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Stackyard News Apr 06

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    Get Fit For Spring, But Remember The Code!

The Ramblers' Association Scotland and NFU Scotland are together encouraging people to get out and go for a walk in the countryside this Easter, but to take care around lambs and calves and be careful not to disturb them.


As an added incentive to get outdoors, the Ramblers' Scottish Spring Walking Celebration (1) runs from 8th-18th April and features 100 led walks taking place throughout the country.

Ramblers Chairman, Alison Mitchell, said:

“Walking is the closest thing to perfect exercise and everybody can go for a walk, whatever their ability. The 100 Ramblers walks are a great incentive to get started for those who want to get fit and increase their level of physical activity. The walks taking place during this period range from a short ramble around Pollok Park in Glasgow to a 13-mile trek to the Lairig Ghru in the Cairngorms. The walks are also a great chance to get out and about with Ramblers groups, which are full of experienced and knowledgeable walkers who can help others get to know about their access rights and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.”

One of the nicest things about getting out into the countryside at this time of year is that evidence of new life is everywhere, from spring flowers in the hedgerow to new lambs and calves in the fields and on the hills. This headlong rush of new life signals the start of one of the busiest times of year for farmers and crofters across Scotland. The main lambing season now lasts from March through to May, with many calves being born during this period as well (3).

NFUS Access Officer, Sue Hilder said:

“Spring is a beautiful time in the countryside and we welcome walkers and other recreational users to come and enjoy the scenery in Scotland. This is a great opportunity to learn more about how the countryside works. However, everyone should also be aware that it's a very busy time for farmers, and a critical time for new-born animals, especially lambs.

“Seeing young lambs and their mothers in the fields is an iconic image for everyone enjoying the outdoors, but it's essential that people follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and take heed of any local advice from farmers. In particular, dogs should be kept out of fields where lambing is underway, and under close control when near livestock.”

With this in mind, joining in with one of the Ramblers’ Associations 100 Spring Walks is an ideal way to enjoy the countryside this spring and help ensure a successful lambing season as well.


(1) The Ramblers Scottish Spring Walking Celebration runs 8-18th April. The walking organisation is inviting members of the public to join one of 100 led walks taking place throughout the country.These walks are free of charge (some involve transport costs) and a grading system is used which also shows the number of miles covered, so new walkers can find a walk which suits their capabilities. The list of walks can be downloaded from the Ramblers Scotland website or sent out from the office, call 01577 861222. Walks can also be searched for on

(2) The Scottish Outdoor Access Code, approved by the Scottish Parliament, gives detailed information on responsible access for recreational users and land managers, as a requirement of the access legislation under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. For more information, see

(3) Lambs are particularly vulnerable, both before and after they are born. Pregnant ewes sometimes miscarry if they are put under stress or take fright before their lambs are born. New lambs can very easily be separated from their mothers if the flock is disturbed, and this can result in the lambs getting lost and dying of starvation or exposure. Sheep are rather nervous creatures at the best of times, and even very well-behaved dogs on leads can be very disturbing to nervous ewes at this time of year. In view of this, the Scottish Outdoor Access Code advises people to avoid walking, riding or cycling through fields with lambs and calves, if possible, and never to take a dog into a field with young animals.

Guidance in the Code includes the following advice:

  • FIELDS WITH YOUNG ANIMALS PRESENT: You can avoid disturbing sheep close to lambing time, or young animals such as calves, lambs, foals and farmed deer, by going into a neighbouring field or onto adjacent land. If this is not possible, keep as far from the animals as possible. Do not take dogs into fields where there are young animals present.

  • FIELDS WITH FARM ANIMALS: Access rights extend to such fields, but remember that some animals, particularly cows with calves, but also horses, pigs, and farmed deer, can react aggressively towards people. Before entering a field, check to see what alternatives there are. If you are in a field of farm animals, keep a safe distance and watch them carefully.

  • DOGS:
    • never let your dog worry or attack livestock;
    • do not take your dog into a field where there are lambs, calves or other young animals;
    • if you go into a field of farm animals, keep your dog on a short lead or under close control and keep it as far as possible from the animals;
    • during the bird breeding season (usually April to July), keep your dog under close control or on a short lead in areas such as moorland, forests, grassland, loch shores and the seashore;
    • pick up and remove your dog's faeces if it defecates in a public open place.


Ramblers Scotland Contacts:

  • Helen Todd, Access Campaign Officer, Ramblers Scotland: 01577 861 222 (office) or 07733 118289 (mobile)
  • Kathryn Wortley, Promoting Walking Officer, Ramblers Scotland: 01577 861 222 (office)

NFUS Contact:

  • Anna Davies, Communications Officer: 0131 472 4020 (office) or 07775 804717 (mobile)

link NFU Scotland Welcomes New Access Grant Scheme
link NFUS Welcomes Announcement of Access Funding
link Villagers And Visitors Enjoy Rural Retreat With Access For All

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