The Countryside Code – a Quick guide


The ‘Countryside Code’ is a commonsense approach to enjoying and protecting the outdoors. It is important to respect other users of the countryside and the wider community.

  • Please respect the working life of the countryside.
  • Leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs.
  • In fields where crops are growing, follow the paths wherever possible.
  • Use gates and stiles wherever possible – climbing over walls, hedges and fences can damage them.
  • 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. Dropping litter and dumping rubbish are criminal offences.
  • 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.
  • Do not start fires.

Leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs.

For formal information on the countryside code and access in the UK please consult:

  • Respect the needs of local people – don’t block gateways, driveways or other entry points with your vehicle.
  • By law, cyclists must give way to walkers and horse riders on bridleways.
  • Keep out of the way when farm animals are being gathered or moved and follow directions from the farmer.
  • By law, you must control your dog so that it does not disturb or scare farm animals or wildlife. You must keep your dog on a short lead on most areas of open country and common land between 1 March and 31 July, and at all times near farm animals.
  • If a farm animal chases you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead.  The farm animal will follow the dog.
  • Take particular care that your dog doesn’t scare sheep and lambs or wander where it might disturb birds that nest on the ground and other wildlife – eggs and young will soon die without protection from their parents.
  • Always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly.

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