The only date for your spring 2020 diary: Cows to be released on Rodborough and Minchinhampton Commons this week With spring 2020 diaries standing empty, Stroud district residents are being reassured this week that one centuries-old tradition will still be taking place, and ‘Marking Day’ on Rodborough and Minchinhampton Commons will see cows and other animals released from this Wednesday, 13thMay. Marking Day takes place each year on 13th May and is the date on or after which graziers can release their livestock to roam the ancient grasslands for the summer. The free roaming cattle are essential to keep the grasslands rich in nature. As the cows and other animals are released to graze more than 700 acres of National Trust common land, this year the public are being urged to be extra careful when using the commons, in order to protect the animals and those who care for them, including:• Taking extra care and observe speed limits across the commons• Avoid distressing animals by observing them only from a safe distance• Practising responsible dog ownership, not allowing dogs to bother livestock or wash in animal troughs Ann Finlayson, Chair of the Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons Advisory Committee said: “For all of us who live around Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons, Marking Day and the arrival of the cows and other animals onto the commons is a wonderful moment in the year, and with calendars currently looking rather bare, I know many are looking forward to it even more than ever. “Though we all benefit from the livestock which grazes the common, few people understand quite how hard the graziers and the National Trust work to keep this centuries-old tradition alive, and maintain the delicate balance of these important limestone grassland habitats. “I hope this year – as the graziers continue their work in difficult conditions – drivers and those using the commons will take extra care to respect the animals, keeping speeds low and maintaining a safe distance.” Mark Dawkins, Hayward of Minchinhampton & Roborough Commons said: “Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, cattle and horses with be released onto Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons as usual on Wednesday 13th May. We are expecting some 350 beasts will be turned out on Minchinhampton Common and around 120 on Rodborough Common. Last year motorists were fantastic in keeping their speed down and looking out for cattle, especially after dusk, resulting in few casualties. I would ask all drivers to help again this year.” Marking Day takes its name from the historic practise of bringing cows from their home farms to a pound at the Old Lodge to be “marked” – so they could be identified later – before they were freed. Though marking now takes place elsewhere, the date is still just as important to graziers. Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons comprise more than 700 acres of open space, and are recognised as of national and European importance for their limestone grassland. The National Trust has owned and maintained Minchinhampton Common since 1913 and Rodborough Common since 1937 and has an obligation to protect the landscape, ecology and archaeology of the area.