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Bull in a Field

Bull in a Field


Postby JonetCol » Mon Nov 23, 2020 8:42 pm

Come across a bull on your walks very often?. I'd only one encounter until recently. It was about 10 years ago and the bull was coming in to the underpass below the railway, at the start of the walk up to An Caisteal (as I entered from the other end). I beat a hasty retreat and climbed the embankment to cross the railway line from above and carry on.

Nothing for 10 years and then 2 weeks ago, walking from Belford to St Cuthbert's Cave in Northumberland, I came across TWO on the same walk. One was in a field crossed by St Oswald's way, the other in a field St Cuthbert's way goes through. They were both with cows, which - in theory - keeps them calm (no guarantees). Luckily I was able to give them a wide berth, but it was an anxious few moments. The gates to the fields in question bore a sign saying 'Bull in field'.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby tweedledog » Tue Nov 24, 2020 11:32 am

At least there was a warning sign. I recall walking with partner and dog (on lead) in Wensleydale about a dozen years ago and entering an apparently empty field following an official right of way. Got well into the field when over the brow of the hill came a) a bull, b) some bullocks, c) even more cows, and d) some half-grown calves. The cows headed for us in full aggressive mode (a dog, after all) and we fled to the bottom of the field where it bordered the river, struggled over a barbed-wire topped fence, and worked our way along the steep bank with the rather full river below. The cows followed us the entire way until we were able to get out into the next field. The bull, I might add, ignored us completely and continued grazing peacefully. All this was in an area where not long before a women, a vet no less, had been killed by cows while walking her dog. You might think that, given this recent history, the farmer would have put up a sign, especially on such a well-used path. But no.
More generally I walk (with dog) close to cattle a lot of the time now that I live in Argyll. With the Highland Cattle I have no problem except when the calves are very young, at which time I stay pretty clear. They have a reputation as a docile breed and my experience is that they usually are. The bulls included, one of whom was very much in favour of having his head scratched whenever he saw us. There are shorthorns in the area as well, and they are much more aggressive when they care to be. I avoid them at all costs. But cattle are large creatures and they can certainly outrun you if they wish to. Be wary, and doubly so when there are young calves.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby Pointless Parasite » Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:33 pm

I managed to surprise a bull in a field near Moffat last year. He tried to run away but his two front feet got stuck in the mud, causing him to fall, face-first, into a raised bit of ground in front.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby cantabrigian » Wed Nov 25, 2020 2:39 pm

A couple of years ago I came across this fine fellow by the roadside on the return part of the Bracklynn Falls walk. Fortunately he had his family with him and was in a very placid mood.

IMG_2429.JPG
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby 1Magnus » Wed Nov 25, 2020 4:58 pm

Meall Ghaordaidh, summer 2013: the first field after leaving the car park, farmer heads in my direction in a landrover, window rolled down, clearly worried about me crossing the field, because a cow had given birth the previous night. So I offer to go somewhere else to do a different mountain. But farmer says to get in the landrover, and he givese me a lift across the field! We saw the little calf curled up in the grass, mum eating the afterbirth, and the other cows forming a protective ring. Farmer took me to the stile at the far end of the field in the landrover, to make sure I was safe.

I did my walk as planned and on the way back, I managed to stay outside the field, by edging along the fence, by the river.

A magic experience the whole thing. A big Thumbs Up and Thank You to the kind and brilliant farmer!! :clap:

I'll never forget that calf, and that very memorable mountain.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby Holly » Wed Nov 25, 2020 5:17 pm

