You’ve no doubt heard of it, you might even be able to recall a rule or two, but what is the Countryside Code?
In the UK, the Countryside Code is government guidance for both anyone spending time in the outdoors and those who manage the land.
The reason it’s hard to remember the Countryside Code – and perhaps why it’s time for a revamp – is that, rather than a list of 10 straightforward instructions, a myriad guidelines fall within three broad areas. These are: respect, protect and enjoy.
What is the Countryside Code?
Under the banner of respect, people in the outdoors should:
Consider other people. This includes slowing vehicles when passing horses, parking considerately, and use public transport where possible.
Leave gates and property as you find them. Gates might be left open by a farmer to allow animals access to food, for example, so leave gates as you find them. Do not interfere with property.
Here, instructions to protect the natural environment include:
Leave no trace. Take litter home, be careful with naked flames, and do not destroy, damage or take natural features.
Keep dogs under control. And, of course, bag and bin dog mess.
The Countryside Side also wants people to enjoy the outdoors. To assist this, the government advises to:
Prepare before you go, checking maps, current rules, weather, and safety advice.
Be familiar with signs and symbols you might see while outdoors.
The Countryside Code for land managers
Instructions in this part of the code include keeping rights of way clear, highlighting potential risks, and keeping dangerous animals away from public paths.
The Countryside Code can be seen in full here: The Countryside Code Leaflet (publishing.service.gov.uk)