I resumed the Southwest Coast Path on a short weekend in early May, basing myself at Porthallow (detailed on the walk to be posted at a later date).
On my last day, I got caught in high tide and couldn’t walk the cliff path back around to my B&B. With my route blocked, I had to cut through a cow pasture to get around. As I approach the road, the cows all beat me to the gates, crowding around, hindquarters to me.
In all my reading about hiking etiquette and safety, I never ever saw anything about the proper way to walk around cows. The closest knowledge I have is in riding horses- and I know to never approach one from behind. Cows, horses, close enough, right?
I tried stepping closer, seeing if they would scatter. Nope. One started to come
towards me. crap.
Literally. I looked down and my left leg was shin-deep in wet fresh gooey cow poop. Ugh. I backtrack to a narrow walkway that the cow didn’t want to approach. For some reason, she didn’t follow me further.
Reassessing, I decided to try to scrape off my leg first to kill time and make myself feel better. Reaching into the shrubs, I grabbed a large-leafed plant. Instead, I got a nasty stinging surprise, jerking back to see my hand bright red and throbbing. I had not just touched but used my whole palm to grab a
stinging nettle plant.That might be why the cow was smarter to not approach.
I grabbed my water bottle to try to rinse my hand and that didn’t provide any relief. So I tried pouring the rest of the water on my shoes to wash the gunk away. Instead, the wet seeped into my socks.
I don’t remember how I finally got to the gate… just that I was grumpy as can be and also discovered, a mile away later, the sunglasses and gloves I kept at the same pocket as the water bottle had fallen out in the ordeal. I refused to turn back around, marched to the sea, and waded thigh-deep into the bitterly cold water, begging the sea, sand, current, and grit to rub my shoes and pants cleaner.
What an ignominious end to a long weekend. It might be a while before I go back…