Countryside Code

Helping everyone to respect, protect and enjoy our countryside

Some tips from the Countryside code.

Be safe – plan ahead and follow any signs.

Check weather conditions before you leave, and don’t be afraid to turn back.

Tell someone else where you are going and when you expect to be back. In rural areas you may not see many people and phone signals are unreliable in many places.

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.

When in a group, make sure the last person knows whether to leave the gates open or closed.

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 your dog under effective control to make sure it stays away from wildlife, livestock and horses. On most areas of open country and common land, known as ‘Open Access land’, between 1 March and 31 July, you must have your dog on a lead, even if there is no livestock on the land. These are legal requirements.

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.