I noticed the other day that the Country Code had been updated on 4 October 2016 – but it did not make the evening news! And, I confess, I assumed that somewhere between Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and UK Government they had decided to make it even more bureaucratic or Euro-PC. Turns out I was wrong!

22I didn’t read the update but for some reason I woke up this morning feeling irritated that someone – perhaps someone who never bothers to enjoy the countryside – had decided to over complicate what has always been a set of simple rules which we were taught at school – close the gate, pick up your litter, keep your dog on a lead etc etc. Perhaps Strasberg, in a final act of pre-Brexit churlishness had decided that keeping fido on a lead denied him/her their canine rights!

Left: Well done, Madam, keep fido on a lead.

dsc_0001So I crept out of bed and started up the computer determined to vent my spline: well an hour later I’m sitting here thinking – actually the new pdf version of the Countryside Code is a well set out and clear document which contains lots of useful information! At least I’m admitting that I might have been a bit hasty in condemning the bureaucrats!  So, what does it all boil down to?

Right: There are several good reasons to shut gates!

Well, nothing has really changed that much as far as I can see, except that the rather sterile list of ‘do’s and don’ts’ have now been set in an easily digestible context. The good news is that we should still close the gate (or more accurately leave it as we found it) and we should still take our litter (and dog-mess!!) home although I notice that fido should be ‘controlled’ at all times rather than necessarily be on a lead. and there is useful Advice section for landowners/managers setting out their responsibilities.

dsc_0002-001Anyhow, at the risk of breaching some sort of copyright I thought it might be useful to paste the salient points below and point you to the very readable UK Government article and the excellent pdf leaflet (which I would recommend that every walker should carry with them in their rucksack and occasionally read while enjoying a lunchtime stop).

Left: Respect land users and make their life easier

The full UK Government article is at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code/the-countryside-code#contents

And the nifty pdf is at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/558112/countryside-code.pdf

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Right: There is no point ‘scooping’ and then discarding the bag in a hedge! – that’s just selfish and stupid!

THE COUNTRYSIDE CODE (Updated 4 October 2016)

  1. Respect other people:
    • Please respect the local community and other people using the outdoors. Remember your actions can affect people’s lives and livelihoods.
    • consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors
    • leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths unless wider access is available
  2. 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.
    • leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home
    • keep dogs under effective control
  3. Enjoy the outdoors:
    • Even when going out locally, it’s best to get the latest information about where and when you can go. For example, your rights to go onto some areas of open access land and coastal land may be restricted in particular places at particular times. Find out as much as you can about where you are going, plan ahead and follow advice and local signs.
    • plan ahead and be prepared
    • follow advice and local signs
  1. Advice for land managers:
    • Know your rights, responsibilities and liabilities
    • Make it easy for visitors to act responsibly
    • Identify possible threats to visitors’ safety

Enjoy the countryside and leave is as you found it so that others can enjoy it as well – simple really.