Countryside Code and etiquette

Respect. Protect. Enjoy.

With an ever-increasing number of young people choosing to do their DofE, we all have a responsibility to protect the countryside for other users and future generations. The Countryside Code is a standard set of guidelines for members of the public, to ensure respect and enjoyment in the countryside in the United Kingdom.

Read our Expedition Etiquette and the countryside code here.

Five ways to respect the Countryside Code

1. Leave gates as you find them

A farmer will normally close gates to keep farm animals in, but may sometimes leave them open so the animals can reach food and water. Leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs. Leaving a gate open if it was shut could let animals stray onto dangerous roads.

2. Leave no trace

Protecting the natural environment means taking 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. Litter and leftover food doesn’t just spoil the beauty of the countryside, it can be dangerous to wildlife – so take your litter home with you, and help protect our environment by removing any other litter you see.

3. Respect livestock

Large farm animals can be daunting, but they are likely to be just as scared of you as you are of them! Keep to paths and pass animals calmly and quietly to avoid disturbing them – and please do not feed them.

4. Stick to the pathways

We are lucky to have free access to routes across farmland throughout the UK. Straying from official paths in these areas can damage the crops that farmers depend on for their living. Damaging crops costs farmers money and threatens the access to the countryside that many people enjoy. Stick to the paths provided. It’s worth remembering that each of the countries across the UK has its own rules, policies and rights of access and we should be familiar with these if we venture further afield.

5. Follow the signs

England has about 118,000 miles of public rights of way, providing many opportunities to enjoy the natural environment. Before you go on expedition get to know the signs and symbols used in to show paths and open countryside.

For more information please visit the Countryside Code website or the Northern Ireland Countryside Code website.

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