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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 September, 2004, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Tortoise takes three-month trip
Herman the tortoise (Picture, The Journal)
Herman the tortoise after her epic journey (Picture, The Journal)
A runaway tortoise has been recovered after an epic three-mile journey across the Northumberland countryside - a trip which lasted three months.

Herman, a 30-year-old female, escaped from her owner's garden in West Lilburn, near Alnwick in May.

She crossed the River Till, avoided being eaten by wild animals or crushed by cars, and is believed to have survived on grass and dandelions.

A passing postman found the tortoise on Amerside Moor on Friday.

The postman handed her over to the Wildlife In Need rescue centre in Chatton, near Alnwick.

Travel dangers

Lisa Bolton, who runs the centre, said: "I am absolutely delighted to have reunited Herman - it is very much the upside of this job.

"The joy on the faces of Mr and Mrs Swanston was lovely to see."

Mrs Bolton said Herman would have faced many dangers during her travels - including cars, combine harvesters, hungry foxes, badgers, stoats, weasels and even rats.

"Three miles is quite some distance to travel and for a tortoise it is a very long way," she said.

Following media appeals Herman's owners Ken and Gloria Swanston came forward to claim her.

Impressive speed

A wildlife expert said that Herman's speed - an average of more than 50 yards a day - was impressive for a tortoise in its 30s.

Retired fisherman Ken, 62, said: "It is great to have her back. Just wonderful.

"Herman escaped from a hole in the garden fence when we were away on holiday at the end of May.

"We hunted high and low looking for her but we never found her and we even reported her missing to the police."

Herman has lived with four spur thigh tortoises - three females called Big Un, Hole in Shell and Lawnmower, and a male called Rambo - in a greenhouse in the Swanstons' garden for the last 28 years.



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