Plea for walkers to enjoy and respect countryside

The organisation which represents farmers and landowners in England and Wales is hoping people will enjoy the fresh air after the Christmas festivities while respecting the Countryside Code.

Countryside on the Shropshire/Welsh border
Countryside on the Shropshire/Welsh border

The Country Landowners Assocation (CLA), which represents 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural business across England and Wales is urging the walkers, cyclists and horse riders to stick to public rights of way, keep dogs under control and take their litter home.

Robert Dangerfield from CLA Cymru, the Welsh arm of the organisation, said: “Country walks are a festive tradition but can cause irreparable harm through thoughtless behaviour. Getting out and enjoying the countryside over Christmas is a good thing, but it is vital that dog owners understand their responsibilities when walking their dogs on farm-land.

“Landowners and farmers are the custodians of the countryside, working tirelessly day in, day out, to maintain the landscapes that people want to see. We welcome visitors to share this beauty but ask that you use common sense when enjoying a day out in the countryside.”

“The Countryside Code is generally adhered to by most people, but there are a few worrying trends either based on anti-social behaviour or a lack of awareness of the working countryside. All visitors should be conscious that the countryside is also a place of work where the land, livestock, machinery, wildlife and environment must be respected.”

The CLA is asking people not to park in farm gate entrances as farmers needed to enter their fields at all times of the year. They should also securely close farm-gates behind them and respect field boundaries.

Countryside on the Shropshire/Welsh border

"Please keep your dog on a lead if you are anywhere near livestock. Livestock-worrying by dogs not adequately controlled by their owners - is on the increase," he added.

"Even the best-trained family pet can chase sheep and wildlife if not kept under close control. At this time of year ewes are in-lamb and they and their developing young ones are intensely vulnerable to stress and shock. Also, clear up after your dog."

Mr Dangerfield said people should take their litter home with them and dispose of bulky waste properly.

"Fly-tipping is a blight on the landscape and can cost up to £800 per incident to clear away and all at the farmer’s expense," he said.

Cyclists and drivers should slow down or stop for horses, walkers and farm animals and give them plenty of room. By law, cyclists must give way to walkers and horse-riders on bridleways.

The Countryside Code applies to all parts of the countryside in England and Wales.

The CLA has 30,000 members across rural England and Wales and is dedicated to supporting landowners and their businesses.

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