On the 3rd of July, 2017, I was walking with my husband along the Calderdale Way. We were close to Norwood Green, Halifax, in West Yorkshire. There were no warning signs about cattle on display, and we didn’t have a dog with us.
A group of Limousin cows were lying down in the far corner of the field. We kept as far away as possible to the right hand side of the field. The cows started to stir, but we kept walking calmly.
The next thing I knew, I was waking up on the floor having been knocked unconscious. A cow was standing over me.
My husband put himself in between me and the cow, and waved his arm. The cow butted him in the chest and gored his chin. At that point we just decided to run for it, and we made it to the edge of the field, where we squeezed through a narrow stile.
We were traumatised and shaken, and went to the hospital later. My husband had a bad cut on his chin, and an Xray showed broken ribs. I had (and still now have) a damaged muscle in my lower back. I have had physiotherapy but my physio says there is permanent damage, and I also have a dent in my gluteus muscle.
Reporting the attack
I reported the attack to the police, to the farmer, to the Health and Safety Executive and to the local authority. The police ignored it. The landowner had rented the field to his farmer friend, who was the owner of the cows, and he was disinterested and uncaring.
A traffic liaison officer visited the farm a few days after the attack, and saw the same cows were in the same field. This officer was aware of other incidents involving the cattle, but they had not been removed from the field. This was despite the farmer knowing the cows had recently attacked me.
My main problem, other than damaged back muscle, is I am terrified now to go walking. I have spent years in the Lake District and completed the South West Coastal Path – all 630 miles.
The ignorance and uncaring attitude of the land owner has taken my love of walking away.
A second attack
On the 15th July, less than a fortnight after my attack, I heard that another person was injured in the same field, by the same cows, and had to be taken to hospital by ambulance.
Outcome of Health and Safety investigation
The Health and Safety officer didn’t visit the farm until the 21st July, too late to stop the second attack. They wrote a letter to the farmer and reminded him he had a duty to manage health and safety on his farm, with particular regard to public safety. They told me the farm will be inspected at regular intervals. Strangely, the investigation did not identify any breaches of health and safety law that warranted prosecution, nor even the service of an enforcement notice. This has left me speechless.
I considered suing the farmer, but didn’t want to put myself through anymore stress,
Leaving dangerous cows on a footpath, when you have already been told they are dangerous and someone has already been hurt, and so giving them an opportunity to attack another victim… seems pretty poor health and safety management to us.
We wonder how much more careless of safety the farmer needed to be in order for the Health and Safety Executive to decide to take this more seriously and to prosecute?