By: Blonde Two

Respect, Protect, Enjoy

‘The outdoors is a shared space.’

Since lockdown began, many of us have been exploring our wonderful outdoor spaces in new and exciting ways. Across the country we have been discovering new cycling routes, new footpaths, and new countryside and urban green spaces. This has been wonderful to see and join in with, and has certainly brought about renewed interest in maps (something we Blondes would always encourage).

If you have recently found yourself in new outdoor environments, you might be interested to hear about the Countryside Code. It is a simple set of guidelines designed to help us all keep our green spaces beautiful for generations to come.

Relaxing outdoors is not quite the same thing as relaxing indoors, most importantly because the outdoors is a shared space. If you are thinking about finding a new walking route near you or having your first picnic with a view, here’s the Countryside Code and a few reasons to help us all understand why it is so important.

If you are a home/school educator, you might find this Countryside Code leaflet useful as a teaching tool, and if you are looking for ideas of how to get the message across in a fun way, the Scouts have a thought provoking Countryside Code true or false activity.


The Countryside Code

Respect other people:

  • consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors
  • leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths unless wider access is available

Thinking of outdoor spaces as ‘someone else’s garden’ can help us understand why considerate behaviour is important. Often these spaces are beautiful because the wider local community looks after them. We are very lucky in the UK to have so many rights of way but these often go through private property. Imagine someone walking down your garden path, how would you expect them to behave? Imagine your pets, would you want them running into the roads because someone had left your gate open?


Protect the natural environment:

  • leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home
  • keep dogs under effective control

We are used to someone else dealing with our waste for us. Our rubbish is taken away and our excrement flushed down the toilet. In the outdoors this isn’t always the case. By thinking about how we are going to take our rubbish home and deal with our own toilet needs, we can keep our outdoor spaces beautiful and safe for us as well as nature. It is important to remember that most of the animals we see when we are outdoors are also someone’s livelihood. This is just one reason why keeping dogs under control is so important.


Enjoy the outdoors:

  • plan ahead and be prepared
  • follow advice and local signs

We Blondes have talked a lot about staying safe when you are out walking but perhaps the most important advice we could give you is to follow local advice. Local rangers are happy to help and local signs are always there for a reason. Once our visitor centres are open again, these offer lots of opportunities to find out more about safe and interesting walks and rides. They are also a great source of advice on how to enjoy the countryside in a sustainable way.


Leave no trace

If you want to find out more about how you can protect the countryside you are enjoying, you might also be interested in finding out more about Leave No Trace. It’s a more detailed message but with the same ethos. It’s our outdoors, let’s join together to look after it.