Sophie’s Story: chased by a bellowing cow

On the 26/11/2019, I was walking with my friend along a public bridleway through a field, near Lartington, County Durham. (Grid Ref NZ015168).

We’d already been through several fields of sheep and cattle, with my two dogs, both on a short lead. In the previous field there had been cows with calves but, although interested in us, they just kept themselves to themselves.

This field was different. It was a large field with a large group of cattle – around 30 cows at a guess. We made sure before we went into the field that we knew where we were going. About half way across, the cows got excited and started running across the footpath. Then they started making their way towards us.

We had nowhere else to go, and we continued with purpose walking through them and headed towards the gate. They got closer and one of my dogs barked a warning bark. She gave three barks, and this is what kicked the whole episode off.

I caught sight of one big black cow out of the corner of my eye. She was about a foot away, right behind my right shoulder. She lowered her head and let out a bellow that I’ll never forget. Then she charged.

It was terrifying. Absolutely terrifying.

I dropped the leads and ran for my life towards the gate. It didn’t help that one of my dogs wouldn’t leave my side, because the cow was after me and my dog. It was so frightening. I got to the gate, threw it open, and got the dogs on the other side onto a track (a disused railway). I closed the gate and looked to see if my friend was still on her feet, fully expected to be dialing 999…

My friend was totally surrounded by circling / running / excited cattle, bellowing and kicking off. Fortunately she is experienced around cattle and just stood still. The cows parted and left a gap, and she was able to get to the gate without incident. I would not have fared so well as I had the dogs with me.

 Until today I have been respectful of cattle in fields, but never frightened at all. That has now all changed.

Neither of us were injured, and the dogs were unharmed, but we were badly frightened.

We didn’t see any warning signs in the field. I have reported then incident to the Ramblers via their website, but the report was anonymous and didn’t seem to go anywhere. I felt it was a bit of waste of time.

I really think the farmer should be contacted and informed of the incident. Next time a walker might not be so lucky. That cow was after us, and I dread to think what would have happened if I wasn’t fit and couldn’t run fast.

There was another footpath with a bull in it along the route we were going to go, but we decided the weather and conditions were too poor, so we turned back. Pleased we didn’t go in with him.

I have every right to walk on a public right away without feeling that my life is threatened. It’s not right.

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