Terror of walkers trapped by 'bulls'
A COUPLE have described their terror at being trapped between what they described as two aggressive "snorting bulls" in North Cornwall while out for a country walk.
Software engineer Dave Alden and Jennifer O'Malley, from Delabole, were walking near Altarnun on Saturday when the incident happened.
"I've never encountered anything like it – I was absolutely terrified," said Miss O'Malley, 26.
Mr Alden, 35, founder of the website www.iwalknorthcornwall.co.uk said he had been on many footpaths but never encountered a situation like that.
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"We were crossing a field near Beechers Barn to a stile at the far side of the field. The field had lots of cows with calves so, as usual, we kept close to the hedge and away from the cows. About halfway across we saw a large bull walking directly towards us and acting aggressively – pawing at the ground, snorting and shaking its head.
"We continued to walk along the hedge until the bull broke into a charge, head down, making straight for us.
"We ran the rest of the way to the stile and jumped up."
The couple were about to enter the field on the other side of the stile when the second beast charged at them – effectively trapping them.
Miss O'Malley said Mr Alden was head-butted by one of the animals, which started to charge each time he made an attempt to get past.
"They were snorting, bellowing and pawing the ground and we were stuck in the middle with nowhere to go," she said.
"It really was quite awful ... and so terrifying it's put me off walking."
The walkers claim they were on a public footpath at the time.
"We were sticking close to the hedge when I heard a noise – which sounded like someone snoring really loudly," Miss O'Malley said.
"When we turned around this massive bull was pawing the ground and snorting and then it started charging at us, so we ran to the stile."
Mr Alden said he was angry that a farmer could put aggressive animals on a public right of way, contravening the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Ian Johnson, regional spokesman for the NFU, said the smaller of the two South Devons in Mr Alden's video footage appeared to be a bullock [castrated male] or a female heifer – which the bull might have been trying to reach.
Mr Johnson said while most farmers take their responsibilities and obligations very seriously, things can very occasionally go wrong.
"We don't know the exact circumstances about how the animals ended up in the fields, but what happened sounds traumatic," he said.
Mr Johnson said that in a county with nearly 3,000 miles of public rights of way and 350,000 cattle, the number of incidents like this were very rare and there were far more cases of livestock being worried.
After nearly an hour, the couple escaped by climbing through thick bramble hedges.
Mr Alden has reported the incident to the authorities.
Devon and Cornwall Police said it was not a police matter, but Cornwall Council confirmed it was investigating and would take action where appropriate.