I have had a few ‘wobbly’ experiences when coming across cattle on my travels. I too, have dogs and one now who couldn’t outrun cattle as he is an elderly boy, is deaf, partially blind and wouldn’t know what was coming. I remember before COVID, I had gone into Glen Nevis where many people walk to the Steall Falls. I was going on to do the Aonachs and had serious wobbly when I encountered a particularly large herd of cattle spread out all over the area. I decided to kind of ‘stalk’ a family of 4 gaily walking in front of me right through them while I maintained a close subtle distance behind them with my two dogs on leads. I am not sure what they could have done but it made me feel a tad safer. This was not to be for long however as a large (arent they all) cow that was down on the embankment, decided to well, have a run at me making all the cow noises. I responded with what I can only describe is a very instinctual and guttural roar which scared the said creature and it backed off. My legs were like jelly and nearly had me cancelling my entire day and returning back the way I came. Being that I had already nearly passed the said herd, I decided it was better to keep going. Stress reduced, the day was enjoyed, couple of munros bagged, with an odd but consistent nagging feeling I was going to have to return the way I came. Managed this until on my way back, I could see in the distance that the herd was making the best of social distancing (before it was such a thing) and using the entire area to graze. This would make it impossible to avoid them. But avoid them I did by going up on to the side of the steep embankment to my right and making my way past doing some difficult heather bashing boulder hopping moves while the coos occasionally looked up, probably thinking who is that complete wally up there. Made it to safety and got back in one piece. I have to say that it was a quite frightening experience being ran at tho and although I have tried to make light of it by telling myself its a reason to keep eating t bone steaks,,, It was not pleasant one little bit.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby Alex W » Fri Dec 18, 2020 10:56 am

I was walking the Pennine Way and just beyond Malham Cove I entered a field - still on route - where half way across I saw the most enormous bull I've ever seen. Fortunately he was busy doing what bulls are supposed to do and had no interest whatsoever in me.

He was probably a most charming fella, but I did think that keeping a bull in a field crossed by a National Trail wasn't the right thing to be happening.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby simon-b » Fri Dec 18, 2020 6:46 pm

Alex W wrote:I was walking the Pennine Way and just beyond Malham Cove I entered a field - still on route - where half way across I saw the most enormous bull I've ever seen. Fortunately he was busy doing what bulls are supposed to do and had no interest whatsoever in me.

He was probably a most charming fella, but I did think that keeping a bull in a field crossed by a National Trail wasn't the right thing to be happening.

Much of the access land in England and Wales is pasture land owned by farmers. The farms were there before the national trials or the access laws were, and farmers have the right to graze animals wherever is suitable and economic. The public has the right of responsible access to such land, at their own risk.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby Alex W » Fri Dec 18, 2020 7:30 pm

simon-b wrote:
Alex W wrote:I was walking the Pennine Way and just beyond Malham Cove I entered a field - still on route - where half way across I saw the most enormous bull I've ever seen. Fortunately he was busy doing what bulls are supposed to do and had no interest whatsoever in me.

He was probably a most charming fella, but I did think that keeping a bull in a field crossed by a National Trail wasn't the right thing to be happening.

Much of the access land in England and Wales is pasture land owned by farmers. The farms were there before the national trials or the access laws were, and farmers have the right to graze animals wherever is suitable and economic. The public has the right of responsible access to such land, at their own risk.


I might take issue with that. National Trails are a recent innovation, but they utilise ancient rights of way which in many cases predate development of land for managed agriculture. Now, I've no idea of the status of that path near Malham Cove, but when the farmer has agreed to the routing of a National Trail across his land and may even have been compensated for it, he needs to accept a duty of care to the many people who are consequently encouraged onto that path and may as a result suffer fear and trepidation.

The fear and trepidation may not be justified, as I say the bull in question may have been a most charming fella, but farmers must be cogniscent of the effect on members of the public, and in return of course we must be diligent about our behaviour while on the land.

It's only by exercising mutual respect that we manage to retain access (in England anyway) and keep relations constructive in the countryside.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby CharlesT » Fri Dec 18, 2020 7:47 pm

The law is as explained below (from the Ramblers website)

Farmers are allowed to keep cattle in fields with public access, but legislation bans the keeping of bulls in fields crossed by rights of way, unless they are less than 10 months old, or not of a recognised dairy breed. Beef bulls in such fields must be accompanied by cows or heifers. Health and safety laws require farmers to ensure that people not in their employment aren’t exposed to unnecessary risks by undertaking risk assessments.

Whilst the law on bulls is specific, incidents in which members of the public are chased, injured or killed by cattle, while rare, are far more likely to involve cows with calves. There are however measures that farmers can take to reduce the risks to public.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby simon-b » Fri Dec 18, 2020 8:27 pm

CharlesT wrote:The law is as explained below (from the Ramblers website)

Farmers are allowed to keep cattle in fields with public access, but legislation bans the keeping of bulls in fields crossed by rights of way, unless they are less than 10 months old, or not of a recognised dairy breed. Beef bulls in such fields must be accompanied by cows or heifers. Health and safety laws require farmers to ensure that people not in their employment aren’t exposed to unnecessary risks by undertaking risk assessments.

