Delabole couple trapped between 'aggressive bulls'
- 9 September 2013
- From the section Cornwall
Two walkers have described their terror at being trapped between two aggressive "snorting bulls" in Cornwall.
Jennifer O'Malley and Dave Alden, from Delabole, were walking near Altarnun when the incident happened.
"I've never encountered anything like it - I was absolutely terrified," Miss O'Malley told BBC News.
The National Farmers' Union (NFU) said while it must have been a traumatic experience, this type of incident was "mercifully very, very, rare".
Ian Johnson, regional spokesman for the NFU, said the smaller of the two South Devons in Mr Alden's video footage appears to be a bullock [castrated male] or a female heifer - which the bull might have been trying to reach.
Miss O'Malley said her boyfriend was head butted by one of the animals which started to charge each time he made an attempt to get past.
"We think the bulls were trying to get to each other, but 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 when the incident happened.
"We were crossing through a field with cows and calves, so 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 round this massive bull was pawing the ground and snorting and then it started charging at us, so we ran to the stile."
The couple were about to enter the field on the other side of the stile when the second "aggressive" beast charged at them - effectively trapping them.
Mr Alden said he was "extremely angry" that a farmer could put aggressive animals on a public right of way, contravening the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Mr Johnson said while most farmers take their responsibilities and obligations very seriously, things very occasionally can 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.
"I've seen and heard bulls bellowing at each other and I wouldn't want to be anywhere near that.
"There is no excuse why any farmer would knowingly have a solitary bull in a field which has a public right of way, but it is possible it could have escaped."
He added that even when bulls were in fields with cows, farmers "should assess the animals' temperament".
Cuts and bruises
Mr Johnson said no matter how awful the incident, it was important to contextualise it in a county which had nearly 3,000 miles (4,500km) of public rights of way and hundreds of thousand of cattle.
"The number of incidents are very rare and thankfully the couple were not seriously hurt," he said.
After nearly an hour, the couple "escaped" by climbing through thick bramble hedges.
"It was nearly impenetrable and we got scratched to bits, but it was the only option we had," Miss O'Malley added.
Mr Alden has reported the incident, which happened on Saturday, to the authorities.
Devon and Cornwall Police said it was not a police matter, but Cornwall Council confirmed it was investigating the matter "as a priority" and would take action "where appropriate."
"We've got cuts and bruises and I'm pretty traumatised... I suppose it could have been worse, but it'll be a long time before I go walking through fields again," Miss O'Malley added.