Countryside Code refresh is timely and relevant

Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

First Countryside Code update in over a decade brings a change in tone to inspire a welcome change in behaviour and respect.

Here at Muddy Matches country life dating, we know a fair number of those looking for rural romance and online dating with us, were among the 4,000 mud-lovers, from all walks of country life, who helped shape the new Countryside code, launched earlier this month.

It’s been 70 years since the Countryside Code was first published in 1951 and, following a year in which the nation has rediscovered an appreciation and love of fresh air, green space, and rights of way on their doorstep, a first refresh in over a decade is rather welcome and certainly, timely.

Getting in tune with the health and wellbeing benefits on being in touch with nature brings has lifted many a spirit during the uncertain times of lockdown.

However, the hike in visitor numbers exploring the countryside has brought new challenges to some outdoor spaces, re-opened existing, but less aired, issues in other rural areas and sparked plenty of discussion about best practice and acceptable behaviour. So, giving everyone the confidence to ‘enjoy nature safety’ and encouraging a sense of ‘do the right thing’ outdoors – be it the local park, a walk across fields or a trip to the coast – the Countryside Code has never been more relevant than it is today.

Interestingly, the stance has also changed with an onus on the ‘code’ acting as an informal guideline and not as a list of rules to be governed, although issued guidance concerning dog ownership and control can be legally informed during Spring/Summer on open access land. It is a deliberate effort to inform and inspire a welcome change in behaviour rather than dictate it. There is also recognition that the code now applies much wider from paddock to city park; being relevant and in all-natural places and ‘green spaces’ ventured into including waterways, woodland, coast, countryside and urban parkland.

The refreshed Countryside Code, with a clear focus on safety, respect, and accountability, came into force on 1st April and urges people to ‘Respect, Protect and Enjoy’ their time outdoors. It is a message Natural England and Natural Resources Wales are keen to get traction behind, and, as the nation’s choice of country life dating service, we are happy to support.

Key changes to the Countryside Code include:
• New advice for people to ‘be nice, say hello, share the space’ as well as ‘enjoy your visit, have fun, make a memory’.
• A reminder not to feed livestock, horses, or wild animals.
• To stay on marked footpaths, even if they are muddy, to protect crops and wildlife.
• Information on permissions to do certain outdoor activities, such as wild swimming.
• Clearer rules for dog walkers to take home dog poo, and use their own bin if a there are no public waste bins.
• Clearer guidance around dog ownership and accountability in the presence of livestock and on open access land.

Visitors are advised not to park where they will block entrances, or routes for emergency vehicles, and to take litter home.

To see the new code, CLICK HERE