Mooove over sister…this is our field!
I like cows, they’re normally fairly harmless. Happily chewing on the cud all day they tend to mind their own business when we’re out Geocaching, however last week we encountered their dark side…and it wasn’t pretty!
With a rare midweek day off MrBizkitz and I got ourselves togged up for a little Geocaching ‘mzadventure’ on the West Sussex coast at Chidham with a view to picking up some completed challenge caches on the way home.
Our walk began at CC01 Chidham Chase – A Thorny Problem which was the first in a five mile circuit of caches around the Chidham peninsula with a bonus at the end. Wanting to make sure we still had time at the end of the day to pick up the challenge caches, near Midhurst, we opted to take the walk at a speedy stomp. 🙂
Everything went well apart from an unexpected heavy shower, which definitely wasn’t forecast, halfway round our walk. We didn’t really mind being thoroughly drenched though as it’s kind of expected when Geocaching and we were definitely in better shape than the couple we passed on the way round who’d opted for sandals and shorts – not a good combo on this muddy walk! We finished the circuit in reasonably quick time despite struggling to find a couple of the caches – notably CC04 Chidham Chase – Cobnor Bound…if anyone has any idea where that one is we’d love a hint as we thought we’d looked quite thoroughly!
Despite our three DNF’s we still had roughly enough numbers to make an educated guess on the location of the final bonus cache and once back at the car we set the GPS up to take us on the short drive to where we thought it might be. We’re glad we did now as the final was something that we’d not come across before and we added a favourite to it for the ingenuity! Obviously I’m not going to spoil it but it’s worth having a go at the circuit just for the final!
Our real reason for the trip South though was to pick up the challenge caches that we’d worked so hard to complete, the Chidham caches were just added on because we fancied a bit of a coastal walk… 🙂
Church Micro Challenges meets angry cows…
Our drive to pick up our challenges took us North along a country lane past some places with great names like Bepton and Didling, to a random spot in the middle of nowhere! Parking on the grass verge we hopped out the car and ambled down a well worn path to pick up the Church Micro Three Counties Challenge (which we nearly couldn’t find) and the Church Micro 10K Challenge. So far so good we thought and jumped back in the car, the light was fading fast and we wanted to pick the remaining challenge caches up before we’d end up getting stuck in the rush hour traffic on the way home.
The final leg of our journey was nearly our final leg ever…pulling up on ‘Dumpford Lane’ we got our wellies on for the final time and set off for the Church Micro 50K and Church Micro 25K challenge caches….(see more about our success on completing the 50K challenge over at the post ‘Challenge completed!‘)
It wasn’t long before we bumped into a local dog walker who asked what we were up to. He was surprised to see anyone in that neck of the woods as he said there weren’t too many people that lived around there and normally he never saw anyone on his walk. We explained Geocaching to him and as we were walking in the same direction he asked if he could tag along, he was a Duke of Edinburgh instructor at a local college and so was keen to hear all of the ins and outs of our hobby. After navigating ourselves over a couple of stiles and through some fields we eventually made it to the first cache and showed him how to use our GPS’s to get close to the coordinates before rummaging around the hint items to find the cache. Thankfully we found it with no problems and he followed us to the second cache before making his way back along the same route home. He seemed to be quite impressed with it so maybe we’ve converted someone?!
The first attempt…
We finished signing the log and covered the cache back over and made our way back along the same path towards the car, pretty happy because we’d found all the caches that we’d wanted to that day. However our mood soon changed when we arrived back at the stile to get back to the car we came face to face with a field of cows. There was a calf in the field with them and a rather horny bull who was making the best of being surrounded by lots of cows by…well, you know how! Alarm bells were ringing in my head at that point but we both figured if the man and his dog had made it through then surely we’d be ok, right?!
We eased ourselves over the stile and into the field giving a wide berth to the cows, however the cows were having none of it and began marching quickly towards us to block our path. At this point I knew they were feeling territorial and a little more alert than usual, possibly a combination of the horny bull, the calf and the fact that a dog had just walked through the field who knows?! But we retreated calmly(ish) back to the stile and hopped over it just as the cows surrounded it and thus our only chance of getting back into the field. We tried opening our arms wide to get them to move away from the stile but they were being particularly stubborn and making a few fairly unnerving noises and so we knew we’d have to look for another way.
