On the 30th July 2020, we were walking on a footpath through National Trust property at Pentire Point, near Polzeath, in Cornwall (Map reference SW 9321 8029). I was with my husband and two grandchildren.
We entered a field, where a National Trust warning sign said: “Don’t approach or stroke the cattle. Keep dogs on the lead unless cattle become aggressive, then let them off the lead to make their own way.” We didn’t have a dog with us.
There appeared to be two tracks across the field, one which skirted the edge and one across the field. As there were a large group of cows standing on the first path, we went across the middle path. It looked to be a mixed herd. I’m not sure of the breed, but it was possibly Jersey.
There was a mother cow with two calves standing halfway across and she watched us carefully. We gave her a wide berth.
Suddenly the children saw a rogue cow running towards us from right across the field.
Said cow came running all the way up to us, veered around my husband, and threw me up into the air. The cow then rolled me around the ground like a rag doll.
My husband tried many things to stop it, but he was unable to do anything.
Eventually, I managed to stand up. But the cow ran round me, and head butted me full on in the chest. Once more, I was rolled around the ground. The cow trampled over me, and eventually ran off.
I was treated in A&E, where I was suspected of having a head injury, because I had a severe headache. I had a full examination, including a CT scan to my head and X-rays of my left shoulder. Luckily, I did not have any fractures, and was given pain relief and allowed home.
Unfortunately, I was left with severe bruising to many parts of the body: left shoulder, underarm, ribs, right arm, right leg, and lower spine.
I am slowly recovering from my horrendous encounter with the rogue cow, but I am still very sore, especially my ribs and coccyx. Not to mention the psychological effects to myself, husband and two grandchildren who were very traumatised.
We reported the incident to the National Trust. They say that their policy is an agreement with the farmer that cows with calves should not be in the field with the public footpath. They are looking into this. I have also reported the incident to the Health and Safety Executive, and have received a reply requesting further information.
It was unnecessary for us to be directed across a field of cows when the adjacent field was empty. Cows (especially with calves) should not be in a field with an open public footpath. The farmer should either build extra fences or direct people towards a different route.
Photo credits: Header photo by Ruth Livingstone. Photos of injuries supplied by Sonja.