CATTLE had to be rescued from sewage sludge after their herd was allowed to escape from their field by ramblers who left a gate open.

Now farmer Richard Green is warning walkers to take more care.

The herd made its way half a mile from Rectory Farm in Idstone, while workers scrambled to retrieve them. Two became stuck in a stockpile of sewage sludge close to the Ridgeway.

The stricken 500kg animals had to be winched to safety.

Mr Green wants to trace the organisers of the walk that passed through his land on the morning of July 10.

He had to follow events from Sweden, where he was travelling at the time.

“The message came through to me, while I was away, from the tenants of a house we let out close to the footpath,” he said. “The path is high up on the downs, so it is in quite an isolated position.

“They told me that the cattle were roaming free across the corn fields because the gate had been left open.”

Helpers and neighbours stepped in to track down the cattle, finding two in distress after they became stuck.

“From where they were meant to be, they had travelled maybe half a mile,” Mr Green said. “The animals went through the crust of this stockpile of sewage sludge and went on for a while until they had to stop. There was no way they were going to get out. They weigh between 400 and 500 kilos each, so while our men were able to walk over the top of the pile to attach a halter, the animals had just sunk. They walked right into the middle of it.

“With young beef animals is if you can put a halter around the head behind the ears you can then pull it without harming it.

“They put a halter around its head and to that attached a wagon strap. They drove into the middle of this heap with a telescopic handler and were able to pull the animal back by winding in the handler.”

Richard wants to contact the organisers of the walk, but has no indication of where they were from.

“They were in a lot of groups of about five or six, and each group were opening and shutting the gate behind them,” he said. “They had some hefty backpacks on and all seemed quite young.

“What should happen in a strung out walk like that is you have one person at the front and one person at the back taking responsibility, or have one person shout back at the others to ensure the gate is shut.

“There were 42 animals in that field, and they were what farmers call stirks — growing beef animals between one and two years old.

“I could not get back to help as I was in Sweden, but I have got helpers who got there as soon as they could, and someone on a neighbouring farm went out as well.

“One of our men took the picture of one of the animals being pulled out and sent it to us — it was quite dramatic. All the animals are safe back on the farm now.”

  • Anyone who was a member of the group or organised the walk can contact Richard on 07788727811.