Andy’s story: knocked down on a walk

On the 8th September, this year, I was walking on a public footpath near Ashbourne in Derbyshire. I was on my own with my dog on a lead.

I saw a group of cows were in the field I was about to enter. They were heifers and brown in colour. I normally have no problem dealing with cows, so I entered and began to walk across the field.

After I had crossed the first 100 metres or so, a group of 10-15 cows closed around behind me. I am usually effective at moving cows by shouting, eye contact and large arm movements. However, these cows seemed very inquisitive and continued to close in on myself and my dog.

When they were about 10 metres away I judged that this group of cows was likely to attack and let go of the dog’s lead. She immediately ran away up the field and this distracted the cows.

I next saw her coming back to me through the group of cows. She was scared, but luckily she was uninjured. By this time, I had moved further down the hill, but the running was causing the cows to increase speed as well. At this point I was half way down the field with cows behind me so my best option was to continue.

I removed my dog’s lead to increase her ability to avoid injury, and we moved quickly down hill. The cows circled round the field remaining higher on the hill but parallel to the path. They clearly knew where we were going to go. After I’d covered about another 60 metres, one cow made a charge downhill and came within touching distance. I managed to stop the group by shouting and waving my arms. At this point both my dog and I were pretty scared. We moved further down the path, hoping to find a fence.

Then the rest of group charged at us.

As the cows charged, my dog ran off down the field and away across the small stream at the bottom. This attracted the attention of most of the cows and these chased after her. I managed to avoid some of the charging cows, but not all, and I was knocked over.

Somehow, I managed to get into a gorse bush, and I lifted my legs up and started kicking the attacking cows in the face. At least two cows continued to attack and attempted to “get at” me in the gorse bush for a short time. My kicking them made them back off and I managed to regain my feet as they moved away.

I could see the rest of group in the distance chasing after my dog. I was not significantly injured and was able to set off in pursuit. On the other side of the stream I could see the cows had grouped again and that they were mooing and milling around. I saw an area was fenced off with an electric fence which was energised, so I entered this protected area and walked further up the field.

Luckily, I found my dog, unharmed and happy to see me. I was not seriously injured, but we were both badly scared.

I wish farmers would display something more than indifference to the health and safety of people legally on their land.

Andy suggests:

  • Farmers should make a risk assessment of all animals placed in fields with rights of way passing through.
  • There should be a clear and easy way to report concerns over animals on rights of way.

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