Farmers should welcome visitors to the countryside, says new government guidance which urges people to act responsibly when walking on rights of way.
The advice is contained in a refreshed version of the Countryside Code. It says people of all ages and backgrounds should enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits that nature offers – while respecting it.
The new Countryside Code coincides with the 70th anniversary of first booklet in 1951. With more people enjoying the outdoors than ever before, it has been revised to help people enjoy the countryside in a safe and respectful way.
This update – the first in over a decade – was shaped by nearly 4,000 stakeholder responses to an online survey. It sought views on best practices for visiting the countryside and protecting the natural environment and saw a huge response.
Changes include advice on creating a welcoming environment by saying hello to fellow visitors; clearer rules to underline the importance of clearing away dog poo; staying on footpaths; and not feeding livestock.
Natural England chairman Tony Juniper said: “The Countryside Code has been providing an excellent guide for people on how to get out and enjoy the outdoors safely for over 70 years.
The May bank holidays are expected to be a bumper period for visitors to the countryside. Last summer, the Countryside Code was updated to respond to issues raised during lockdown, including litter and dogs attacking livestock.