Much of what you are about the read on this page is down to common sense. If you are new to the outdoors, and specifically for this website long distance hiking pay close attention as I think you will find that this page really enhances your feeling of doing things right.
The Countryside Code evolved from the work of a number of organizations and before it was finalized, it had a lot of different versions. Two versions emerged in the 1930s, known as the Country Code, and a Code of Courtesy. In the 1940s, with the post-way rise in outdoor leisure, the Ramblers Code came along – created by the Ramblers Association. Eventually, in 1981, the Countryside Code we still use today was published by the Countryside Commission. This was revised again in 2004, to reflect the changes in society since 1981 and the introduction of new open access rights. A temporarily revised COVID-19 code was released in 2020.
The idea of the Countryside Code is to have a set of standards for all countryside users to adhere by. They are there to protect, and preserve the local wildlife, economy and livleyhood of those who reside in the countryside.
It’s important to forget that when visiting the countryside, which we all do at some point, we are in somebody, or something else’s home. People, and wildlife live in relatively good harmony in our natural spaces, and as visitors we must ensure that we respect these sensitive spaces. After all, we would like them to be here for generations to come.
For long distance walkers, the code still applies. Please also make sure you are aware of the leave no trace rules if you are wild camping (Illegal in England and Wales).
Respect – Protect – Enjoy
The countryside code can be broken down into three sections – Respect, Protect and of course Enjoy. See! It’s not all about keeping off the grass and trying not to trample those sensitive and protected wildflowers.
To view the countryside code please visit the Government Website website. It’s a bit of a read, but understanding it will leave you with the knowledge that you are doing the right thing by the natural and rural environments which give us so much joy.
- Respect everyone working and living in the countryside. Don’t obstruct farmers from doing their work, and don’t disturb those who live within the countryside. Park mindfully, and use public transport where possible.
- Leave gates as you found them, and follow signs and instructions. Do not interfere with machinery or livestock and if you find any animals in distress, try to alert the farmer.
- Give livestock space, and understand they can be dangerous at certain times of year.
- Park sensibly, not blocking farmers access or rights of way. Face oncoming traffic when walking on roads.
- Say hello, and be friendly to fellow walkers. Give space if driving to horses and cyclists.
- Follow signs and stick to footpaths, even on open access land where footpaths are available.
- Take your litter home, don’t light fires and keep dogs on leads.
- Don’t light fires, as they can burn out of control and cause serious long-term harm to thousands of acres of countryside in extreme cases.
- Leave everything as you found it, from rocks, trees, shrubs and wildlife. Don’t take trophies home.
- If you have a dog, and need to pick up poo, bag it and bin it. Keep your dog under control and away from livestock. Farmers can shoot dogs who pose a risk to their livestock.
- Take your litter home.
- Enjoy the outdoors and make memories.
- Plan your adventure properley so you know what to expect and what you can do.
- Check weather conditions prior to arriving in the countryside
- Tell somebody where you are going, and when you will be back