Central England News
Expedition advice from Central England
We understand that the expedition season is an exciting time of year for participants as they get to enjoy the great outdoors, in the sunshine, with their friends. However, please make sure they still behave in an appropriate manner – keeping safe and respecting local areas and residents – and don’t bring your centre’s or the DofE’s name into disrepute.
We’ve pulled together our top five ways to help you ensure your groups stick to the Countryside Code this summer.
Not only does litter make the countryside look unsightly, but it can also be very dangerous. If litter is left behind it may be eaten by livestock which can be serious and, in some cases, fatal if they swallow it. Smaller animals and wildlife can suffocate, choke and become trapped in plastic bags. In this hot weather, with dry grass and glaring sun, glass bottles can become a fire risk which has the potential to spread quickly. The best thing you can do is to make sure you leave nothing behind.
Suggestion: Why not have a designated “rubbish monitor” each day? Participants could pick up any litter on their travels, even if they haven’t dropped it, and dispose of it in the first bin they come across or at their campsite at the end of the day. For more advice on litter, check out RSPCA’s blog.
2. Gates being left open
The Countryside Code advises leaving gates as you find them. If gates are closed in error, animals may not be able to access essential food and water. If gates are left open in error, this can cause animals to become mixed together when they need to be separate, causing them potential distress and expensive vet bills for the owners. Even if you can see more walkers coming behind you, don’t leave the gates open – they may think that it should remain open after they have passed through.
Suggestion: How about having a gate checker on each leg of their expedition? This will ensure that each group leaves the gate as they found it.
3. Respect residents and local landowners
Remember that some of the fields your young people cross may contain livestock or produce which support people’s livelihoods. Hay bales may look like fun to leap over, however these are invaluable to farmers for their livestock to feed on. If these bales split, they will become rotten.
Suggestion: Stick to the designated routes and maps and be respectful of people’s property, cattle and land.
Please show some consideration for local business owners who only have a small car park for their customers and don’t necessarily want it filled with Supervisors, Assessors or minibus drop offs. If the carpark is full, it may deter potential paying customers. So, always check with the business owner first before using their car park or, better still, stick to using car parks designated for public use. Also, please be mindful of parking on narrow country lanes – farm vehicles may find it difficult to pass, which can then impact their ability to carry out their work.
Suggestion: Try and find a drop off point or viewing spot that isn’t situated on private land. Alternatively, give something back to the local businesses and community by purchasing as much as you can from them (so it justifies a day’s parking). For example, your lunch, drinks throughout the day and perhaps your evening meal.
5. Noise levels
We know that singing and having fun all part of young people doing their expedition. However, please remind participants to consider the time of day they’re doing this and whether they’re in a particularly quiet residential area. Their rendition of “I will survive” may be motivational and amusing for those in their group, but perhaps not for people who may have come home from a busy night shift and are trying to get some sleep. Also, be mindful that you may not be the first group to have stopped at this location that day or weekend. Residents of small villages can become inundated with walkers at the most popular times of the year, so finding a spot away from houses can help keep them content.
If you’re on a campsite with other people, try to keep noise at a reasonable level. Also, if you’re leaving early the next morning, do so as quietly as you can as noise travels across an empty field.
Suggestion: Before you go on expedition, why not incorporate monitoring noise levels as part of your expedition training? You can download a free decibel monitor app and experiment with noise levels. This will help you gauge what decibel is acceptable.
For more advice on how to respect the Countryside Code when on DofE expedition, read our blog