19 April, 2012
As a rural insurer, we want everyone to be able to
enjoy the countryside we live and work in, and our FarmSafe for Schools
initiative promotes how we can all do this safely. Alongside
FarmSafe for Schools, for the next six months, we will be looking
at the different sections of the Countryside Code on our blog. The
Countryside Code is a series of simple principles designed to help
both landowners and visitors to the countryside, all following the
mantra of Respect, Protect, Enjoy. This month, we look at the
Countryside Code for the Public, and part one of this is 'Respect
The first principal of the Countryside Code for members of the
public is simply 'respect other people'. This is split into two key
points - consideration of local people and others enjoying the
countryside, and leaving gates and property as you find them and
Consider the local community and others enjoying the
There are several simple steps you can take to ensure your visit
to the countryside doesn't upset or inconvenience others. For
example, if you are driving make sure your parking spot isn't
blocking any gateways, driveways or other paths. If you encounter
walkers, horses or farm animals while driving or cycling, slow down
or stop for them to pass and make sure you give them plenty of
room. If you're cycling on a bridleway, be aware that by law you
must give way to walkers and horse riders.
Bear in mind that there are people at work in the countryside as
well as fellow visitors, so be as cooperative as you can to help
them continue to go about their daily activities. For example, try
to keep out of the way when farm animals are being moved, and
follow the directions and instructions of the farmer.
Countryside roads are often narrow, winding lanes, where busy
traffic can cause a real problem. If at all possible, leave your
car at home and walk, cycle, take public transport or lift-share.
If you do have to drive, go slowly and be considerate of other road
users and wildlife.
Leave gates and property as you find them and follow
Although leaving gates shut so animals can't escape their fields
seems like the most sensible thing to do, sometimes the farmer may
intentionally leave gates open so their animals can move between
fields to access food and water. For this reason, you should always
make sure you leave gates as you find them, and if you're in a
large group make sure the message gets passed back to the last
person so they know what to do.
Steer clear of any machinery or farm animals you come across as
you could risk putting yourself or others in danger. Even if you
see an animal that looks like it is in distress, try and alert the
farmer rather than getting involved yourself. Also take care not to
disturb any ruins or historic sites you come across.
When exploring the countryside, follow paths unless you know
wider access is allowed, such as on open country or registered
common land. Use gates, stiles or gaps in field boundaries if you
can, as climbing over walls, hedges and fences can cause damage and
potentially increase the risk of farm animals escaping.
If you come across a sign you think is incorrect or misleading,
such as a 'Private - No Entry' sign on a public path, contact the
local authority who can look into it.
Coming next in our Countryside Code series - Protect the
For more information about the Countryside Code, please visit the
Natural England website.