Those of you who have known us for a while will probably be saying “Oh no, not the sunbathing cows again”! To them we apologise, but the sunbathing cows at White Park Bay on Northern Ireland’s stunning North Coast continue to amuse and fascinate people from literally all over the world. We were made aware of this again this week when we posted a photograph of Martha and our cow buddies on the Facebook page ‘Ireland from the Roadside’. Close to 300 people have liked the photo with many comments and shares too, so this is basically the story of our cow encounter with quite a lot of previously unseen photos too!
It was 29th June 2014 and Northern Ireland had been enjoying one of its best summers in recent years so we decided to drive up to the north coast for the day. It’s about 70 miles from our home, so not really a long drive and we were soon arriving at White Park Bay, which is close to the Giants Causeway. We don’t think we had planned where to go initially, as that whole area is so beautiful we are always spoilt for choice but one of us may have said “I wonder if the cows will be out on the beach at White Park Bay”.
When we were driving up it wasn’t particularly sunny, but as soon as we arrived at the small car park for White Park Bay, the clouds seemed to melt away and as we started to walk down the hill to the beach, we caught our first distant glimpse of black dots on the beach, which could only mean one thing: The cows had had the same idea and thought it was a perfect day for the beach, too! We have to say at this point that Martha loves cows. To be honest, Martha loves all animals and is our spider catcher at home. Last year on holiday she spent an hour at a beach at Lake Tahoe in California, rescuing drowning insects from the sea and bringing them up to us on the beach to lay them beside us to ‘dry off’ in the way a cat would leave a mouse or a bird outside your door as a gift! She stopped just short of giving them CPR and chose to lay them out to dry on her sandals, which probably had a similar effect to using smelling salts, so many of them actually recovered and quickly fled the sandal!
Anyhow back to the cows. We aren’t talking here about one or two cows, this was a herd of cows, at least 30 and they were loving life basically! There weren’t many other people around at this time, so we pretty much had them to ourselves. We approached them slowly, in case we might startle them, as we didn’t want to scare them away. These were very chilled out cows however and we soon realised they were totally at ease with us being close. Nigel hadn’t actually brought his own camera that day but luckily had thrown Martha’s camera into our bag or else he would have been devastated! Martha edged closer to the cows until she was kneeling in front of them just a few feet away. The cows were curious, but totally unconcerned and so Martha proceeded to lie down facing them and continued to edge ever closer. Not wanting to miss out on all of this bovine bonding, Nigel too lay down close to them and they were perfect ‘models’ letting us take close to 100 photos in total.
We had to be careful where we lay as cows being cows there were a few ‘cow pizzas’ shall we call them dotted over the sand but with the heat of the sun they were nicely dried out and would actually have made great frisbees. After brief consideration, we decided against checking out the aerodynamic qualities of cow poop!
A few people arrived and we remember a Dutch visitor laughing at the sight of the cows and saying how he had never seen anything like that in his life! We had witnessed the cows on the beach before but this was our first up close and personal meeting with them!
We must have spent at least an hour with them before running out of cow poses and so we walked on along the beach, which as you can see is a really beautiful beach. When we were walking back again, the cows had decided that they needed something to eat obviously so they were heading slowly in a line back to their pasture through the sand dunes.
The beach was a lonelier place without their presence and we look forward to future encounters this spring or summer.
One final thing just to add: Nigel sent some photos of the cows to a community website on the North Coast last summer and there was an incredible reaction to them, which resulted in us being contacted by a local BBC journalist, who wanted to ask us how we had taken the photos and if it had been staged in some way! She seemed to think that we had contacted the cows and arranged the photo shoot with them 😀 Moooooo!