Retired Pendle teacher died in horror cattle trampling incident while walking his dogs in the Yorkshire Dales

A retired teacher, parish councillor and lifelong rambler was killed by charging cattle after he and his wife walked through a field in the Yorkshire Dales with their dogs.
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David Tinniswood MBE, 82, from Foulridge, had set off with his wife Carol for a short walk starting from Ribblehead Viaduct after lockdown ended on May 30 last year.

The couple noticed a 'faded' sign warning them of the presence of a bull in a field at Ivescar Farm near Chapel-le-Dale, but did not see any cattle from the gate so continued across a public right of way with their border terriers Bracken and Rusty.

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Mrs Tinniswood, who survived the attack with a fractured rib and lacerations, assured a jury inquest held at Pavilions of Harrogate on Monday that the two dogs had been on fixed-length leads.

The Tinniswoods were walking at Ribblehead Viaduct when they incident took placeThe Tinniswoods were walking at Ribblehead Viaduct when they incident took place
The Tinniswoods were walking at Ribblehead Viaduct when they incident took place

They were members of the Ramblers Association, experienced walkers and Mr Tinniswood had been an outward bound instructor during his teaching career. They had also been known to warn relatives of the dangers posed by cows with calves living near their home in a rural village.

Mrs Tinniswood described how a group of around 20 cattle approached her and her husband as they proceeded down the track through the field, but they decided to continue walking as they had gone too far to turn back. She was pushed to the ground and saw her husband airborne and tossed over her head.

Mr Tinniswood, who taught metalwork at Mansfield High School, was pronounced dead at the scene, having suffered major abdominal trauma, and Rusty, the older of their two dogs, also died. In a statement read to the inquest, Mrs Tinniswood said the presence of a bull 'did not worry' the couple, but had they seen a warning about cows with calves they would not have entered the field as they were aware that females are protective around their young when dogs are present.

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Witness Rachel Thwaites, another walker who came across the incident when the couple had already been surrounded, said she saw Mrs Tinniswood pick up one of the dogs but felt 'something bad was about to happen'. She described how the 'agitated' animals circled the Tinniswoods before pawing at the ground and charging. The bull was not involved.

The cows continued their attack for around 10 minutes before eventually moving away when a driver passing by drove his car towards them.

Miss Thwaites added that an elderly man driving a pick-up stopped at the gate and she approached him believing him to be the farmer. He did not respond when asked if he owned the cattle, but instead asked if dogs were involved and left the scene without offering assistance. The man was never idenitified.

Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority head of park management Alan Hulme gave evidence which included an incident report from 2003, when cattle owned by Ivescar Farm had attacked another dog walker and flung him into the path of a car. The farmers, the Sharp family, had been sent an official letter at the time and were advised to move the herd to an enclosed pasture.

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Farmer Christopher Sharp confirmed that on May 30 there were 32 suckler cows in the field and it was one of just two grazing pastures available to the family. They had been kept in the same field in 2019, with no incidents reported.

He believed the herd was 'docile' as he regularly monitored the cows for signs of aggression, separating new livestock for at least a year. The herd had been together as a group since 2018.

Mr Sharp, 49, said cattle had grazed in the 'bottom field' since his grandfather's day and that his uncle Thomas, who received the warning in 2003, had never told him about the previous incident and his father Alan had not known about it. Thomas Sharp has since retired.

He added that the number of walkers using the bridleway the Tinniswoods had taken, which is also the main drive to his and his neighbour's farms, had increased by around three times since lockdown, with as many as 300 people traversing it each weekend.

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He said he had never felt the need to erect signage warning about the cows and calves, but took other precautions such as only moving the herd at quiet times of day. After lockdown, a further review meant he decided to no longer keep any new cows in the bottom field, despite it offering the best grazing.

Questioned about whether it would be feasible to erect a fence around the bridleway or apply for the public right of way to be diverted, Mr Sharp said it would be impractical to fence the path off due to the fact that there is a beck in the field and three other footpaths that all intersect.

He also gave an account of the impact the incident has had on his business. The partnership with his father and wife now sustains a £20,000 loss per annum due to the fact that the suckler herd has been moved to a poorer grazing area and sheep put in the bottom field instead. He intends to reduce the herd to 30 animals because the land is no longer able to support 45. He confirmed that warning signs had now been provided, and that the herd's new field does not have any paths running through it.

Paying tribute to David Tinniswood, Emily Logan, one of his five grandchildren, said: "My grandfather was kind, generous, wise, warm-hearted and loved life. He grew up in the countryside and was an active member of the community - a parish councilllor and school governor who was passionate about the church and school in his village. He had a large social circle and was in his element talking to people.

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"He had been married for 56 years and it was a marriage filled with love and adventure. He doted on Carol, their two children and the grandchildren.

"We spoke almost daily and he would always wait by the phone for news of my big life events. He was happiest when he was out in the countryside with his wife and dogs, and he was also the leader of a walking group.

"He had just had a hip replacement and he had his smile back. He'd planned his first post-lockdown caravan trip and it was giving him hope for better days ahead. His death was untimely and has left a huge void in our family. He lit up the room."

After the jury returned a narrative conclusion, assistant coroner for North Yorkshire John Broadbridge said: "It is a well established risk that cows with calves are protective of them and that they see dogs as a danger. Cattle are not domesticated animals, they are to some extent wild and unpredictable.

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"There are organisations such as the Health and Safety Executive and the NFU which make recommendations about dogs and the consensus is that where possible, farmers should prevent cows being kept in areas that are crossed by paths but they also recognise that it is not always practical and possible for a business to do so.

"Dogs should always be released in such a situation, not picked up, and they should be kept under effective control on a lead before entering a field with cattle. Cows are a well-known and publicised risk around dogs."

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