Sarah’s Story: tossed into the air by a cow

On the 15th September, 2019, my husband and I were walking in Dartmoor National Park. We were on the bridleway from Whiteworks and heading towards Sherberton. (Grid reference 618717)

There were cows strewn over the whole area, seemingly calm. There were a few younger calves, but they weren’t tiny, more like teenagers. My husband had our golden retriever on a very short lead, and I was carrying the miniature jack Russell.

We walked through the cattle, and they didn’t take any notice, really. Not at first. The last cow that we came across looked at me. I was probably only a couple of metres away.

Suddenly, the cow put its head down and ran at me.

I turned to run. The cow hit me twice on my bum – tossing me into the air. When I landed, I stayed in the foetal position. My husband said the cattle seemed to form a barrier between us and the younger ones. They were calling for other cows to come and join them.

I just lay there, hoping the cattle would get bored and move away. After three or four minutes they did.

Although I didn’t need medical help, I had pain around my coccyx area for a few weeks. The following day I had a few weepy moments when I thought about what could have been the end result.

The dogs were unharmed. Looking back, it seems we did everything wrong.

Since the attack, we have learned that particular area on the moor has seen a number of people attacked and chased by cattle. I do wonder if it is a particularly aggressive herd and, if so, what can be done to keep walkers safe? A lady was attacked there yesterday (11th July, 2020) and was airlifted to hospital.

We saw no warning signs.


Photo credit: Richard Knights from Dartmoor Walks

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