The beautiful village of Tattenhall in Cheshire
Woofteam: June 2016
If you are one of the many Tattenhall residents who regularly walk on Bickerton Hill, you may have recently noticed some new editions to the wonderful landscape. In fact you might, like my other half, have been chased by one of said new editions. (One thing I've learnt from that experience is not to run — I didn't get chased!!!)
To find out more about these magnificent creatures we've been in touch with Christopher Widger, the National Trust Countryside Manager at Cheshire and Wirral. Here's what we found out.
Bickerton Hill has status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which means it is one of England's best sites for wildlife. It has this status because of its importance as an area of lowland heath. Lowland heathland is rare and highly endangered. SSSIs are protected, which means the National Trust has a legal obligation to care for it in a way that allows the habitat to flourish.
At Bickerton Hill, as on other lowland heath sites, that means stopping the spread of birch trees across the site. The traditional and most practical way of doing this is by grazing livestock, which has been the practice on the hill for many centuries and is essential for the conservation of the heath.
The livestock that have recently been introduced to Bickerton Hill are from a contract grazier. These animals are a traditional, hardy breed such as Galloway or Welsh Black which are highly suited to grazing in challenging terrain where forage is rough. They are usually placid and calm and very occasionally they can be curious. There are no cows with calves. Cattle don't usually pose a threat though the National Trust appreciate that some visitors and particularly those with dogs may be nervous around cattle.
The Countryside Manager suggests the following guidelines to help walkers, in particular dog walkers, understand how to behave when there are cows on the hill:
- We ask visitors to stick to the path (not because of cattle, but to protect the sensitive and endangered flora and fauna of the heath)
- Avoid walking through the middle of the herd. Find an alternative route around the cattle or wait for them to move off your route
- Do not allow your dog to scare or disturb livestock or wildlife
- Your dog doesn't have to be on a lead as long as it is under strict control, which means at heel and obedient
- Your dog should be within sight at all times
- If you think cattle are chasing you, it is safer to let your dog off its lead — don't risk getting hurt by trying to protect it
Woofteam hope that these guidelines will help you when you are enjoying these summer days up on the hill. How lucky are we to live so close to such a beautiful spot. All 90 hectares of it!
For more information on the great work the National Trust are doing on Bickerton Hill, click here.
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