Naturenet: The Country Code and Countryside Code

The Country Code
and Countryside Code

Origins of the Country Code

Walkers enjoying the countrysideThe Country Code was one of the first, and best known attempts to educate people to avoid conflicts which arose from the influx of visitors from urban areas to the working countryside, particularly the National ParksPages marked with this symbol are exclusively written for Naturenet. The original code was aimed squarely at the visitor, and made no mention of the responsibilities of landowners.

The National Parks Commission reported in September 1951:

“We regard the Country Code as a core around which will grow a body of information about the countryside. As knowledge spreads, there should be much less of the damage often done by sheer thoughtlessness in well intentioned people. By all these means we hope there will be a deepening respect and friendliness between countryman and townsman”.

The 1981 Country Code

The Country Code evolved from various origins, and has had several differing incarnations from the 1930s onwards, and some local variation too. There is no one 'correct' version. The most widely accepted version prior to the Countryside Code in 2004 was published in 1981 by the Countryside Commission, and reads:

  1. Enjoy the countryside and respect its life and work
  2. Guard against all risk of fire
  3. Fasten all gates
  4. Keep your dogs under close control
  5. Keep to public paths across farmland
  6. Use gates and stiles to cross fences, hedges and walls
  7. Leave livestock, crops and machinery alone
  8. Take your litter home
  9. Help to keep all water clean
  10. Protect wildlife, plants and trees
  11. Take special care on country roads
  12. Make no unnecessary noise

The 2004 Countryside Code

As part of the implementation of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the Countryside Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales developed a new Countryside Code. This Code was designed to reflect both the changes that had happened over the previous 20 years and the introduction of the new public right of access to open country and registered common land.

The new Countryside Code was published in July 2004, and is divided into two parts - for the public, and for land managers. The Countryside Code is less concise than the old Country Code, and includes reference to other material. This is a summary of the new Code:

Countryside Code - advice for the public

Countryside Code - advice for land managers

Make it easy for visitors to act responsibly

Identify possible threats to visitors' safety

Countryside Access: welcome to the outdoors