Stay safe in the countryside


As the weather finally heats up and more people head out for a walk in the countryside, we’re reminding people to take care when walking through fields with livestock.

“Now is the perfect time to go for a walk in the countryside and explore our wonderful network of paths” says Nicky Philpott Ramblers campaigns and policy director. “However the countryside is also a working environment and it’s important to be mindful of that, especially at this time of year when farm animals are rearing their young.”

“Be sympathetic to farm animals rearing their young and give them space” says NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe. “If you feel threatened by animals protecting their territory, or young, do not run, move to the edge of the field, and if possible find another way round.”

“The countryside is a beautiful place to walk in” adds Sercombe. “However, it is a working environment where animals graze. So it’s important to take care and be mindful of your surroundings so you can fully enjoy the experience.”

We've outlined some basic tips to follow below, you can find out more about walking near livestock – and with dogs – by reading the Countryside Code and Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

• Try to avoid getting between cows and their calves
• Be prepared for cattle to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you
• Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd
• Keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead around cows and sheep

• Don’t hang onto your dog – if you are threatened by cattle, let it go as the cattle will chase the dog
• Don’t put yourself at risk – find another way round the cattle and rejoin the footpath as soon as possible
• Don’t panic or run – most cattle will stop before they reach you, if they follow just walk on quietly

 For further safety information visit our advice for walkers section.