DOG walkers are being warned to keep pets on a lead when walking through fields after a near miss between charging cattle and a member of the public.

Police in Barnard Castle issued a warning for vigilance and caution following an incident in the area where cows, who were with their calves, charged at a dog walker as they passed through a field.

Sergeant Simon Rogers, from the Barnard Castle Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We have had a recent instance where people out walking with their dogs have been charged at by the cows.

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“We have had similar incidents reported to us in previous years.

“When the calves are born, the cows become very protective, which means that there is an element of danger if people enter a field with them, particularly if they also have dogs with them which tend to make the cows even more nervous.

“We would ask people to be vigilant, and to take precautions when they are enjoying the countryside.

“If you do enter a field with cows and calves during your walk, we would suggest that you keep dogs on leads and close-by.”

In June 2012, a male tourist was seriously injured after being trampled by cows while walking on a public footpath through a field at Romaldkirk, near Barnard Castle.

He spent several days in intensive care, at the James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, being treated for head, back, arm, chest and abdominal injuries. His wife escaped unhurt.

A paramedic who attended the scene described the man, from West Yorkshire, as “lucky to be alive”.

Following the incident, the National Farmers' Union advised walkers to always keep dogs on leads, carry a stick with them to help deter curious creatures, and give grazing animals wide berth, particularly those with calves, even if that meant deviating from the footpath.

In previous similar incidents, two women were seriously injured by a herd of cows near Leyburn, North Yorkshire in 2010.

One woman sustained a broken arm and fractured skull, while the other suffered broken ribs after being trampled in the same field in separate incidents on the same day.