Countryside Code

Helping everyone to respect, protect and enjoy our countryside

Some tips from the Countryside codecountryside-code-cover

  • Be safe – plan ahead and follow any signs.
  • Check weather conditions before you leave, and don’t be afraid to turn back.
  • Part of the appeal of the countryside is that you can get away from it all. There are some places without clear mobile phone signals, so let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Leave gates and property as you find them.
    A farmer will normally leave a gate closed to keep livestock in, but may sometimes leave it open so they can reach food and water. Leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs.
  • If walking in a group, make sure the last person knows how to leave the gates.
  • In fields where crops are growing, follow the paths wherever possible. Use gates, stiles or gaps in field boundaries when provided – climbing over walls, hedges and fences can damage them and increase the risk of farm animals escaping.
  • Leave machinery and livestock alone – don’t interfere with animals even if you think they’re in distress. Try to alert the farmer instead.
  • Wild animals and farm animals can behave unpredictably if you get too close, especially if they’re with their young – so give them plenty of space.
  • Keep dogs under close control.
    By law, you must control your dog so that it does not disturb or scare farm animals or wildlife. On most areas of open country and common land, known as ‘access land’ you must keep your dog on a short lead on most areas of open country and common land between 1 March and 31 July, and all year round near farm animals.
  • You do not have to put your dog on a lead on public paths, as long as it is under close control. But as a general rule, keep your dog on a lead if you cannot rely on its obedience.
  • If a farm animal chases you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead – don’t risk getting hurt by trying to protect it.
  • Take particular care that your dog doesn’t scare sheep and lambs or wander where it might disturb birds that nest on the ground and other wildlife – eggs and young will soon die without protection from their parents.
  • Please support the rural economy – for example, buy your supplies from local shops.