Warning after runner sparks stampede

John Vinnicombe with his son Mark on their farmland near Ottery St Mary. Ref sho 4774-30-15SH. Pictu

John Vinnicombe with his son Mark on their farmland near Ottery St Mary. Ref sho 4774-30-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

A farmer is warning people to be aware of potential dangers on public footpaths after he said a runner caused his cattle to stampede.

John Vinnicombe, 77, said ‘someone could have been killed’ when a man ran straight through the middle of his herd – despite being asked to stop - spooking the animals, who took flight.

The Woodford Barton farmer said he had been moving his cattle between fields, with the help of his son, when the lone jogger ‘frightened the life out of them’.

“My son shouted at him to stop, but he didn’t take a bit of notice and just kept running,” said John.

“He ran straight through them.

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“The cattle absolutely stampeded. “They ran a quarter-mile back into the field up to an embankment.

“The chap kept on running, and as he came up to the embankment, he just went straight through the middle of them again. He frightened the life out of them. What we were really worried about was that the fence was not very strong by the footpath and, if the cattle had actually broken through it and someone had been coming down, they could have trampled them and killed them.

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“If anything had happened to that man, we would be liable.”

The beef farmer has approximately 300 cattle, often including cows in calf, so not only is it a concern for his livelihood, but also a potential danger to members of the public. He said it was a huge job herding the animals back to safety again.

John added: “We get quite a few runners through here and as long as they are not stressing our cattle, then I’m happy for them to use the path. If people see cattle then they should back off running and walk.”

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