Countryside Code

The Countryside Code started life in the 1950s as the Country Code. This new version was launched in July 2004.

The Countryside Code applies to all parts of the countryside. Most of it is just good commonsense, as it is designed to help us all to respect, protect and enjoy our countryside.

Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs

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 and/or guidebooks.
  • Check weather conditions before you leave and don't be afraid to turn back.
  • It may not always be possible to get a mobile signal, so let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Get to know the signs and symbols used in the countryside.

Leave gates and property as you find them

Please respect the working life of the countryside. Our actions can affect people's livelihoods, our heritage, and the safety and welfare of animals and ourselves.

  • Leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs.
  • In fields where crops are growing, follow paths wherever possible.
  • Use gates, stiles and gaps in boundaries rather than climb over walls, fencing etc.
  • Be careful not to duisturb ruins and historic sites.
  • Leave machinery and livestock alone. If you think an animal is in distress try to alert the farmer.

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.

  • Take litter and left-over food home with you.
  • Do not damage, destroy or remove features such as rocks, plants or trees.
  • Give wild animals and farm animals plenty of space, especially if they are with their young.
  • Be carfeul not to drop a match or smouldering cigarette as fires can be devastating to wildlife and habitats.

Keep dogs under close control

The countryside is a great place to exercise dogs, but it is every owner's duty to make sure their dog is not a danger or nuisance to farm animals, wildlife or other people.

  • Keep your dog on a lead if you can not rely on its obedience.

  • Take particular care that your dog does not disturb young animals or ground nesting birds.

  • Always clean up after your dog and dispose of dog mess responsibly.

  • At certain times, dogs may not be allowed on some areas or may need to be kept on a lead. Please follow any signs.

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.

  • When driving slow down and where possible leave your car at home.

  • Don't block driveways or other entrance points with your vehicle.

  • When riding a bike or driving a vehicle, slow down for horses, walkers and livestock and give them plenty of room.

  • Support the rural economy - for example, buy your supplies from local shops.

For full details, further information and the code for land owners, please visit Natural England.