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The Countryside Code

The Countryside Code gives advice on how you can enjoy your visit to the countryside and also act responsibly to protect the countryside. The code explains that is important to plan ahead, stay safe, control your dog near livestock and prevent fires.

The code

The following simple messages make up the NI Countryside Code.

Respect the people who live and work in the countryside

Show courtesy and consideration to everybody. Be a friendly visitor with a responsible way.

Know where you are allowed to go

Most land is private property and access is only available with the goodwill and tolerance of the owner. Whilst most landowners do not object to recreational users on their land, some do. Always respect a landowner's wishes.

Keep to paths across farmland

Help prevent damage to crops by walking around the edge of a field unless there is an existing path across it.

Avoid fields where there are animals, as your presence may cause them stress and endanger your own safety.

Use gates and stiles to cross fences, hedges and walls

When crossing fences, hedges and walls, use the nearest gate or stile. Damage to fencing can allow animals to stray. If you must climb a gate because it is difficult to open, always do this at the hinged end.

Leave gates as you find them

If you find a gate closed, close it when you pass through to prevent animals straying. Farmers sometimes leave gates open to allow animals to pass from one field to another to graze or drink.

Help a farmer by leaving gates as you find them. If in doubt, close a gate.

Do not interfere with livestock, machinery and crops

These are valuable commodities and should be left alone. Interference with animals and equipment may endanger you. Pay attention to warning signs as these are for your protection.

Keep dogs under control

Keep your dog on a lead when walking on roads or when close to farm animals. A dog can cause distress to animals and endanger you.

Keep your dog under control always so as not to disturb wildlife or annoy or frighten other visitors.

Protect wildlife, plants and trees

Leave all natural places as you find them. Never uproot plants as they will be lost forever. Keep your distance from wild birds and animals to prevent disturbance and stress especially to adults that are with young and in winter when food may be scarce or weather harsh.

Keep all water sources clean

The public water supply is not available to everyone living in the countryside. Take care with your personal hygiene and do not pollute water. Don't interfere with water troughs which provide clean water for livestock.

Take your litter home

All litter is unsightly. Glass, tins and plastic bags can be dangerous to people, livestock and wildlife. Keep the countryside clean by taking home your own litter and any which you may find.

Guard against all risk of fire

The countryside is vulnerable to fire especially during dry weather. Accidental fires pose a great risk to farmers and foresters. Be careful to extinguish all used matches and cigarettes. Use a stove for cooking rather than a fire. Never throw cigarettes from a car window.

Make no unnecessary noise

One of the attractions of the countryside is its peace and quiet. Do not disturb this with noise or disruptive behaviour which might annoy residents and visitors or frighten farm animals and wildlife.

Respect other recreational users

Behave responsibly. Where possible, warn others of your approach and slow down or stop if necessary. Irresponsible behaviour could lead to you and your activity being banned from the area in the future.

Take special care on country roads

Always drive carefully with reduced speed on country roads. Consider others when parking and avoid blocking entrances, gateways or other drivers' visibility. Walkers should take special care on narrow country roads and if uncertain should walk in single file.

Consider your personal safety

If possible do not go alone. Wear suitable clothing and footwear as the weather can change very quickly. Don't go if the weather conditions are beyond your experience.

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