Published on 23rd April 2012

Two black dexter cows in a field with blue sky

From Friday evening (27 April), 15 Dexter cattle will roam freely across Charlton Kings Common, meaning both cattle and members of the public will share the same area for the first time.

  • Awareness day on Saturday 28 April, from 8.30am-10.30am and 2pm-4pm

To help people who may be unsure about how to behave around these large animals, volunteers including, Council staff, Friends of Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common members (FOLK), Cotswold Volunteer Wardens, and Cotswold Way National Trail Officers, will be out on the common on Saturday (28 April), giving out information leaflets and answering any questions.

Until now, the cattle had been contained by temporary electric fences. However, this restricted access to parts of the Common to walkers and ramblers for parts of the year, so they are now being removed. Grazing the cattle is also the most sustainable method of restoring the limestone grassland whilst allowing the more sensitive and less competitive flowers and herbs to survive. Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) since 1954 due to the richness of limestone flora. The council has recently entered the Higher Level Stewardship scheme as a way to ensure the area stays protected.  

On the awareness day the volunteers will be available at main access points to the Common, to hand out information leaflets and offer advice to anyone who is uncertain about walking where cattle may be grazing.

The main advice is to make sure that all gates are closed to ensure the cattle stay within the boundary. Don’t panic – most cows will stop before they reach you. If they appear to follow you, just walk on quietly. Dexters are less likely to be bothered by dogs than more sensitive breeds. You don’t need to keep your dogs on a lead and you can allow them to run around, but keep them in sight and under control. Do not allow your dogs to chase cattle. If your dog has disturbed the cattle and they chase after it, let it go, a dog can outrun the cows, you can’t! Try not to disturb cattle, walk around groups of cattle, rather than through the middle.

Wayne Sedgwick, senior community ranger for Cheltenham Borough Council, said: “The cattle are not aggressive and will not be allowed to roam free when they have young calves. However, they may be inquisitive so we just want to make sure the public know how to deal with the animals when they are enjoying the common, especially if they are walking their dog.”

Julius Marstrand, Chairman of FOLK, added: “Removing the need to maintain temporary electric fence paddocks will not only allow users to roam more freely over the Common throughout the year, but will also allow FOLK Working Parties to concentrate more of their efforts on maintaining other parts of the site.”

For more information regarding the cattle you can contact the relevant team at the council on 01242 250019 or for escaped cattle please contact 01242 522767.

For press enquiries contact: Nicola Collins, communications team leader, telephone 01242 775050 or email

 Note to editors
The Council in association with the Friends of Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common (FOLK) and other volunteers will be providing awareness advice on Saturday 28 April relating to the cattle released the previous evening.

FOLK Working Parties, Cheltenham Borough Council Community Park Rangers, local volunteers, school groups and community service teams have been managing scrub for over ten years, but in recent years a high proportion of volunteer time has been spent erecting and dismantling temporary paddocks. The cattle eat the coarser grass and scrub re-growth, which allows more delicate limestone flowers to flourish. They are also able to reach areas not easily accessible by hand or machine, ultimately helping to reduce scrub encroachment.