The Countryside Code

Your guide to enjoying parks and waterways, coast and countryside

Your guide to enjoying parks and waterways, coast and countryside 

The countryside code is your guide to enjoying parks and waterways, coast and countryside in England and Wales. It gives you the confidence needed to get out and explore and helps you to respect, protect and champion our nature spaces.   

The three pillars of the countryside code are:  

  • Respect everyone  

  • Protect the environment  

  • Enjoy the outdoors  

The countryside is for everyone. We should all feel welcome when out walking, feel confident about where to go and know how to stay safe. Whether you’re exploring your local park, taking a stroll along the coast, or heading out on a walk through rolling fields, the countryside code is an important read.  

You can download the full countryside code in English and in other languages 

The history of the countryside code and the Ramblers 

In the 1930’s, amid campaigns for increased access to the countryside, the Ramblers Association started promoting a code of conduct for its members. This was aimed at helping those new to the countryside feel comfortable when out walking and encouraging a respect for the countryside to ensure that everyone could live, work, and walk together.   
This early guidance encouraged people to “Avoid causing fires. Leave no litter. Prevent damage to walls, fences, tiles and property. Close all gates behind you. Keep to the paths through meadows and cultivated land and keep to the right when road walking. Protect trees, shrubs and flowers. Preserve bird and animal life. Save footpaths by frequent use. Pass quietly through villages. Consider the other fellow”. 

Post-war walking   

By the end of the war in 1945, campaigns to increase access to the countryside had increased in pace.   The Ramblers Association, along with the Open Spaces Society, expecting a huge increase in the number of people visiting the countryside, drafted the first ‘Country Code’. The code aimed to address concerns that with more people heading into the countryside, a lack of understanding and respect for the countryside could cause issues.   
The Ramblers Association and Open Spaces Society lobbied the government for a few years to introduce the Country Code, together with a programme of education. The campaign to improve access to the outdoors was intertwined with a desire to improve education and boost confidence so that people could enjoy the countryside.  

The newly named Countryside Code was introduced in 1951 as an amendment in the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.  Since it has been regularly revised, always with the involvement of the Ramblers.  In 2021, to mark the 70th anniversary of the countryside code a new edition was published. 


Download the full Countryside Code 

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A group of people walking across and open field of wildflowers

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man guiding woman on busy road

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A group of six Ramblers walking along a narrow track across moorland

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