Coast To Coast Diary

> Day Seven

SATURDAY 4th JULY 2009

COWS


My female pack leader wanted me to call this chapter PUBLIC ENEMIES, as I told her the story of the day’s walking and me being hurled over a wall with barb wire on the top just narrowly missing and ripping me to shreds then landing down to earth with a bump whilst my PL ran for his life after he had hurled me over the wall and previous to this Nicky diving over a different wall then PL jumps over the wall from the twenty or so beasts advancing on him I have no doubt who my public enemies are, yes you’ve guessed it dear reader, its cows. She wanted me to call it Public Enemies because at the time all this mayhem was occurring in the battlefield, on what should be a lovely serene coast to coast walk, she was comfortably sitting in the picture house with number one son Tom behind a lady who ate popcorn all through the performance watching Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp. You see she is a big Johnny Depp fan and that would be her way of sneaking him into my story. But I see through her little scheme of trying to get me to mention Johnny Depp or his new movie Public Enemies, so this chapter will be called COWS, no mention of Mr Depp or his new film in this chapter thank you very much mam!

I will start my story today from the bench that we sat on at the end of the last section, remember the auld Jakey? We said goodbye to Smithy at 9 o’clock, crossed the road and up the main street of Shap looking for the Kings Arms on the right so we can turn left directly opposite up a narrow street called Moss Grove.

Then after some houses we cross over the main west coast railway line. Up a path with walls on either side then we cross over a field with some cows at the far end. As we get near the cows we see that they are blocking the way to the stone stile that we have to cross. They have obviously no intention of moving as Nicky mentions to PL that he is scared of the giant beasts.

One of them looks up at us but especially at me then starts walking towards us. We then give it a wide berth by walking further up the field to a part of the wall that has partly fallen down. We cross this then walk back down to where we should be if we would have crossed the stone stile. As we approach we are horrified to see that the wall that separates the cows from us is completely flattened and a few of the beasts are making for this in an attempt to get at us, mainly me! We make a run for it and get over the last stone stile before the big slow cumbersome beasts reach the fully demolished part of the wall.

Safe now as we walk towards the pedestrian bridge over the M6 motorway and hope there will be no more close encounters with the steaks on legs. We go up onto the bridge and PL is jumping joyously around telling me that this is his office underneath us. You see PL is a lorry driver and has been for 25 years so he regularly uses the 3 main arteries that we will cross on the coast to coast, namely the M6, the A1, and the A19. So here we are crossing the first of these and PL is very excited as he is telling us that he has driven under here probably thousands of times in the last quarter century. He gets me up to have a look at all the big Lorries that are passing underneath.

Moving on, passing the Nab farmhouse then crossing over the Quarry up a track to the walled hamlet of Oddendale. Turning right here on a track inclining and passing some limestone pavements then down the other side passing a huge boulder on path. Then another gentle slope upwards before the path drops down to join the minor road to Crosby Ravensworth. Turning right and walking along this road we join the much busier Appleby road.

After the cattle grid we go left and drop down into the village of Orton and straight into a funeral procession…. As we were walking down the lane we could see all these people walking along the road at the bottom in one direction. As we got closer we could see they were all dressed in black and it was obvious it was a funeral. On crossing the road to see the signs at the other side we had to mingle through the procession. PL read the signs and he said it said left to the church and right to the town, so we turned right, the same direction as the couple of hundred or so people coming from the church. As we started walking it became obvious that we weren’t going to pass anybody here, we were completely hemmed in and PL was mortified. So we had to walk the same pace as all the mourners, a snails pace.

Still it was nice to get a little breather and I thought I would make the best of the situation and stick my snout up the fat ladies dress in front of me to catch a whiff. PL spotted what I was up too and yanked the lead in so I was walking right next to his leg and couldn’t get up to any mischief. We looked like three Wally’s dressed in all our walking gear (well I was wearing my black fur coat) and all sweaty and dirty from the distance we had covered this morning, in amongst all these finely dressed people mourning one of their own who had recently passed on. When we finally got to the main road we turned left and the mourners went straight across the road up the hill, presumably to the graveyard where they would all eventually end up. Just as they were crossing the road a thoughtful farmer pulled up in his tractor to let them all cross and Nicky said quietly to PL ‘looks like he will be there all day then’.

