A Casual Walk

There are always days when I do not feel very motivated to work. This was one of those days. To be productive in some way I decided to go dog walking on my own and this would have been a good idea had they been open. As I drove off I saw a member of staff stepping into a disinfectant boot wash which looked suspiciously like they were trying to get rid of kennel cough, but there was nothing I could do. Not wanting to go back to flat too soon, I drove to a part of the canal where I had always wanted to walk and had not yet been able too. Despite the huge, lake- like puddles in the car park it was a sunny day and I made it onto the towpath, overtook a man throwing bread to the ducks and wandered over a bridge.

As I stepped over the stile the smell of fresh cow poo hit me but living in the countryside for two years as a student has helped me to tolerate the smell so that it didn’t bother me at all. With no cows in sight I carried on walking down a well beaten path and eventually came upon the herd. I wasn’t scared, they seemed to be minding their own business and as I stared out over the fields, railway track and cooling towers of the power station I felt calm.

It was only after I had taken a few pictures and wandered round a bit that the cows started to look at me. They were blocking the path and, as a lone walker I didn’t want to push past them for fear of getting trodden on. The longer I stayed though, the more interested in me they became and I don’t know whether they thought I had food or not but they started to approach me. At first it was only a few of them and they stopped when I held up my hand. But then I tried to walk away.

I was becoming increasingly uneasy and when I turned round to walk back to the bridge I heard the trampling of hooves behind me. I don’t know much about cows, but I do know that they are big and these ones had horns included in the package. I started to back away and was a little scared when they started to follow me. All of them.

A young grey cow ran excitedly towards me but thankfully sticking my arm out in front of me was enough to stop her in her tracks. It wasn’t enough to stop them following me and so I walked backwards for about two hundred metres as they advanced slowly. I must confess that I was incredibly scared and even though they probably meant me no harm I couldn’t help thinking that if I turned my back, that would be their que to run at me and I would be tossed up in the air. The imagination is sometimes not your best friend.

I had now started to walk (still backwards) past a line of trees that overhung the canal, in my head I had planned to climb them if the cows decided to run at me but then I would have been stuck up a tree and possibly have to be rescued by my friends. That would have been way too mortifying! The cows seemed hesitant to follow me past the trees and the gap between the herd and I increased from less than a meter to maybe 20. This gave me a bit more space to breathe and I kept on walking backwards, knowing that the bridge was close now and I didn’t have that far to go.

In the end a pigeon was my savior. As I led the herd into its patch of trees it had obviously become annoyed and decided to flap noisily away with the characteristic clapping sound that pigeons are known for. Fortunately for me this scared the cows and a few of them leapt into the air and ran away. This left only a few, including an old, woolly headed cow that had been the one most intent on following me. She eyed me with slight contempt as I made a run for the safety of the bridge and I know this was probably because after all the walking, I had not led her to a pile of tasty treats.

As I sat with my legs dangling over the bridge, trying to get my heart beat under control, I saw a family of coots bobbing under a weeping willow. I understand why water can be a safe haven and one of my emergency plans to evade being trampled by cows was to jump into the canal and swim to the other side. That was as a last resort though, no one wants to have to explain to people why they are wet through when there hasn’t been rain for two days.

Even though it would have been nice to have some moral support in the situation, I was quite glad that no one was there to hear me feebly say ‘stop’ over and over in the vain hope that the cows would understand. Also the constant swearing and heavy breathing would have been hard to live down.

And so, what is the moral of the story? For a start maybe walking on my own was not a good idea, even though I had my phone with me, what would have been the use of calling one of my friends whilst walking backwards away from a herd of cows? Secondly, walking on your own in a field of cows is also not a good idea, unless, like one of my friends, you have lived on a farm and regularly hang out with them. Now I know that I should have waved manically at them but my instinct at the time said that this could have made them want to trample me. This experience really made me feel like a “towny” but I won’t let that deter me from going on walks again. Next time though I will take a friend.

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