Hill walker feels lucky to be alive after two-hour battle with reindeer

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A TERRIFIED hill walker who endured a two-hour reindeer attack in the Scottish Highlands says she is lucky to be alive.

Pat Cook, 57, from Renfrew, was walking alone in the Cromdale hills east of Grantown-on-Spey when she spotted a light-coloured deer in the distance.

Ms Cook, who has completed all 284 of Scotland’s Munros said she thought nothing more of it as she headed for the summit of Carn a’Ghille Chearr.

But soon after she reached the top, the reindeer reappeared and charged her, throwing her onto her back.

She said: “One of my walking poles was thrown into the air.

“The reindeer kept trying to stick its antlers into me but I managed to brace my feet on them.

“I began bashing it over the head with my other walking pole.

“Its antlers were pretty big and had one sticking straight out in front.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening, and I was aware that I was running out of strength.

“I was shouting for help but there was no-one there.

“I couldn’t keep it at bay any longer and collapsed in a heap with my rucksack protecting my back.

“I tried to get up with my back to the reindeer but it got an antler under the strap of my rucksack and pulled me over backwards.

“It was behind me and its antlers were sticking forward either side of me.

“I grabbed them to try and avoid getting stabbed and it started to bump me along the ground.

“Eventually, I fell and landed in a heap.”

Ms Cook said she was exhausted, but anytime she tried to stand up and make a run for it the crazed reindeer would bundle her back onto the ground.

She said: “If I didn’t move and didn’t shout or blow my whistle, it didn’t touch me, but I knew I couldn’t lie there in the snow all day.”

Two hours after the initial attack, Ms Cook finally made her escape by distracting the reindeer by throwing items of her packed lunch in the opposite direction.

She was left with deep bruises on her arms, legs and head – even though she had five layers of clothing on at the time.

The animal is a two-year-old bull which is part of the 130-strong Cairngorm Reindeer Herd (CRH).

A spokeswoman from CSH said: “To prevent any other confrontations the reindeer was taken down off the hill to our fenced area.

“He won’t go back to the free range until he casts his antlers, which will be before the end of the year.

“We are very careful not to have bulls out on the free range during the rutting season in October.

“This happened will outside the rut so I’m mystified why the reindeer behaved like this.

“The reindeer in question is normally very friendly and quiet and his behaviour was totally out of character.

“Reindeer can be unpredictable.

“It was unfortunate this poor lady happened to be there when he behaved like this.”

Ms Cook said: “People need to be warned that this can happen.

“They’re not Santa’s friendly little reindeer.”

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