• Victoria Bowers

The Highlands of Minchinhampton

I read an article about a centuries old tradition on the Rodborough and Minchinhampton Commons where graziers release their cattle to roam the ancient grasslands for the summer. Over 400 cows are released in May and taken back to farms later in the year, during the month of November. Among the multiple herds allowed to roam are the stunning Highlands.

The Highland is a Scottish breed of rustic cattle that originated in the Scottish Highlands and the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland. It's a hardy breed with a distinctive shaggy coat. A male Highland can weigh up to 800 kilograms. Minchinhampton Common is one of the largest grassland commons in the Cotswold area. The site is owned and managed by the National Trust.

Grazing is essential to the management of the commons, without it scrubby woodland could begin to encroach, and rare wildlife habitats would be destroyed. Over 450 cows are left to graze the land until November.

In previous years, it has been known for the cows to escape the commons. One report involved shoppers herding a loose cow through the middle of Minchinhampton town after it had escaped and made a run for it. The shaggy Highland took a tour of the town before being herded back to safety.

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