Trails and trials of the writer who walks
Hadrian’s Wall is a lot busier than in its Roman days – I felt like I was part of one big walking group. After dropping off the Wall, I managed to misread an arrow, walking about ½ mile in the wrong direction, and felt quite embarrassed to be assisted by an American couple brandishing a guidebook. Small mishap. They would get bigger as the day progressed.
The forest path was dull but speedy and I was initially elated to be turning into hilly open pastures until, in the distance and beyond the dip of a stream, I could see that a particular black cow was already eyeing me up. The nearer I came to the stream that separated my hill from her hill, the nearer she came to me. She deliberately left the other cows and calves behind and seemed to be entirely focussed on my progress. The PW was going to take me across the stream and over her hill. For a while, she was out of sight as the dip to the stream was steep, so I tried to keep low and sneak past, but she wasn’t fooled. Suddenly she was coming down on me at full gallop. I should have trained as a matador. Poles front and centre, considerable shouting. She turned aside, only millimetres from the sharp end of my sticks (this is one reason I remove rubber caps). I retreated rapidly, back across the stream and up the hill I’d just come from. She made a second charge but stopped at the stream. This seemed to indicate the boundary of her reign (or she didn’t like getting wet feet) and she didn’t follow, but then neither could I follow the PW any more. I turned west, back to the forest to take an alternative footpath. This started well, but was then blocked by fallen trees and disappeared. After a tussle with undergrowth, and with dusk closing in, I eventually got out of the forest and gained a river bank where I camped, hidden under a large tree overhang as I didn’t know if I was trespassing or not. At first light, I packed up and left without breakfast.