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Respect, Protect, Enjoy - the Countryside Code

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The Countryside Code contains advice for the public and landowners, making it easier for visitors to help respect, protect and enjoy the outdoors.

Respect other people

  • Slow down or stop for horses, walkers and farm animals and give them plenty of room. By law, cyclists must give way to walkers and horse-riders on bridleways.
  • Keep out of the way when farm animals are being gathered or moved and follow directions from the farmer.
  • Don’t block gateways, driveways or paths with your vehicle.
  • Leave gates and property as you find them.
  • Follow pathways unless wider access is available.
  • Leave machinery and farm animals alone. If you’re worried about something, try to alert the farmer.

How can I help protect the natural environment?

We all have a responsibility to protect the countryside now and for future generations, so make sure you don’t harm animals, birds, plants or trees and try to leave no trace of your visit. When out with your dog make sure it is not a danger or nuisance to farm animals, horses, wildlife or other people.

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  • Leave no trace – take your litter home. Litter and leftover food doesn’t just spoil the beauty of the countryside, it can be dangerous to wildlife and farm animals.
  • Put it out. Fires can be as devastating to wildlife and habitats as they are to people and property. Be careful with naked flames and cigarettes, and make sure they’re extinguished properly. 
  • Keep your dog on a lead around livestock. Ensure your dog does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under control and on a lead. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog’s owner.
  • Bag it, Bin it. Dog mess isn’t just unpleasant, it can also cause infections and be harmful to wildlife and farm animals. Be a responsible dog owner and be sure to pick up after your dog and put the bag in a bin. Any rubbish bin will do.

How can I enjoy the outdoors responsibly?

Find out as much as you can about where you are going, plan ahead and follow advice and local signs. Public rights to some areas of Open Access Land may be restricted in particular places at particular times.

  • Plan ahead by referring to up-to-date maps or guidebooks - visit www.gov.uk/natural-england.
  • Keep your children safe around wild and farm animals. Give them space - they can behave unpredictably.
  • Be safe - let a friend or family member where you’re planning to go as you may be without a mobile signal.

Know your signs – get to know the signs and symbols used in the countryside to show paths and open countryside. You’ll find some of the symbols you may see in this leaflet.

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Last edited:03 May 2019 at 14:55


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