Fringe Box



Letter: I Was Nearly Trampled Underfoot

Published on: 7 May, 2019
Updated on: 7 May, 2019

From Paul Robinson 

Yesterday (May 6), I was very nearly trampled underfoot by approximately 15 head of cattle (I didn’t hang about to count them precisely) at Riverside Park.

I was walking with my two dogs along the path that runs alongside the northern side of the lake when I was confronted by these very frightened young cattle running towards me. They had obviously just been put out to pasture as they weren’t around on the outwards leg of my walk, when I walked towards the lake from Burpham.

I had two options to get out of their way a) run into the lake or b) jump into the hedgerow. Fortunately the hedge was thin enough where I was to take option b.


Riverside Park – Google maps

Sometimes my disabled wife, who uses an electric scooter, accompanies me on these walks. What would have been her chances if she had been with me?


Likewise, what if it had been a somebody with small children in a pushchair or an elderly couple?

The land is owned by GBC and is marketed as a nature reserve. For six months of the year the council allows a local cattle owner to graze his/her cattle there. Yesterday, saw this year’s cattle released into the area.

To the east of the Riverside Lake there is a comparatively small field into which they were released. The large field to the west of the lake is linked to the small field by a relatively narrow path that runs alongside the lake. The cattle were released into the small field and were naturally nervous in their new surroundings.

I consider GBC have a duty of care on their land and in conjunction with the farmer a risk assessment should have been carried out on the best place to release the cattle. I would suggest they should have been released in the large field where they had room to take in their new surroundings.

I have written to GBC to complain.

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test 9 Responses to Letter: I Was Nearly Trampled Underfoot

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    May 7, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    Did Paul Robinson read the warning signs in the car park?

    Has he read the countryside code.

    He obviously knows this is/has been a regular thing for several years, so perhaps he should educate yourself before a countryside walk.

    Many more good suggestions & observations added to the same post you’ve made on Facebook.

    • Paul Robinson Reply

      May 7, 2019 at 8:01 pm

      There are no signs on the gates I went through. But the point is being missed. I have no problem with cattle when they are in a large field and they and we have room to manoeuvre and avoid each other, but I do have a problem when I meet them on a narrow path bordered by hedges & willow leaving very little room to safely lat them pass by.

  2. James Wild Reply

    May 7, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    I am sorry to hear about Paul Robinson’s frightening experience and I am happy he came out shaken but not stirred.

    I often walk through fields with cattle in along the Wey Navigation in Send and am wary, especially when they seem to block your path. It is always a relief when you get through as they can look menacing but, mostly, they are very gentle creatures and a beautiful sight in the countryside. It would be a shame if they were taken out of fields for health and safety. Perhaps we humans should be taken out of their grazing land first!

    As I said I am sorry he had this terrifying experience and think that you have done the right thing in alerting the authorities but I hope they do not overreact. Perhaps they should close the Nature Reserve for a week after cattle are introduced so that they can get used to their new surroundings

    A little bit of internet research has uncovered the following:

    Cattle will instinctively become aggressive towards a chasing dog when protecting calves, often following the dog as it returns back to its owner. “Spring and early summer are when cows feel most vulnerable to interlopers, but they can be spooked into reacting at any time of the year.”

    Five top tips for staying safe around cows:
    1 Keep dogs on a lead. If you’re with a dog you should keep it on its lead, particularly during calving season;
    2 Stay well clear of calves, and resist the temptation to pet them;
    3 But, if you feel threatened – let your dog off the lead – if you feel threatened by a herd when you are with a dog, let go of its lead so you and it can get to safety separately.
    4 Move calmly – Move in a careful, calm way, if you sense a threat, keep moving with your body facing the cow; don’t turn your back to the animal or run.
    5 Inform the landowner or authority of any incidents – tell the landowner and highway authority about any attacks or frightening incidents and contact the Health & Safety Executive and Police if it’s of a serious nature.

