Meet the Highland cows spending winter at Alton Water

Highland cows at Alton Water in Suffolk

The cows are grazing in a field close to the car park - Credit: Archant

Alton Water is a popular Suffolk location for long walks and water sports - however, visitors to the reservoir this winter have stumbled across a new attraction.

A herd of Highland cows, known to many as 'hairy coos', have taken up residence on the banks of the lake, grazing on a meadow just a short walk from the main car park.

Highland cows at Alton Water in Suffolk

The Highland cows have been living at Alton Water since mid November - Credit: Archant

The six ladies, named Stacy, Sonya, Selma, Jocelyne, Aimee and Candice, have come from their summer home in Tavern Mill, on the River Wensum in Norwich, which gets too wet for grazing during this time of year.

They help park owners Anglian Water to manage the floristic interest and species diversity on the open grasslands at Taverham Mill and have been grazing there for several years.

Highland cattle are a hardy breed with long sweeping horns and shaggy, golden red coats which have a double layer of hair to protect them in the cold winter months.

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They are native to the Scottish Highlands and the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland, but are popular across the world in countries such as Australia, Denmark, America and Finland.

Highland cows at Alton Water in Suffolk

Highland cows are native to the Scottish Highlands and the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland - Credit: Archant

Highland cattle are renowned for being a low maintenance, and hardy breed. They still require daily checks to be carried out but do not require buildings for winter periods and would normally calf outside.

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Within their herds they have a great understanding of their own social hierarchy and never fight. They also enjoy the company of humans, often approaching walkers seeking affection.

Though England has entered a third national lockdown to curb coronavirus infections, exercise is still allowed within your household or support bubble, or with one person from outside your household.

Alton Water offers a spacious walking loop of more than eight miles, however it may be necessary to wait for quieter off peak times to ensure social distancing can be maintained.

The park opens at 9am, closes at 4pm and offers takeaway services from the cafe.

Highland cows at Alton Water in Suffolk

The herd have a wonderful view across Alton Water from their grazing field - Credit: Archant

A spokesman for Anglian Water added: "Our responsibility to ensure that everyone who visits us maintains social distancing and is respectful of the local communities around the parks remains clear, and we ask that everyone plan their visit and be mindful of those who live in the areas surrounding the parks."

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