The Country Code

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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 Scottish Outdoor Access Code differs significanly from the others in that it promotes access rights (that) include crossing over land and non-motorised recreational activities like walking, cycling, angling and horse riding, and will normally apply in rural settings. The basis of access rights over land (in Scotland) is of shared responsibilities, in that those exercising such rights have to act responsibly, following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, while land owners/managers have a reciprocal responsibility in respecting the interests of those who exercise their rights[1]

The original rules[edit]

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
  • Leave all gates as you found them
  • Keep your pets 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 shown in cinemas and on television.[2]

The Countryside Code[edit]

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[edit]

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 pets 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.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]