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Ancient Feet: 35 - Bull In Field

Alan Nolan's mates on the Coast to Coast walk are confrontED by a bull - and the even more dangerous owner of the bull.

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Continue reading "33 - Geographic Howlers"

I reached Orton at the same time as my buddies and, having taken about three hours to walk from Shap, we were ready for a proper break and sat outside the New Village Tea Room enjoying a pot of tea and home-made scones and cakes. Whilst we were enjoying our break, I related my buzzard encounter to them, culminating with the old farmer's comments.

'What is it about ginger hair that provokes hostility?' Tom asked. 'I was browsing through Paul's book last night, and did you know that Wainwright had ginger hair and suffered for it? When he was a boy, he used to wear a cap all the time to cover it up, according to his biography.'

'You never would have thought Wainwright would have been ginger,' Don said.

'No,' I added, 'by the time he agreed to allowing photographs and being interviewed on television, his hair was white. Just a minute,' I exclaimed, 'the farmer said about thirty-five years ago; that would have been just about the time Wainwright was devising the Coast to Coast route.'

'It could have been him,'Tom agreed.

'I told you I had a lot in common with him. Me and Wainwright; the only two people in recorded history to have been buzzed by a buzzard,' I said excitedly.

Having described my experiences on the route to Orton, it was now time for me to hear about theirs. Apparently, the paths shown on the map were not well used and they had found it difficult to find their way but they were alarmed when they came to a padlocked field-gate displaying a sign Bull in Field, even though the map showed that the footpath went through the field. They had no alternative other than to climb over the gate and skirt around the edge of the field, on the opposite side to the bull, and then had to climb another padlocked gate into a farmyard. There was an old farmer in the yard and it was clear he had no time for walkers.

'There's a bull in that field,' observed Tom.

'I knows there's a bull in t' field and it's to keep you fuckin' walkers out.'

'But there's a public footpath through the field.'

'Fuckin' public footpaths. It's my fuckin' field an' I'll decide whether the fuckin' public can walk through it.'

In the absence of his old adversary, Andy, Tom's appetite for confrontation was at its peak and he was ready for this. The argument which ensued degenerated into a battle of how many swear words could be fitted into one sentence.

'Just tell me where the fuckin' footpath is,' Tom said at last.

'The fuckin' road's just down there.'

'If I'd wanted to use the fuckin' road, I'd have come in a fuckin' car,' said Tom, at which the farmer reluctantly pointed to a gate which led to a cart track down the hill and into Orton. Invigorated by his altercation with the farmer, the others found it difficult to keep up with Tom as he made rapid progress to the village. The proprietress of the tea shop overheard some of the story and had to add to the excitement:

'Oh, you had a lucky escape there then. That must have been farmer Snitch and he hates walkers. He was up in court only last week for discharging a shotgun at some ramblers and when the police were called out, he shot at them as well. He was fined and banned from holding firearms. Otherwise, you might have been shot.'

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