Cattle checkers enjoy a beef dinner at Axmouth

Chef serves up a special meal as a thank you to the volunteers who look out for the wetlands’ Red Devon cows

Two groups of volunteer cattle checkers were treated to a special supper at Axmouth on Saturday – with some of their beef on the menu.

The evening was held as a thank-you to the volunteers who look out for the Red Devon cattle that graze important wildlife sites on the Axe Estuary and along the coast, near Weston.

The cattle graze Colyford Common, an area of salt marsh that floods during high tides, and forms part of the wetlands nature reserve.

Farmer and wildlife enthusiast Ian Crowe said: “To ensure their welfare the animals need to be checked every day, which given the difficulty of the site with all its ditches and pools I simply couldn’t manage without the help of the volunteers.

Fraser Rush who manages the nature reserve added: “The nature reserves depend on the cattle to manage the vegetation with their grazing and trampling, creating the right conditions for the wealth of wildlife we have at Colyford Common.”

At the dinner, the Colyford Common cattle checkers were joined by a new group who have been helping check cattle on the cliff tops belonging to the National Trust at Dunscombe, near Weston.

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Harriet Pottinger a checker who works at the Donkey Sanctuary next door and walks the site in her lunch hour said: “These areas are important for their wild flowers and insects. I enjoy helping to keep such a beautiful place special, the cattle look lovely in the landscape and, of course, the beef is delicious.

The meal, at the Harbour Inn, was prepared by chef Gary Brook, who cooked Red Devon beef especially for the occasion.

He said: “I am impressed with the quality and flavour of the beef, and as it is grown directly across the river from the Harbour Inn it couldn’t be more local, which is what we are all about.

“We look forward to including the nature reserves’ beef on our menu and would invite people to come and taste it for themselves perhaps after working up an appetite on a visit to the Axe Estuary nature reserves.”