From a gentle stroll or relaxing picnic to a
long-distance walk or Heart pumping adventure, the
countryside provides every opportunity for enjoyment and
Be safe – plan ahead and follow
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 land may
be restricted while work is carried out for safety reasons,
or during breeding seasons. Follow advice and local signs,
and be prepared for the unexpected.
• Refer to up-to-date maps or guidebooks, visit www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk
or contact local information centres.
• You’re responsible for your own safety and for
others in your care, so be prepared for changes in weather
and other events. Visit www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk for
links to organisations offering specific advice on
equipment and safety, or contact visitor information
centres and libraries for a list of outdoor recreation
• 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 access land. See
Leave gates and property as you
Please respect the working life of the countryside, as
our actions can affect people’s livelihoods, our heritage,
and the safety and welfare of animals and ourselves.
A farmer will normally leave a gate closed to keep
livestock in, but may sometimes leave it open so they can
reach food and water. 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.
• If you think a sign is illegal or misleading such
as a ‘Private - No Entry’ sign on a public footpath,
contact the local authority.
• In fields where crops are growing, follow the paths
• Use gates, stiles or gaps in field boundaries when
provided – climbing over walls, hedges and fences can
damage them and increase the risk of farm animals
• Our heritage belongs to all of us – be careful
not to disturb ruins and historic sites.
• Leave machinery and livestock alone – don’t
interfere with animals even if you think they’re in
distress. Try to alert the farmer instead.
Protect plants and animals and take
your litter home
We have a responsibility to protect our countryside now
and for future generations, so make sure you don’t harm
animals, birds, plants or trees.
• Litter and leftover food doesn’t just spoil the
beauty of the countryside, it can be dangerous to wildlife
and farm animals and can spread disease – so take your
litter home with you. Dropping litter and dumping rubbish
are criminal offences.
• Discover the beauty of the natural environment and
take special care not to damage, destroy or remove
features such as rocks, plants and trees. They provide
homes and food for wildlife, and add to everybody’s
enjoyment of the countryside.
• Wild animals and farm animals can behave
unpredictably if you get too close, especially if they’re
with their young – so give them plenty of space.
• Fires can be as devastating to wildlife and
habitats as they are to people and property – so be
careful not to drop a match or smouldering cigarette at
any time of the year. 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.
Consider other people
Showing consideration and respect for other people makes
the countryside a pleasant environment for everyone – at
home, at work and at leisure.
for useful links.
• Busy traffic on small country roads can be
unpleasant and dangerous to local people, visitors and
wildlife - so slow down and, where possible, leave your
vehicle at home, consider sharing lifts and use
alternatives such as public transport or cycling. For
public transport information, phone Traveline on 0870 608
2608 or visit
• Respect the needs of local people – for example,
don’t block gateways, driveways or other entry points
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 and give them plenty of
room. By law, cyclists must give way to walkers and
horse-riders on bridleways.
• Support the rural economy – for example, buy your
supplies from local shops.
If you follow the Countryside Code wherever you go, you’ll
get the best enjoyment possible and you’ll help to protect
the countryside now and for future generations.