With more and more people enjoying the outdoors than ever before, the countryside code has been revised by Natural England and Natural Resources Wales to ensure people enjoy our outdoor space in a safe and respectful manner.
This is the first update in over a decade and includes new advice for creating a welcoming environment, crystal clear rules highlighting the importance of picking up dog poo, keeping to footpaths and not feeding livestock.
The Countryside Code gives advice for the public and landowners, making it easier for visitors and inhabitants to help respect, protect and enjoy the british countryside.
The updated countryside code also recognises crucial health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in the natural environment, and makes it clear that this guidance (not rules) applies to all our natural places, including parks and waterways, coast and countryside.
What is the updated countryside code?
- be considerate to those living in, working in and enjoying the countryside
- leave gates and property as you find them
- do not block access to gateways or driveways when parking
- be nice, say hello, share the space
- follow local signs and keep to marked paths (even if they are muddy) unless wider access is available – To protect crops and wildlife
Protect the environment
- take your litter home – leave no trace of your visit
- take care with BBQs and do not light fires
- always keep dogs under control and in sight
- dog poo – bag it and bin it – any public waste bin will do – No bin? Take it with you until you find one
- care for nature – do not cause damage or disturbance
Enjoy the outdoors
- check your route and local conditions
- plan your adventure – know what to expect and what you can do
- enjoy your visit, have fun, make a memory
Natural England Chair Tony Juniper had this to say on the updated countryside code:
“The Countryside Code has been providing an excellent guide for people on how to get out and enjoy the outdoors safely for over 70 years.”
“With more people than ever before seeking solace in nature, this refresh could not come at a more crucial time. We want everyone to be aware of the Code, so people of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy the invaluable health and wellbeing benefits that nature offers, while giving it the respect it deserves.”
Keep these in mind when you next visit the countryside
Pick up your dog poo
Always clean up your dog’s poo. It’s not just unsightly but it can also cause illness in people, livestock and wildlife. Do not leave bags of dog poo around, even if you intend to pick them up later. If you cannot find a public waste bin, you should take it home and use your own bin.
Farming, livestock and wild animals
Leave gates and property as you find them. Farmers close gates to keep animals contained or leave them open to allow access to more land, food and water. Always give wild animals, livestock and horses plenty of space, and do not feed them as it may cause them harm.
Walking through a cattle field can come with risk. Find out how to do it safely here.
Travel and parking in the countryside
Always slow down and drive carefully on rural roads to keep you and others safe. When finding somewhere to park, park sensibly and do not block access to gateways or driveways.
When walking on roads you should face the oncoming traffic and follow The Highway Code.
Follow local signs and keep to marked paths
Stay on marked paths, even if they’re muddy, unless wider access is available, such as on open access land. Doing this helps to protect crops and wildlife.
It’s a good idea to learn the signs and symbols used in the countryside. They will help you identify routes for different types of users through the countryside.