    • Paul Robinson Reply

      May 7, 2019 at 8:05 pm

      For the record my dogs were nowhere near the cattle when they bolted. My dogs are Rumanian rescue dogs and as such are very timid if the see cow they will return they way they have just come.

  3. Katherine Hartley Reply

    May 7, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    The exact same thing happened to me whilst I was cycling along there (permitted) about three years ago. I was scared for my life. In summary, I was cycling at a slow pace having completed an evening cycle along the Wey towpath. At this particular gate, there were no signs, and although aware of the country code I proceeded with caution.

    I passed a cow who was happy grazing at the side of the cycle path. I was slightly unnerved but continued on. The cow started following me, so naturally I sped up as it was now gaining some ground. As this happened, a herd of cows, previously hidden from view, bellowed and emerged from nearby bushes.

    Five or so were now coming towards me, with one behind. I was petrified. I abandoned my bike, and the only way was to run towards the lake whilst I feared for my life. I ran as fast as I could away from them.

    After encountering a man walking along the Wey, I managed to get him to accompany me back to my bike. At this point, I was physically shaking and have been reluctant to return to the same point since. I have walked through many a field before and been cautious but fine with cows.

    I do agree that they are an integral part of our flora and fauna, so would not want to see them removed, but this can happen to anyone when you least expect it and when you are faced with that situation (which I hope no one ever is). It is most alarming.

    Without being over dramatic, I actually feared for my life and now have a slight phobia as a result. I sympathise with many aspects having gone through something similar myself and it is so easy to pass judgement when you are not in the person’s shoes. I am not a reckless individual and do care deeply for our nature, so obviously I have written that off as a life experience. I’m determined to revisit the reserve this summer hopefully and with the cows.

  4. Regina Redpath Reply

    May 8, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    One more comment regarding this area. There are no litter or dog bins for miles and people often chuck tied bags full of dog mess into the bushes or hang them from the trees.

    After a two-week break, we litter picked 35 poo bags and a bin bag full of picnic-type waste. It is littering, obviously, the bags do not degrade for years and years.

    Cows can suffer abortion by chewing dog fouled grass. Can we do something to stop “Dog Poo Bandits”? I have asked GBC for litter bins and will do so again but does anyone have any suggestions please?

    • Samantha Williams Reply

      May 9, 2019 at 10:55 pm

      I have a suggestion. You can ask the new Councillors if they could arrange to have a couple of dog poo bins installed at the Riverside meadows SANG with the millions of pounds collected from the SANG tax.

  5. Dave Middleton Reply

    May 8, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Having encountered various breeds of cattle over many years, even decades, of walking in the countryside, most of the time they are just curious. I’ve often had a herd of bullocks come ‘stampeding’ over a field, just to see who or what I am! Just stand your ground and 99 times out of a 100, they come skidding to a halt about 15 feet away and stand there looking sheepishly at you!

    If they’re getting too close, or you feel threatened, spread your arms wide and make yourself as big as you can and shout at them, “Clear off you daft beasts” or words to that effect!

    Any time I come upon grazing cattle that have their backs to me and are busy concentrating on turning grass into milk, I speak to them in a low and friendly voice to let them know I’m there and not startle them, “Hello ladies, don’t mind me, I’m just passing through”.

    Cows will be protective of young calves, so don’t walk between cows and calves, likewise, don’t get between a bull and cows when he’s feeling romantic, as he might see you as competition! If need be, detour through another field.

    Remember, the cattle are busy at their place of work, whether it’s helping to manage flora, or just simply turning grass into milk or beef. You are simply out for recreation!

    • Harry Eve Reply

      May 10, 2019 at 10:50 am

      A couple of additional points from experience of encountering the 1 in 100! If you are downhill from the cattle move to the side without delay as it can be difficult for cattle to stop on a slope.

      In another instance, a rather large beast kept coming closer, slowly, and would not stop when I did the arm waving and raised voice. In the end I pushed down and away on its nose just above and beyond the messy bit and that worked. But beware – that was for a docile breed and if you are unsure stay well away.

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