Cow 1, Dave 0

I received a phone call on Sunday morning asking whether or not I was available for a Mountain Rescue call-out to recover a cow from a deep ravine.

After pondering for a while (as i we had slept on the living room floor due to the bedroom redecoration, and anticipating Kath’s mum coming to stay in the spare room that was full of stuff from our bedroom, and that we were due to collect money at Tebay services for the search and rescue dogs) I decided to go. That was a big mistake but only found that out later.

The team (Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team) arrived at the farm house and loaded all the equipment into and onto two quad bikes and trailers and headed off for the ravine.

A couple of members had visited this location the night before to see what was needed. The cow was down a series of small waterfalls in a very steep sided ravine.

I decided to take a closer look with the farmer. I estimated that the sides were between 60 and 75° and it would be nearly impossible to persuade the cow to climb the sides, even with a set of ropes and pulleys.

The farmer had a halter on the cow and he tied her to a tree to stop her jumping off down another waterfall that was much bigger than the previous she had gone down.

(You may all wonder what she was doing down there. We can only think that she was spooked by the severe electrical storm on the Thursday night.)

Silly me….I thought I should make friends with her, as we were trying to save her and thought it might do some good. How wrong was I? I extended my arm, she looked at me and her head went down, she charged!

I spun round, slipped or was pushed onto the ground and was submerged in the stream bed and heard the farmer shout in horror (as I found out later from another team member) as she head butted, kicked and trampled me. I lost my glasses in the commotion, and struggled free with the assistance, I think, of the farmer who was mightily shocked at the whole episode. I held my hand up to my hurting head and all I saw was blood. Oh dear, I must have cut myself then. I clambered up and away from the cow and sat, stunned, shocked and bleeding whilst Richard Best came to my assisitance and applied his excellent first aid. My headached was intense. I likened it to a 6 to 8 pint hangover.

I self rescued up the very steep bank with the aid of a harness and some team members giving assistance on a rope. Quad bike waiting and oxygen, I was taken to the farmhouse 500 m or so from the ravine.

5-10 minutes later, the Great North Air Ambulance arrived with a BBC camerman/director onboard. I put on my best smile. Hopefully I won’t be recognised as I had an oxygen mask on, was very unshaven and lost my glasses. It is due to be shown on BBC1 at 8pm in January. Susie the paramedic was great. My hats off to them all. Even though I was conscious throughout and could remember Kath’s mobile number it was probably the best way to hospital. It was certainly the quickest.

I was loaded on to the trolley, muddy boots and all and had a very pleasant journey by air, taking about 15 minutes to Lancaster Royal Infirmary where I was treated and stitched up.

Attacked by a cow

Kath picked me up a few hours after the incident. Sporting some nice deep bruises, coming out in all colours, intercostal muscles on my ribs give me jip, and 5 stitches in the 40 mm cut, I feel like I have been out on the town and got beaten up.

Unfortunately the cow was destroyed as it would have been impossible to persuade a reluctant and now aggressive cow to get out from where she was. She was recovered with the aid of a tractor and lots of team manpower as DEFRA have to check it over and it has to be taken away and disposed of correctly.

I’m back at home and going back to work on Wednesday.

Grapes, sympathy, and chocolate (especially from France Pete & Laetitia) most welcome.

It’s not everyday that one gets steam rollered by a cow.

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