Open day proves hit with guests

Tractor and trailer rides at Chillingham Cattle.
Tractor and trailer rides at Chillingham Cattle.

The Chillingham Wild Cattle Association (CWCA) held its third open day at the end of last month.

Located at the historically restored Deer Hemmel now visitor centre, over 50 guests experienced tractor trailer rides through the park and a new series of illustrated talks.

Chillingham Castle

Chillingham Castle

The event brought £600 in donations for the charity and gave visitors an insight into the cattle, origins of the park, the landscape and the unique pasture plant diversity of the park and how the study of fossil fungal spores could give understandings into what the pre-human landscape of Europe was like.

CWCA Park Warden, Ellie Waddington, said: “Once again, the open day was a true triumph. The lectures and trailer rides were very well attended, and we even had new members joining too.

“This year, visitors also had the chance to witness the landscape and biodiversity work that is currently underway by the Chillingham Wild Cattle Association, to build up a ‘conservation portfolio’, with the ancient wild cattle herd at its focus.”

The newly introduced and illustrated talks, given by Charles Bain-Smith, Dr John Fletcher and Dr Eline van Asperen, gave historical, scientific and interesting detail of what is hidden behind both the iconic herd and the park in which they roam in.

Local arts and crafts people were represented too, with Gillian Stanford painting images of the cattle, Scott Smith, who showcased his sticks dressed in Chillingham cow horns, and Ken and Peter, two medieval wood turners, who made interesting whimsical items on their wooden lathe.

As park manager Duncan Ord drove the tractor and trailer and it was Stephen Hall, Professor of Animal Science at the University of Lincoln and a Trustee of the CWCA, who gave the running commentary.

Stephen said: “Thanks to widespread and effective publicity of the event, the day was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Among the visitors were many local families, as well as people with their own individual connection with animals, plants and the landscape.

“These included dairy and beef cattle farmers, a retired director of a horticultural institute, a former government red squirrel specialist, a first-year veterinary student, and a lady whose grandfather held the job of winter-feeding the wild cattle 100 years ago. Overall, the sun shone, and everyone had a great day.”

Formed in 1939, The Chillingham Wild Cattle Association (CWCA) now has over 350 members and remains passionate about the preservation of this distinct and iconic herd, which is steeped in history and is a real Northumbrian treasure. This charitable organisation survives upon on the public interest and support. All money raised on the day will be used for the welfare of the cattle.