and me all fighting to be first over the stile would surely have got a lot of ‘views’ on You Tube.