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Countryside code

From a gentle stroll or relaxing picnic to a long-distance walk or heart-pumping adventure, the countryside provides every opportunity for enjoyment and relaxation.

Freedom to walk on access land and public rights of way across the Yorkshire Dales National Park comes with responsibilities for all, many of which have been outlined in the Countryside Code.

In particular, the Code reminds people visiting the countryside to:

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

Protect the natural environment

  • Leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under effective control

Enjoy the outdoors

  • Plan ahead and be prepared
  • Follow advice and local signs

If you follow the Countryside Code wherever you go, you'll get the best enjoyment possible and you'll help to protect the countryside now and for future generations.

We also have a Ranger Code in the Yorkshire Dales National Park so you can have both a safe and enjoyable visit.

Remember, the countryside is a working environment and can be a dangerous place. Not only are there natural hazards such as potholes and fast-flowing rivers, but less obvious ones such as cows or farm traffic. Read the Ranger Code and find out all you need to know about staying safe and looking after the countryside.

Vehicles

  • Where possible, cycle, walk or use public transport to minimise your environmental impact.

  • Park in designated car parks if you have to use a private vehicle.

  • Lock and alarm your vehicle. Do not leave anything on display.

  • Reduce your speed and drive carefully on Dales roads. Even if you know the roads well, there could be a herd of cattle or horse rider round the corner.

Prepare and plan

  • Ensure you have the correct clothing and equipment.

  • Learn to use a map and keep to rights of way or access land. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority runs navigation courses throughout the year.

The Environment

  • Enjoy it and respect it.

  • Keep noise down. Tranquillity is one of the special qualities of the Dales.

  • Take only photos and memories. Leave nothing behind.

Rights of Way

  • Cyclists and horse riders should not use footpaths.

  • On bridleways cyclists should always give way to horses and walkers.

  • Prevent erosion – avoid spreading out on paths, particularly during winter or after wet weather.

  • In hay meadows during late spring and early summer, avoid spreading out and trampling the grass. This is cut and used as winter feed for livestock.

Open Access

  • Ensure you know your rights and responsibilities - visit the Open Access section of the website for more information.

  • Check any restrictions for you or your dog before you leave. Ensure you know when you must keep your dog on a lead of no more than two metres.

  • Before you walk, plan your entry and exit points.

Dogs

  • Dispose of dog waste responsibly. Bags of waste left in the open are unsightly, a health hazard and dangerous to stock and wildlife.

  • Worm your dog regularly to prevent the spread of parasites and infections to people and other animals, including ground nesting birds.

  • Keep your dog under close control, preferably on a short lead at all times to avoid disturbance to wildlife or livestock.

Sheep and lambs

  • Lambing time can run from January until June. Keep your dog under close control, preferably on a short lead. Even dogs on long leads can frighten sheep enough to lose their lambs.

  • Remember, a farmer is legally allowed to shoot any dog worrying livestock.

Cattle

  • Cattle are naturally inquisitive. If they approach, walk slowly with your dog at heel.

  • If you feel threatened, let go of your dog. It can run faster than cattle and escape. Once you are safe, regain control of your dog.

  • Always walk round cows with calves. Walking between them can be seen as a threat.

  • If in doubt do not enter the field.

Wildlife

  • Keep your dog under close control during the bird breeding season (1 March until 31 July), preferably on a short lead

  • When disturbed, ground nesting birds leave their eggs and chicks unprotected and exposed to the elements.

  • If you or your dog does disturb any wildlife, leave the area quickly so that parents may return to their young.

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Where to get the Countryside Code

Full copies of the Countryside Code are available from:

and by

  • telephoning 0845 1 003298

The Countryside Access website also contains useful information about where you can go and what you can do in the countryside.