Our second attempt…
Having had a similar experience on the Isle of Wight we knew that if cows didn’t want you there then there was really no hope so I scanned the map and suggested another route to MrBizkitz. However he said that it would take too long, and to be fair it was starting to get fairly dark, so we briskly walked back to where we’d found the last cache and climbed over the gate at the bottom of the same field in the hope that we could give them a wider berth and hopefully give them the slip!
We could see the cows at the top of the field and most of them had gone back to grazing and seemed to be happy enough so we thought we might be able to make it. It was only after walking halfway across the field that the cows clocked us and began ambling their way over to us that I started to feel uneasy. Probably just curious I thought and kept walking. Their amble soon became a charge though and with around 20 cows thundering towards MrBizkitz and I there was only one option left for us – to get over the nearby, barbed wire, fence into the unknown…at this point I’ll admit I was quite scared! MrBizkitz clocked the cows just as I was saying ‘we need to get out of this field…NOW!’ and we both spun round to look for a suitable place to dive through the fence. Sprinting over I managed to squeeze myself through but my jacket got caught on the barbed wire…frantically trying to get myself free so MrBizkitz could join me, I found where I was stuck, got myself out of its grip, and opened the fence up just in time for MrBizkitz to get safely through with me.
The cows were right up to the fence by the time MrBizkitz got through and we could feel the breath on the backs of our necks from their irate mooing as we assessed the situation. It was pretty dire. Balanced precariously on a muddy ledge with the angry cows right next to us there was now only one way for us to go…down into the muddy stream below. 🙁 We were both barely through the fence and the cows looked as if they might try and barge their way through at any moment. Their angry mooing was at an all time high, and so there really was no choice but to slide down the bank into the deep muddy waters below…
Within an instant the cold murky water was up and over the tops of my wellies and all I could think was…‘this is not good…’ the mud sucked at my wellies as I waded further in to let MrBizkitz join me in the stream. To say we were in a bit of a pickle was an understatement!
Thinking that there might be a bit of respite in the field on the opposite side of the stream I looked through the trees only to come face to face with MORE cows!! Dang, I thought miserably. We were now barricaded in by overhanging trees and large overgrown bushes all along the bank, and it was getting darker by the minute…double dang.
There was only one way out and that was to continue down the stream in the direction of the car, with the hope that we’d be able to climb safely out somewhere at the end. It was starting to feel like an episode of 999…
MrBizkitz was wearing a waterproof jacket so I carefully passed him my phone to zip into his pocket incase I fell in the drink, then we started to fight our way through the trees and muddy water down the stream. When we thought we’d be giving the cows the slip we never thought we’d be giving them the slipstream!
The water inevitably got deeper the further we went and there were a few times we both slipped. Putting our hands out to steady ourselves on the banking wasn’t ideal either as we kept grabbing nettles and brambles which just added to the drama of it all haha!
Eventually we reached a fairly clear bit of the stream and could see into the field opposite the one that we’d tried in vain to get through earlier. We could see the cows much further down the field and knew that this was our last chance to get back onto dry land…
Scrabbling and slipping up the muddy bank we carefully and quietly made our way over a fence, stealthily along the edge of the field and back over one final barbed wire fence before reaching some relative safety!
Looking around I realised we’d managed to climb into a fishery which meant there had to be a sensible exit, and there was. Phew!
Emptying our wellies of water and mud we looked at each other and laughed. We’d survived our cow dodging incident with only wet trousers, a few cuts and scrapes and a funny story to tell. We were lucky.
We squelched our way back to the car parked on the aptly named ‘Dumpford Lane‘, and I couldn’t help thinking yup, we’ve been well and truly dumped in the ford this time!
Even the drive home wasn’t without incident, we got something stuck in the wheel arch of the car and had to stop to take the tyre off to get it out! What a day! Still, all’s well that ends well eh?!
- Cows can be harmless but who knows if they’re being curious or defensive and is it really worth the risk?
- Don’t enter a field with a bull in it.
- Don’t enter a field with a calf in it if you can’t make it to the other side without going through the middle of them.
- Always take the long route.
- Don’t listen to MrBizkitz when he says let’s take a shortcut…
Cows spend around 8 hours a day chewing the cud which totals around 40,000 jaw movements a day!
For more of my tips on cow dodging you can check out my previous post…’Cow attacks…Geocaching safety tips‘ although in hindsight I’m not sure if they will help you!
Have you ever had any problems with cows whilst Geocaching? Have you got any safety tips? I’d love to hear from you 🙂
Happy safe caching everyone!