The Countryside Code was established to help protect the countryside, and to help ensure that the impact of tourism on a region is kept to a minimum.
There are several sections to the Code, that you should keep in mind when exploring the countryside.
Remember that the Countryside Code is there for the benefit of all – those who live and work in the countryside, visitors to the region, and future generations.
Be safe, plan ahead, and follow any signs.
Make sure someone knows where you are going, especially when setting off into more remote regions.
Many regions have weather than can change rapidly (especially on higher ground) and it is very easy to lose your bearings in dense fog.
Likewise, there are often important animal breeding grounds that should not be disturbed at certain times of the year.
Leave gates and property as you find them
If a gate is closed when you get to it, make sure it is closed behind you! But if it is open, it has probably been left deliberately open by the farmer.
If your path leads you to climb over a fence or stone wall…you are probably on the wrong path. Retrace your steps.
Avoid walking across fields of crops.
Protect plants and animals
Both wild animals and farm animals should be given a wide berth, both for safety and to avoid disturbing them.
Be extremely vigilant not to start fires.
Take litter home
Even small amounts of litter, perhaps above all those that are not quickly biodegradable, can rapidly spoil an environment, both by making it less attractive and by causing harm to existing wildlife
Control dogs properly
How sure are you that your well-behaved dog won’t set off after those sheep or get over-excited? In most circumstances in the countryside a dog must be kept on a short lead. Occasionally access to dogs may be limited or disallowed altogether.
Be considerate to others
Farmers, walkers, car drivers, cyclists – each has particular needs in the countrsyide. Be sure to respect the needs of others.
All obvious perhaps, but the Countryside Code is frequently overlooked or neglected. The well-known saying ‘leave only footprints, take only photographs’ (adopted by the US National Parks) is also worth remembering.