Follow the Countryside Code

Walker on track through hedges of white hawthorn blossom

Enjoy spending time outside at the coast and countryside places we care for? You can help us to keep them safe and enjoyable by following a few simple guidelines during your visit and observing the Countryside Code.

Issues such as littering can cause significant harm to wildlife, and it only takes one stray spark from a barbecue or campfire to start a wildfire that can damage large areas of countryside. With your help we can avoid these problems, and continue protectecting these places for generations to come. 

Care for the countryside

When you visit the coast and countryside, we ask that you please follow the Countryside Code:

Respect other people

  • Consider the local community and other people enjoying and working in the outdoors
  • Park carefully so access to gateways and driveways is clear
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Follow marked paths and local signs
  • Be nice, say hi

Protect the natural environment

  • Leave no trace of your visit, take all your litter home
  • Take care with BBQs and fires – only use in designated areas
  • Keep dogs under control
  • Dog poo – bag it and bin it – any public bin will do

Enjoy the outdoors

  • Enjoy your visit – have fun – make a memory
  • Be prepared, check local conditions and what facilities are open

Thank you and enjoy your day out.

Why can’t I bring a BBQ?

Barbecues are a significant fire risk and can be hazardous for wildlife. The Countryside Code says not to have barbecues or campfires in the open countryside. 

The countryside can become very dry during the spring and summer months, which creates the perfect conditions for fires to ignite and quickly spread. 

In 2020 several large blazes broke out at the places we care for during the spring and summer months. One wildfire on the Devon coast was started by a barbecue, and required six fire engines and a police helicopter to extinguish. At Studland Beach, where the risk of wildfire was extreme, fire crews extinguished 30 unattended barbecues in a single night.

'We’re urging people not to bring barbecues to the countryside or the coast,' said Ben McCarthy, our Head of Nature Conservation. 'All it takes is a single spark from a barbecue or a dropped cigarette to cause a serious fire.'

Wildfires also put a lot of pressure on the emergency services, and endanger local communities and wildlife. Although we have a very small number of designated barbecue areas at some of the places we care for, for instance on concrete surfaces where the risk of fire is low, these should not be used during periods whilst there is significant fire risk.

Ben continued, ‘Please think of others; think of the wildlife; think of our emergency services; and don’t bring barbecues to the beach or countryside.’

Please take litter home with you

In the summer of 2020, 100 bin bags were filled in one weekend at Dovedale in the Peak District, while at Formby in Merseyside there were cool boxes, chairs and glass bottles strewn across the beach.

As well as spoiling the beauty of landscapes such as these, litter can also be extremely dangerous for wildlife which can easily become entangled or mistake it for food. It can also act as fuel for wildfires.

If you do have a picnic or produce any other litter during your visit, please keep hold of it until you find a bin, or take it home with you.


What do I need to know about visiting with my dog?

Well-behaved dogs are welcome at most of our coast and countryside locations, unless there is a nature conservation reason for a place to be dog-free. This might vary according to the time of year, so it’s best to check the property webpage every time you plan to visit with your dog.

While visiting, please pay attention to any local signage relating to dog walking – for example whether your dog needs to be kept on a lead or whether it’s safe to go off-lead. Your dog will need to stay on a lead in certain areas, for example where there are ground-nesting birds, or in very sensitive habitats that can be affected by dog’s paws or poo.

Dogs should also be kept on leads around livestock, but if cattle or other large animals try to chase your dog then it is safer to drop the lead until you are clear of the area.

If you do have your dog off-lead in a permitted area, please remember that you will be sharing that space with other dogs and people, some of whom might be nervous. Ensure that your dog remains within sight at all times, and will respond reliably to a recall.

Please bag your dog’s poo and carry it until you find a bin, or take it home with you. If left, dog poo can harm habitats by changing the nitrogen balance of soils, and it can also carry diseases that cause cows to have still-births.

Please keep to the footpaths

We have hundreds of miles of walking routes to explore all around England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some of these trails run through crop fields or environmentally sensitive locations, so we ask that you always keep to the footpath in order to avoid damaging the surrounding area.

If you’re exploring a new trail then it’s worth taking a map in order to make sure that you’re following the correct route, and don’t forget to look out for local signs and waymarkers as well.

 

A ranger repairing a dry stone wall in the Peak District

Help look after the places you love 

With your help, we can continue carrying out vital work to restore footpaths, create and preserve habitats for wildlife, conserve historic houses and so much more. Your support means more now than ever as we come to terms with the impact of the coronavirus.