As the country prepares for a month of religious, royal and family celebrations, school vacations and two four day weekends, the CLA in the North is asking visitors to the countryside to remember that they are entering a working environment where they should respect the land, livestock and their owners, as well as wildlife and the environment.
Director CLA North, Douglas Chalmers
Douglas Chalmers, Director CLA North, says: “With Easter on the horizon, the May Bank Holiday, the Royal wedding, and more people holidaying at home, we can confidently predict a busy time for the countryside. The recent spell of good weather saw record numbers at many places, and we expect this to continue.
“Visitors are of course welcome. Everyone should be able to experience and enjoy the scenery, heritage and biodiversity that many of us live with, and their visits help to support many rural businesses and jobs essential to smaller, more dispersed communities.
“So I hope that I discourage nobody by asking everyone to remember a few points that should make their visit even more enjoyable and help them to leave a good impression on their rural hosts.
“Agriculture is unlike most other industries. Our factory floor is the very scenery that attracts people, so I would ask visitors to be aware of this while they are out enjoying it. A narrow lane or gate blocked by parked cars, a gate left open or thoughtless littering can have serious implications for the farmer, as well as his stock and for wildlife such as ground nesting birds. This is one of the farmers' busiest times of the year, with the field work and lambing they do now helping to determine their income later in the year.
“Spring doesn’t only mean that people spend more time outdoors, but cattle do so as well. Cows with calves are naturally protective, especially against dogs, so please be aware of your surroundings and avoid livestock if you can. If in any doubt choose an alternative route, it simply isn’t worth the risk.
“I’m afraid to say that many problems are caused by dogs. You may know that your dog is only running around happily enjoying the space and the new scents, but livestock and wildlife will simply see it as a threat. Pregnant ewes losing lambs and wild birds abandoning their nests are only two sad outcomes, so dogs should be kept on their leads, except if you attract the attention of cows with calves. Then your dog should be let go – the cows will follow the dog who invariably escapes, leaving the walker to get to safety.
“The vast majority of visitors do behave responsibly. The Countryside Code still exists, and can be found on the web before you set out, or from many local tourist information centres. Follow it and you won’t go far wrong – and don’t be afraid to talk to farmers. Yes, some may be too busy to talk, but most will be happy to explain what they are doing, and why. After all, every visitor is a customer of our home grown produce.
“Enjoy your visit to rural Britain. But help us to look after it so that we can welcome you back.”
The five sections of The Countryside Code are dedicated to helping members of the public respect, protect and enjoy the countryside:
- 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
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