Leaving the village on the Tebay road then left on the B6261, slanting across a field to Knott Lane. Over a stile on the wall looking for a stone circle that none of us could spot. This path would take us across a couple of fields and drop us out at the road at Acres Farm and it was on this path that world war three started!

We meandered along quietly minding our own business then came across a field with some cows in it. One of them was blocking the gate and as we approached the stile another beast stood in front of that. After a while of trying to get over the stone stile we dropped back. There were only two of them but they were acting very aggressively towards us and I think especially me. PL noticed some lovely little ponies running towards us in the other field and took a few snaps of them.

PL said ‘we need to get past the cows or we will be here all day’ and Nicky said that he was not keen on cows at the best of times except when they were on his plate. PL asked Nicky to try and draw them away from the stile by going further down the wall. That did not work so PL took me further down the wall to see if that would do the trick. It didn’t. So Nicky went to the end of the gate and they followed leaving the stile free for PL and I to get over safely then Nicky hurried over behind us and all three were in the field.

The three musketeers ride again, one for all and sod the rest! PL was saying that he liked Nicky’s style on drawing the cows away from the stile when he noticed two cows walking towards us from the right. The cows looked very menacing and PL said he did not like the look of this. We looked back at the gate to see what the two cows that we tricked were doing and sure enough they were walking towards us too

On turning round again to look at the first two menacing cows to see what was going on there they were now being followed by the rest of the herd. All the cows in the field now were walking in our direction. This comes only two weeks to the day that poor woman vet was crushed to death by cows on the Pennine way path at Hawes in Yorkshire as she was out walking her dogs. As we were walking briskly away from them PL said to Nicky if the worst comes to the worst, Nicky could jump over the wall then PL would pick me up and hand me safely over to Nicky then PL to would climb over to safety (good plan). We looked round to see to our horror they were running at us and were very close now ... PL was shouting to Nicky ‘get over the wall’ but I doubt if Nicky herd, sorry, heard him as he darted to a corner of the wall being pursued by a couple of thousand steaks. The next thing I knew I was being picked up by PL and he was running towards the wall. He was shouting for Nicky but Nicky was not there. I could just see Nicky’s arse disappear over the wall in the far corner being helped over by two massive beasts as his cries went out “f***ing Bas***ed cows”. I was being lifted higher up now and I could see that the rest of the beasts were advancing on us and they were only feet away. The next thing I remember was being launched by PL into mid air as he darted to another part of the wall in his bid for safety. It was a good throw but a bit to close for comfort for me as I came sailing down past the barbed wire top crashing onto the ground and the safety of the other side of the wall. PL was clambering over the wall at the far side but the cows were not bothering with him anymore, they were walking along the wall at the other side seemingly getting in front of us for some reason. PL caught us up but Nicky was raging and he was hanging over the wall pointing his finger at the cows that had been kind enough to help him over the wall.

He was shouting all sorts of swear words at the cows now and it’s a good job that they were over that side of the wall cos he was telling them what he was going to do to them if he got the chance. PL informed Nicky that he would GET that chance sooner than he thought as the wall that we were walking along on one side and the cows were walking along on the other side steadily reduced to the ground just up ahead, and that was what the cows were doing; they were trying to head us off!

Nicky forgot all of the things he was going to do to the cows as the three of us tore down that field Linford Christie style towards the wall at the end and this time no Olympic gold medallist cow was going to catch us. We got to the stile and all got over safely to be on our way but Nicky turned round and I’m sure he was about to shout something to the cows but thought better of it as we went on our way on this never to be forgotten section of the coast to coast. After going through the fields we turned left on the road at Acres Farm then going past Sunbiggin Farm (and it was a bigin), then passing Stoney Head Farm down to Sunbiggin Tarn. We turned right on the road for about 100 yards then took a path left off the road but this was obviously wrong as it was taking us straight down to Cow Dub, Sunbiggins subsidiary pool. As we were correcting ourselves there was a man and a woman walking two dogs in the distance and he was waving his arm and pointing to where the coast to coast path was, it was not in our view. PL gave a wave of thanks as we made our way up and eventually onto the path. As we were well on our way we looked back to see the people that were behind us on most of the mornings walk standing at Cow Dub looking at a map and scratching their heads cartoon style. Nicky remarked that they probably done the same as us. We never saw them again.

