Tarn Hows, one of my favourite places in the Lakes, is blessed with the most beautiful setting of ‘hows’ or hills in the Cumbrian dialect which surround a small body of water comprising three smaller joint-up tarns. Alongside the tarn is an established footpath, with branches going off into surrounding woodlands for the visitor to explore. We were there recently with both Zack and Horatio, the latter our new addition to the family.
Our aim was to walk around Tarn Hows. It is a gentle walk suitable for elderly dogs like Zack, with excellent opportunities for him and Horatio to sniff and enjoy. It would be a lovey day out in a scenic setting, and an uneventful perambulation like all our other walks have been. Or so we thought.
It was as we were halfway round the tarn that our walk suddenly took on an exciting turn. Hubby and the dogs always walk at a steady pace. I, on the other hand, dawdle because I take photos along the way. If Hubby turns around and I am not in sight, he will stop and wait for me to catch up.
On this sunny afternoon, as per my usual habit, I was lagging behind Hubby and the dogs. They were not far ahead of me and I was just crouching to take a photograph when I looked up to see Hubby suddenly walking very purposely ahead with the boys trotting calmly at his side until they had disappeared. This was unusual behaviour but I knew he would wait for me further ahead until I caught up with them. My focus was on what I was seeing in front of me rather than on what was around me. This would soon change.
As I got up from my crouch and began hotfooting along the path, I looked across to my right. There, I saw the reason for Hubby’s quick removal of the dogs. There was a herd of Belted Galloways grazing at the edge of the woodland just yards from the main footpath on which we were on.
With no knowledge of cows nor the temperament of their breed, and with two dogs which might well have reacted adversely, Hubby had thought it was best to remove them as quickly and quietly as he could from the cattle’s vicinity. These cows look very gentle and were certainly curious. Whilst not approaching too closely, they observed me as I stood to take photos and as I walked past. (I was careful not to get too close to them just in case I should spook them.)
On we walked, past more picturesque views of this very scenic tarn.
We went uphill and as we reached its plateau to make our way downwards, lo and behold, what did we see but a farm gate crowded with more Belted Galloway cattle. We were never going to get past this herd! They were pressed against the gate and staring at us unblinkingly, with another cow grazing close by on a grassy mound.
We were now in a quandary. At the back of us, a herd of cattle was wandering free. To the front of us was a herd of cattle determined on ‘guarding’ that gate. What were we to do? We could not just wait them out as it was getting late by then. We also had two dogs with us, and all of us had to get past them without spooking the beasts. Since the gated ‘option’ was really a total non-option, we decided to head back and prayed that the other cows would have dispersed somewhere else by then although this seemed a forlorn hope. (By the way, the first herd of cattle were only 5 minutes’ walk from us at this juncture, so they were not far away.)
We walked quietly back uphill towards the first herd. As we approached, I told Hubby to wait with the dogs whilst I went ahead to do a little recce. There they were! I could see them moving slowly but determinedly across the main footpath – which we would have to traverse – to the opposite side by the tarn.
I told Hubby to wait, and I would watch. My plan was to ensure that all the herd were off the main and secondary footpaths before we resumed our walk.
Bingo! Finally the herd had crossed over to the luscious leaves and grasses on the left hand side of the path. They had followed each other the way sheep do: first one, and then another, and then a few, crossed over, with a couple of stragglers seemingly undecided and only reluctantly following the rest of the herd across.
A determined but unhurried march past from us all and not a peep from the dogs took us safely past these pretty Belted Galloway bovines. I wonder if they are a friendly breed? Our little adventure was thankfully at an end and both Zack and Horatio had behaved impeccably. Well done!
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