The Country Code
The Country Code, The Countryside Code and The Scottish Outdoor Access Code are sets of rules for visitors to rural, and especially agricultural, regions of the United Kingdom. The Country Code dates back to the 1930s; the Countryside Code replaced it in 2004.
The original rules
The Country Code evolved from the work of various organisations and had several different versions from the 1930s. The most widely accepted version of The Country Code was published in 1981 by The Countryside Commission:
- Enjoy the countryside and respect its life and work
- Guard against all risk of fire
- Fasten all gates
- Keep your dogs under close control
- Keep to public paths across farmland
- Use gates and stiles to cross fences, hedges and walls
- Leave livestock, crops and machinery alone
- Take your litter home
- Help to keep all water clean
- Protect wildlife, plants and trees
- Take special care on country roads
- Make no unnecessary noise
In the 1960s and 70s the Country Code was publicised by several public information films on television.
The Countryside Code
In 2004 The Country Code was revised and relaunched as The Countryside Code (Côd Cefn Gwlad in Welsh) to reflect the introduction of new open access rights and changes in society over the preceding years. The revised Code was produced through a partnership between the Countryside Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales:
- Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs
- Leave gates and property as you find them
- Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
- Keep dogs under close control
- Consider other people
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code
In Scotland, where there is a more general right of access, Scottish Natural Heritage developed The Scottish Outdoor Access Code:
- Take responsibility for your own actions
- Respect people’s privacy and peace of mind
- Help farmers, landowners and others to work safely and effectively
- Care for the environment
- Keep your dog under proper control
- Take extra care if you are organising a group, an event or running a business
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code was approved in draft form by the Scottish Parliament in July 2003 following the passing of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act of the same year, and was accepted in February 2005.
For both The Countryside Code and The Scottish Outdoor Access Code, there is corresponding advice for land managers. The constituent points of each code are described in more detail in full publications.
- Leave the gate as you found it, an international rural rule
- Leave No Trace
- Tread Lightly!
- Trail ethics