Whilst the law on bulls is specific, incidents in which members of the public are chased, injured or killed by cattle, while rare, are far more likely to involve cows with calves. There are however measures that farmers can take to reduce the risks to public.

Hope that helps.

That's interesting, Charles. I used to wonder why the OS English and Welsh maps showed rights of way over land where access was allowed anyway, and not just tracks as on the Scottish maps where the right to roam applies (whereas it was obvious why rights of way across otherwise private English and Welsh land would be indicated). Perhaps your point about laws regarding bulls is one of the reasons.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby ChrisButch » Sat Dec 19, 2020 9:46 am

simon-b wrote: I used to wonder why the OS English and Welsh maps showed rights of way over land where access was allowed anyway, and not just tracks as on the Scottish maps where the right to roam applies (whereas it was obvious why rights of way across otherwise private English and Welsh land would be indicated).

A number of reasons, but perhaps the most practically useful is that under the English/Welsh CROW act rights on access land are qualified in ways that differ from those on rights of way. Specifically (unlike Scotland), there is no right to cycle on access land: but there is such a right on a Public Bridleway which crosses access land. There is also far greater legal protection, both in statute and common law, for a right of way than there is for a specific area of access land.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby CharlesT » Sat Dec 19, 2020 10:19 am

https://homesteadontherange.com/2018/09/19/why-are-dairy-bulls-more-dangerous-than-beef-bulls/

From an American publication. It explains the difference between Dairy and Beef bulls. I found it interesting and now I need a surefire way of telling one from another.

Most of the bulls we come across are likely to be Beef bulls and with their ladies, so shouldn't cause problems.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby simon-b » Sat Dec 19, 2020 12:58 pm

Alex W wrote:
simon-b wrote:
Alex W wrote:I was walking the Pennine Way and just beyond Malham Cove I entered a field - still on route - where half way across I saw the most enormous bull I've ever seen. Fortunately he was busy doing what bulls are supposed to do and had no interest whatsoever in me.

He was probably a most charming fella, but I did think that keeping a bull in a field crossed by a National Trail wasn't the right thing to be happening.

Much of the access land in England and Wales is pasture land owned by farmers. The farms were there before the national trials or the access laws were, and farmers have the right to graze animals wherever is suitable and economic. The public has the right of responsible access to such land, at their own risk.


I might take issue with that. National Trails are a recent innovation, but they utilise ancient rights of way which in many cases predate development of land for managed agriculture. Now, I've no idea of the status of that path near Malham Cove, but when the farmer has agreed to the routing of a National Trail across his land and may even have been compensated for it, he needs to accept a duty of care to the many people who are consequently encouraged onto that path and may as a result suffer fear and trepidation.

The fear and trepidation may not be justified, as I say the bull in question may have been a most charming fella, but farmers must be cogniscent of the effect on members of the public, and in return of course we must be diligent about our behaviour while on the land.

It's only by exercising mutual respect that we manage to retain access (in England anyway) and keep relations constructive in the countryside.

Ok Alex, after reading this and Charles' reply I realise you do have a point. There have been similar discussions on the forum before, and sometimes farmers have contributed themselves, saying it isn't always practical to avoid putting their animals in fields crossed by walkers. If, in some cases, the law says they shouldn't then those rules ought to be followed. But I was just feeling sympathetic to livestock farmers who often have a tough time these days and face an uncertain future.
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Re: Bull in a Field

Postby Tringa » Sat Dec 19, 2020 3:49 pm

Like one of the contributors above I too was on the Pennine Way(about 50 years ago) in west Durham and came across a placid looking herd of Aberdeen Angus cows very close the the path. As I approached them they did nothing other than

(a) give me the odd fairly disinterested looking glance, and

(b) spread out a bit to reveal a bull. Even if the ring in its nose wasn't a giveaway its size was - it looked about half as big again as the cows.

Have say I was really scared but it had a look at me and, thankfully, went back to eating.

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