JUST a short drive from Cirencester lies Minchinhampton - a town where cows rule at this time of year.

Hundreds of magnificent beasts can be seen roaming freely on the National Trust common land surrounding the small town.

Over the years, residents have learned to live with their bovine friends - who occasionally pop into the town centre for a wander.

In fact, many help keep garden hedges and verges neat and tidy with a nibble here and there.

Minchinhampton is just a 20 minute drive from Cirencester (10 miles), and is perfect for a day out with the children.

A variety of different breeds of cattle can be seen including Aberdeen Angus, Herefords, Belted Galloways and the magnificent Scottish Highlands with huge horns - a firm favourite with photographers.

It is also great for kite flying, golf and there are numerous walks.

Cattle are released on Marking Day - May 13, when graziers let their herds roam free on the ancient grassland for the summer.

The day takes its name from when cows were brought to a pound at the Old Lodge to be 'marked' with ear tags, or more historically with a branding iron, before they were freed.

Grazing is essential to the management of the area - without it scrubby woodland would encroach and rare wildlife habitats would be destroyed.

Beautiful pictures are often captured showing mothers bonding with sweet calves and views from the common are stunning.

A famous landmark is Tom Long’s Post, which is named after a highwayman and is where six roads meet.

Unfortunately, a few cows get hit by cars each year and motorists are warned to take extra care and drive slowly as cattle often wander into the road.

Luckily, this year there have been no fatalities.

A delighted place for a spot of lunch or a decent pint is the Old Lodge, located on the common.

This 400-year-old hunting lodge provides a beautiful setting with one of the best beer gardens around. The views are stunning.

Otherwise, head into the town to the historic Crown, which was closed for several years before being revamped by co-founder of fashion label Superdry Julian Dunkerton and his Lucky Onion group.

Both the Old Lodge and the Crown are taking part in Eat Out To Help Out.

For a sweet treat head to the famous Winstone's Ice Cream kiosk on nearby Rodborough Common, which has been producing ice cream since 1925.

Many of these images were taken by members of the Gloucestershire Camera Club, which you can join on Facebook.