Countryside Code

RULES WHILST ENJOYING THE COUNTRYSIDE

BE SAFE - PLAN AHEAD AND FOLLOW ANY SIGNS.

Check weather forecasts 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. You may not see anyone for hours, and there are many places without clear mobile phone signals, so let someone else know where you're going and when you expect to return.

Get to know the signs and symbols used in the countryside to show paths and open countryside. See www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk.

LEAVE GATES AND PROPERTY AS YOU FIND THEM.

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.

Don't follow paths across land that has crops growing on it, wherever possible.

Use gates and stiles wherever possible - climbing over walls, hedges and fences can damage them and increase the risk of farm animals escaping.

Be careful not to disturb ruins or historic sites.

Leave machinery and livestock alone - don't interfere with animals even if you think they are in distress. Try to alert the farmer instead.

PROTECT PLANTS AND ANIMALS, AND TAKE YOUR LITTER HOME.

Litter and leftover food will spoil the countryside and can be dangerous to wildlife and farm animals. It can also spread disease.
Take your litter home with you. Dropping litter and dumping rubbish are criminal offences.

Take special care not to damage, destroy or remove features such as rocks, plants and trees. They provide homes and food for wildlife.

Wild animals and farm animals can behave unpredictably if you get too close, especially if they are with their young - so give them plenty of space.

Fires can be devastating to wildlife and habitats, so be careful not to drop a match or smouldering cigarette at anytime.

Sometimes controlled fires are used to manage vegetation, particularly on heaths and moors between October and early April, so please check that a fire is not supervised before calling 999.

KEEP DOGS UNDER CLOSE CONTROL.

By law you must keep your dog on a short lead on most areas of open country and common land between 1st March and 31st July, and at all times 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. As a general rule, keep your dog on a lead if you cannot rely on its obedience. By law, farmers are entitled to destroy a dog that worries or injures their animals.

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 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.

Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and that it can cause infections. Always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly. Also, make sure your dog is wormed regularly.

At certain times, dogs may not be allowed on some areas of open land or may need to be kept on a lead. Please follow any signs.

CONSIDER OTHER PEOPLE.

Busy traffic on small country roads can be unpleasant and dangerous to people and wildlife - so slow down.

Respect the needs of local people - for example, don't block gateways, driveways or other points of entry with your vehicle.

Keep out of the way when farm animals are being gathered or moved and follow directions from the farmer.

When riding a bike or driving a vehicle, slow down for horses, walkers and livestock giving them plenty of room. By law, cyclists must give way to walkers and horse-riders.

Support the rural economy - for example, buy your supplies from local shops.

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