By: Blonde One

Recently I took Little Miss Blonde, Numbers and Search on a Dartmoor night walk. It went well; they hadn’t forgotten any skills since last time. They worked well as a team and between them they successfully found everything that I tasked them to (except the boundary that was on the map but not on the ground!). The trip was so uneventful that it wasn’t even going to be worthy of a blog post… except for the cows! We were at a small and quite well hidden hut circle and our next target was another hut circle 350 meters away. We had been aware of the presence of cows throughout the night, they were quietly doing their own thing, not particularly interested in us at all. On this occasion though one particular cow was stood right in our way between our 2 hut circles. He seemed ok and not particularly worried about us but he was stood still, looking right at us from about 8 meters. It has to be remembered at this point that Little Miss Blonde and Numbers are not known for their cow confidence! The cow wasn’t budging and we began to try to work out a strategy for getting to our hut circle. Normally we would have sent one person round the other side of the obstacle, lined them up with the bearing, then all regrouped on the other side. On this occasion we thought the cow might be spooked if we surrounded it from both sides and we didn’t feel that it would be right to separate one person either. We then considered boxing around the cow. This involves turning 90° left and walking 50 meters, then walking the same distance after turning 90° right, then walking the same again after 90° right turn. Eventually you should end up on the same original bearing but 50 meters further on, past the obstacle. This also works well … around a fixed obstacle! There was no guarantee that the cow would not move towards us and spoil our plan. We were stumped! I was just about to give up on the hut circle and find a cairn instead when the cow decided that he had seen enough and wandered off with a knowing nod of the head which told us “I’m in charge, this is my patch, but I will allow you to stay … this time!”

So, how do you navigate round a cow?!