Cattle are grazing on Painswick Beacon after 70-year absence
AFTER an absence of 70 years, grazing cattle have returned to picturesque Painswick Beacon and Bulls Cross, near Sheepscombe.
The Blow family – siblings Detmar, Selina and Amaury – are custodians of the 450 acres of grassland on the Painswick estate.
Now they have reintroduced rare-breed cattle, reviving a 700-year-old tradition, which means that a herd of 70 rare Gloucester cattle can now be seen grazing on Painswick Beacon once more.
It is the first time since the 1940s that cattle have been there, although previously the common was grazed for centuries.
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The rise in traffic and the cost of stockmen had ended the practice of free grazing. But now temporary fencing has been introduced to Painswick Beacon, allowing the reintroduction of cattle.
Grazing will also be of benefit to the natural grassland and its wildlife, including rare and declining plants, such as musk orchids, fragrant orchids and purple milk-vetch.
Amaury said: "Managing the grasslands has been a labour of love, and we have had much-appreciated support from the local community.
"This next step of bringing grazing cattle back to the commons will strengthen and support the natural environment."
The presence of cattle on commons helps maintain the unique wildlife habitat of the limestone grassland.
Cattle also keep encroaching scrub in check.
Paul Hackman of Natural England welcomed the move.
"Cotswold grasslands have traditionally been grazed, which helped the wildflowers and butterflies to thrive," he said.
"The reintroduction of grazing is helping to preserve that for the future."
The conservation adviser for Gloucestershire continued: "Without grazing, the commons get covered in scrub and coarse grass."
Unlike Minchinhampton and Selsley commons, the cows on Painswick will not be roaming free, but will be in paddocks with temporary fencing so that they can be moved to different locations across the beacon.