We rescued a pair of donkeys wandering loose on the side of a winding mountain road. Find out more about their story here.

Twelve-year-old Daisy and Thistle, 11, were spotted with overgrown hooves and patchy coats by motorists passing through the Lake District National Park in May 2020.

The two donkeys were walking along the side of the Langdale Mountain range, with access to the whole of Wrynose Fell.

Had we not intervened, Daisy and Thistle could have become stranded by wandering too far into the mountain, which has dangerous high peaks and steep slopes.

Following a call from a member of the public, Donkey Welfare Adviser Adele Crompton travelled to the mountainside with an RSPCA inspector, vet and two officers from Cumbria Police.

Adele says: “At first sight, I could see the two donkeys. Daisy was lying down on the mountainside in the moors, and Thistle was grazing close to the road.

“On closer inspection, they had misshapen, overgrown hooves which were twisted, indicating they had not been attended to by a farrier for quite some time.

“The presence of lice was indicated by missing patches of hair, which may have been rubbed away by the donkeys due to itching, leaving their delicate skin exposed to the sunshine.

“It was an unbearably hot day when we rescued them, and Daisy and Thistle had no access to any shelter. There were no trees, just a vast mountain expanse with no natural shade.”

An ill-suited environment

Soon after Adele arrived, Daisy and Thistle began wandering down the mountain road, increasing the risk of being hit by passing traffic.

That, combined with the lack of shelter and the state of their hooves, meant that Daisy and Thistle were in urgent need of help.

Both donkeys appeared to be comfortable being approached by Adele, who could fit them with head collars and lead them into a nearby layby.

The RSPCA and police contacted Daisy and Thistle’s owner, who agreed to relinquish the donkeys into our care.

While waiting for transport to arrive to take Daisy and Thistle to a local holding base, the vet carried out several health checks to ensure they were fit to travel.

Adele says: “Once we safely caught them, I could see that their feet were very badly twisted, which would have caused them considerable discomfort. They were struggling to walk.

“It was a good thing we were able to step in when we did. The road they were walking on had several blind bends, and there is a chance that one day they could have been involved in a traffic collision.

“Because their feet were in such poor condition, they would have been unable to move quickly out of the way of an oncoming vehicle.

“It would have been a tragedy for not just the donkeys, but for any motorist who saw them too late.”

Both donkeys did have access to water as the fell has many streams, but they had to roam further to reach them, which would have been difficult for them due to the poor condition of their feet.

Safe from harm

Once Daisy and Thistle arrived at the holding base, they received plenty of expert veterinary care, including dental work and farrier attention.

They have settled into their new environment quickly and have made good progress in their recovery. Donkey Welfare Adviser Sally Bamforth says: “Daisy and Thistle have continued to do well. The condition of their coats and hooves have considerably improved.

“For now, they are awaiting further assessment to see whether the damage sustained to their hooves is long term or has improved to an extent where they may be eligible for rehoming.

“They have enjoyed being handled and receiving daily attention, and they are looking towards a much rosier future.”

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