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Countryside Code

Please respect the working life of the countryside, as our actions can affect people's livelihoods, our heritage, and the safety and welfare of animals and ourselves.

  • Check the weather forecast before you leave, and don't be afraid to turn back if necessary
  • Follow the public footpaths wherever possible, particularly when crossing crop fields. Use gates, stiles or gaps in field boundaries when provided. Climbing over walls, hedges and fences can damage them, and increase the risk of farm animals escaping
  • Leave gates as you find them - a farmer will normally leave a gate closed to keep livestock in, but may sometimes leave it open so that they can reach food and water
  • Leave machinery and livestock alone, but alert the farmer if you think that an animal is in distress
  • Litter and leftover food not only spoils the beauty of the countryside, but can be dangerous to livestock and wildlife; so please take your litter home with you
  • Don't damage or remove rocks, plants or trees as they provide home and food for insects, birds and animals
  • Dog walkers - by law you must control your dog so that it doesn't scare or disturb farm animals and wildlife.¬† On most areas of open country and common land you must keep your dog on a short lead between 1st March and 31st July.....and all year round near farm animals. Not only are dogs liable to be shot by a farmer for worrying sheep, but the animals would be shocked and could lose their young. Moreover a dog running amongst cattle is likely to be kicked or even trampled to death. If a farm animal chases you and your dog, then it is safer to let your dog off the lead and hotfoot it for the nearest exit!
  • Drive carefully, especially on narrow country lanes

A Farmer's Perspective

Pett farmer Tim Jury is well placed to advise on the countryside, having farmed livestock for many years and also being a keen off-road runner and fellow member of Hastings Runners.

He says: "As with so many enjoyable pursuits walking and running in the countryside comes with a health warning! Seriously though we should remember that we share the countryside with many others, not least the animals providing us with milk, meat, wool and transport etc. Your main concern should be for your own safety and those with you, so when passing through a field with animals such as horses and cows take care not to scare them by running/walking through their midst. Better to deviate where necessary from the footpath and skirt round a herd or flock; walk or run slowly and steer clear of individual animals that have young, especially cows and their new born calves. it is very rare for animals to attack anyone, unless they are protecting their young.

"Many sheep farmers are becoming increasingly worried by the growing number of sheep worrying incidents. Sheep experience acute distress when worried by unfamiliar dogs, particularly at lambing time, and when new born lambs are separated from their mothers it can then become very difficult to get them to "bond" properly again.

"Most people using a public footpath are potentially an asset to any farmer, as they can see if anything is obviously wrong with livestock  or if an animal has fallen into a river etc. In such an instance do let the farmer know right away, even if he is just about to sit down to his Sunday lunch! And finally, do please enjoy the beauty of the countryside as it is there to be enjoyed by everyone!"






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