Protect the invisible: Take the lead

A family playing their part to help nature, by keeping their four-legged companion on a lead

Exploring the Peak District National Park with your four-legged friend is a great way to enjoy the beautiful landscape, and by keeping your dog on a lead you can help to protect the livestock and wildlife that live here.

Walking in the Peak District countryside is a popular destination for a vast majority of dog owners and we welcome well behaved dogs on a lead. Keeping your dog on a lead ensures that wildlife, livestock and other visitors are safe from disturbance and is also a good way to keep your four-legged companion safe too.

Every year in March, the amazing wildlife that makes it home in our uplands, enter breeding season. This is a vitally important time, especially for the rare native wildlife whose populations are threatened by historical habitat loss, climate change and many other factors. Native species that make their home in in our uplands include ground-nesting birds such as curlew and golden plover, as well as adders, dragonflies, red deer and many more.

Female red deer, hinds, are very protective during spring as they guard their young calves
Female red deer, hinds, are very protective during spring as they guard their young calves
Female red deer, hinds, are very protective during spring as they guard their young calves

You might hear the haunting call of the curlew as the adults soar over their hidden nests. Only if you’re very lucky will you catch a glimpse of the furtive adders as they emerge from hibernation and seek a mate or settle in the sun to bask. During May and June, red deer calves will be completely hidden in the long vegetation, dependant on their mothers and barely able to walk.

The world of wildlife is mostly invisible to humans, with plants and animals that may spend their entire life hidden from our eyes. These secret species can be especially sensitive to being disturbed, and our canine companions with their more powerful senses are especially good at finding those treasures which are hidden to us. To protect the invisible, please keep your dog on a short 2m lead at all times, especially from 1st March to 31st July when it is the law in the countryside and wildlife is at its most sensitive.

A family out volunteering at Longshaw, helping nature by collecting seeds and taking the lead with their dog
A family out volunteering at Longshaw, helping nature by collecting seeds and taking the lead with their dog
A family out volunteering at Longshaw, helping nature by collecting seeds and taking the lead with their dog

Additionally, the spring months across the countryside are accompanied by the traditional sights and sounds of young farm animals, such as bleating lambs gambling happily in the lush grass. Cows and sheep will be pregnant or suckling young across the Peak District. Dogs should always be on a lead around livestock, especially at this crucial time of year. If you ever feel threatened by cattle when out with your dog, then let go of the lead as the cattle are more likely to be interested in the dog. Help our countryside to be productive farmland as well as a home for wildlife by taking the lead.

By walking with your dog on the lead, you can be a guardian of the landscapes that you love. Protect our countryside for the future of people and wildlife - thank you.

For more inspiration for the best places to take your dog, take a look at our page for pooches here.