Now on a distinctive path across Ravenstonedale Moor and as it reached the road it petered out into lots of little paths. We were unsure if this was the road we should have been on or it could be the road at the bottom. Just as the humans were discussing it a helpful farmer came along on his quad with his dogs and put us right. Yes, it was the right road we were on and we went up to the wall at the top, turned right and had our break at the underground reservoir. Our instructions said stick to the wall on the right until after Begin Hill and a clear waymarked stile crosses the wall. We stuck to the wall but did not see any clear waymarked stile, only a gate at one point. Should we have taken the gate or did we miss the stile? Because the wall we stuck to was the wrong wall and that lead us down into a little village we know now to be Crosby Garrett. We did not have an o/s map with us (mistake) and the book we were following didn’t have the village in it. After reading an information board in the village PL asked a lady with a dog the quickest way to Kirkby Stephen. The lady put us right on the quickest way but she said we might be able to get back on the coast to coast route in another village. We asked her if there was a shop in the village. She said there was one but was closed on Saturday’s! We thanked her and went on our way, a way that took us towards Smardale.

We wanted a shop because having run out of water a while back I for one was very thirsty and overheating. It was bad judgement on PL’s behalf to bring so little water on such a big stretch (20 miles) and he was carrying a big flask of tea, which he never even touched. I hoped he would learn by his mistakes’. It was decided that we would not pursue the coast to coast route as time was getting on and Smithy would be waiting for us in the sherpa at Kirkby Stephen. So we walked through Smardale then past Waitby School and down the hill into Waitby. The day started well and we enjoyed the first part of the walk but the general consensus now was let’s get it over with.

We had walked a considerable distance, had no water, had taken three wrong turns and were tired. The signpost in Waitby was pointing to the left for Kirkby Stephen but PL said this did not look right at all as two pointers were pointing up the same road. He went up to the signpost and pushed the Kirkby Stephen pointer and it moved. We are not having this he said. This could have been a couple of locals playing a practical joke on some lost unsuspecting coast to coasters to send them the wrong way again. Nicky agreed and went into a driveway where a woman farmer was sitting on a quad with her kids around. She pointed us in the right direction which was not the direction the pointer was pointing! As we went on our way she past us in the quad. We went back to the signpost and took the right road this time but as we rounded the corner the same woman that had directed us was standing in the road stopping any traffic that may come round the corner because she was letting her cows out onto the road and taking them to another field. ‘Bas***d cows again’ Nicky said ‘I’m sick of them today.’ PL said to Nicky that he may as well roll a ciggy as we were not going anywhere for a while as the traffic started to build up behind the cows. 2 cars, not bad for a Saturday, I wondered if one of them was the shop keeper from Crosby Garrett, I mean, imagine closing on a Saturday, only in the country eh! After the cows where all safely in the field (we weren’t taking any chances) we were on our way to Kirkby Stephen and hopefully a rendezvous with Smithy and the sherpa who should be waiting there.

Our walk in to Kirkby Stephen was uneventful but as we approached the town it suddenly got darker then the heavens opened up and we had to take shelter under a tree for a while. PL said we had now been there 10 minutes and that was enough we would just have to start walking again even though we would get soaked as the rain was still very heavy. We won’t bother putting our waterproofs on as we were only minutes from the town PL said. Down the hill turning right up the main street they spotted a sign for Frank’s bridge were we will start the next section of the walk. Or should I say we will start the next section of the walk depending where Smithy is parked now, then we will go to Frank’s bridge. Walking up the street we spot Smithy parked outside the chip shop, not the coast to coast chip shop, but the Horseshoe chip shop. PL dries me off and gets me a bottle of water from the newsagents and I drink it all. With that we were quickly on our way home and I fell asleep in the back as I was so tired after my 20 or so miles today and I don’t even think I had a dream about cows!