Countryside Code - Respect, Protect, Enjoy

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There is an official "Countryside Code" Unfortunately, it is written with a "Health and Safety" mentality i.e. with a belief that you have to cover all eventualities on the basis that people are totally stupid.

It is rather patronising and what are you supposed to do with it? Memorise it? Carry a card with you at all times and refer to it regularly? Ridiculous of course. It can all be summed up as:

"Respect the countryside and leave it as you find it."

If you follow that simple principle literally, you will automatically fall in line with the Code.

Another good maxim is:

"Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but boot-prints."

For the lovers of detail, the following are the main principles of the Countryside Code:

Enjoy the countryside and respect its life and work.

Guard against all risks of fire — this includes not discarding lit cigarettes/matches or glass which can act as a magnifying glass and concentrate the rays to cause a fire.

Fasten all gates — but note that sometimes farmers will leave a gate open so animals can reach food or water. The best advice is leave them as you find them.

Keep your dogs under close control — it is the law that you do not let it disturb wildlife or farm animals. A farmer may legally shoot any dog worrying livestock.

Keep to public paths across farmland.

Use gates and stiles to cross fences, hedges and walls — the landowner/farmer has to maintain these and climbing over will potentially cause expensive repairs, especially on dry-stone walls.

Leave livestock, crops and machinery alone.

Take your litter home — do not be a mindless idiot who happily carries a heavy full bottle of Coke to the top of a hill then abandons the empty bottle which weighs nothing. Litter can also injure wildlife and farm creatures. If you see any litter and are feeling charitable, please take it home for disposal.

Help to keep all water clean.

Protect wildlife, plants and trees.

Take special care on country roads.

Make no unnecessary noise.

Other "Etiquette"

Respect direction and privacy signs.

Even in open countryside, dog mess is disgusting. The deep tread in walking boots is especially difficult to de-mess. Unpleasant as it is, please clean up after your dog and take the plastic bags away for disposal.

Do not park your car where it will block a track or gateway.

Particularly following the foot and mouth outbreak, country communities became acutely aware of the importance of visitors to their economy and in most places, walkers are welcomed. You can respond by buying local produce.

Mobile phones can be a lifesaver. They can also be very annoying to others as can excessively loud iPods. Ask yourself whether you really need these trappings of the technological age to be constantly active when you are supposed to be enjoying the peace and quiet of the countryside.

Country roads can be narrow and tortuous. Drive carefully and if blocked by animals being moved from one place to another, do not harass them. Be patient.

Do not take plants/animals/rocks away.

For the full and official guide CLICK HERE

For free downloads of walks across England CLICK HERE