A farmer has thanked motorists for helping to herd 35 cows to safety after they escaped through a damaged fence on to the M25.
Traffic was held at Godstone, Surrey, on Sunday morning (31 May) after the cattle started to make their way towards Clacket Lane services.
Farmer Patrick Deeley was in the field at the time of the escape and leapt into action, and with the help of his farm team and a neighbouring farmer, they managed to herd the cows back to safety.
The police and Highways Agency also assisted.
Mr Deeley said: “It was a major relief when we got them back and, most importantly, there was no injury to the animals and no accidents.
“There were obviously delays, but thankfully no one was hurt.”
The M25 was shut in both directions as the farmer and helpers initially rounded up 27 cows.
Eight were then found a mile from the farm, near Clacket Lane services, after a member of the public phoned the police.
The farmer said he did not know who had damaged the fence.
“With routine checks, we can only assume it had been damaged by walkers, or vandals.
“We know there has been an increase in this, with more people walking and using footpaths.
“It is very frustrating for us, but it’s also very lucky we were in the field that day and at that point when the cows started to get inquisitive.”
Mr Deeley thanked the police and Highways Agency, and praised quick-thinking motorists who positioned their cars to help block the cattle’s escape route.
Gates left open
Elsewhere in Surrey, the Matthews family, who farm about 1,200ha between Dorking and Guildford, took to Twitter to complain about some members of the public behaving carelessly while visiting the countryside over the weekend.
In a tweet addressed to prime minister Boris Johnson and Defra secretary George Eustice, the farmers said cattle had escaped fields after walkers left gates open and people had been lighting barbecues in “tinder-dry conditions”, which was a danger to wildlife.
“Keep barbecues at home and follow the Countryside Code,” said the family, who farm arable crops and 500 beef cattle in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Surrey Hills.
Gates left wide open=cattle escaping. People lighting BBQ’s in tinder-dry fields = danger to #wildlife @BorisJohnson #GeorgeEustace at next briefing pls advise: keep BBQ’s at home & follow the #countrysidecode @DefraGovUK @NFUtweets @NFUPolitical @Minette_Batters @NFUCountryside pic.twitter.com/VMqCsWlBKt
— Manor Farm Surrey (@ManorFarmWotton) May 31, 2020