The UK is blessed with stunning countryside, from rolling hills and expansive moors to lush forests and picturesque coastlines. For many, exploring these natural wonders provides a sense of solace and connection to the great outdoors. However, with this privilege comes the responsibility of preserving these landscapes for future generations to cherish.
To help with this, Natural England have a simple countryside code championed by family favourite Shaun the Sheep. By making it memorable and engaging for the whole family, everyone can enjoy a baa-rilliant time outdoors!
There are three main parts to the countryside code which we'll explore with our friend Shaun: Respect, Protect and Enjoy!
- Be considerate to those living in, working in and enjoying the countryside - with such a vast amount of countryside in the UK, there are people living and working in the countryside all the time. From farmers and land owners to rural communities and groups, everyone deserves to be considered while you enjoy the great outdoors.
- Follow local signs and keep to marked paths - Many countryside and public footpaths can cross through farm land, privately owned areas and other important biodiverse habitats for wildlife, so it's important to stay on the paths so that the delicate balance of nature remains undisturbed.
- Leave gates as you find them - while most of us growing up might have been told to 'shut gates behind you', it's more important to leave them how you find them (this could be for a huge number of reasons).
- Do not block access to gateways or driveways when parking - these access points are often crucial for those living and working locally, or for providing access for emergency services, vets, rural vehicles etc.
- Be nice, say hello and share the space - Being outdoors can have a positive impact on our physical and mental health and it's great to say hello to others enjoying the British countryside too.
Protect the environment
- Do not light fires and only have BBQs where signs say you can - Some woodlands are protected habitats especially to rare animals, we need to look after them for years to come!
- Always keep dogs under control and in sight - This is important for other people enjoying the countryside but also for farmers, farm animals and wildlife.
- Care for nature - it's important we don't damage or disturb nature so that everyone can enjoy it, and it can remain here for many more years!
- Take your litter home - Pop it in your pocket or a small waste bag and take it home so you leave no trace of your visit.
- Bag and bin dog poo - no-one likes to tread in it!
Enjoy the outdoors
- Check your route and plan your adventure- it's always good to be prepared as often there's no mobile signal in some rural areas so know where you are going first. Know what to expect and what you can do in the area - some places might have certain access points unavailable and you may need a coat or sun cream depending on the weather (sometimes both in the UK!).
- Enjoy your visit, have fun and make a memory - This is an important one! Being outside is great for both physical and mental health for all ages, and some of our favourite childhood memories are those spent exploring outside and being free. Take pictures to make lasting memories and have fun exploring the beautiful British countryside!
So however you most enjoy the countryside, have a baa-rilliant time in the great outdoors and always remember to Respect, Protect and Enjoy, just like Shaun!