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Walkers have been urged to make sure they close all gates in fields properly after an incident in which cattle that escaped through an unfastened gate caused at least £10,000 of damage to a garden near Shaftesbury.

Homeowner David Grocott from Sem Hill, Semley, said up to 60 young heifers had escaped from the field and made a ‘complete mess’ of his garden around 300 to 400 yards away.

semley cattle garden
The pampas grass destroyed by the cattle.

‘They pushed through my gate into my drive and they just ran riot around the garden, flattening everything in their path,’ said David, whose landscaped garden is about three quarters of an acre, and who was out at the time of the incident on Tuesday 15 October.

‘When I first got home thought it must have been some storm to have flattened all that, and it was only when I got outside that I saw the hoof prints all over the lawn.

‘They knocked pots over with plants in and smashed all sorts of stuff. They went into the large compost heap and climbed up into that and demolished it and they made a hell of a mess. They demolished fruit trees, lots of plants in flower beds and they have damaged some outside lighting at ground level.’

He added: ‘The gardening man who came to see it reckons there’s at least £10,000 of work and up to £15,000 of work to be able to put it right.’

David Grocott said he attached no blame to the farmer who later came round, apologised and said he would get his insurers involved.

‘The farmer has been marvellous about it. Apparently some walkers going through the local field left the gate open – the farmer said as it has a big sliding bolt there was no way that the cattle could have opened it. Next to the gate there is a walk-through for walkers, a proper style. But they decided to go through the gate rather than go over the style.’

He said: ‘This is about telling walkers that if you’re going through a field, make sure you shut the gate correctly or properly!’

The farmer has now said that he will padlock the gate in future so that people cannot leave it open or unfastened.

cattle semley garden
The cattle caused severe damage to the lawn.
cattle semley garden
Fruit trees in the garden were smashed down.


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