Culture, Places

As the UK experiences a cultural and societal shift towards more time being spent outdoors and a population that has become increasingly environmentally conscious, new research reveals that half of Brits have never heard of the Countryside Code.

The Countryside Code is a mainstay of the great outdoors in the UK and offers advice on how to enjoy a visit to the countryside and how to protect it by acting responsibly. 

The Research

The new research, commissioned by Merrell, as part of a project with creative studio Adapt to reimagine the Code for a new generation, reveals a lack of knowledge of the guidelines.

The survey revealed that almost half of UK adults were completely unaware of the Code and the guidelines outlined with one in ten adults believing that the Countryside Code was a book by a popular author.

Despite this, the study showed that 83% are becoming more concerned about nature and green spaces and 75% mentioned that they are spending more time outside since the pandemic. 

Results from the survey also suggested that the younger generation are even more nonchalant when it comes to outdoor etiquette, with almost two thirds (64%) of 16–24-year-olds polled claiming to not having heard of the statutory guidance.

However, increasingly young people are taking to the countryside with 83% of 18–35-year-olds polled stating they would be more likely to spend more time in the countryside in the coming years than they would before the pandemic.

This increase in interest has led to young people discovering the benefits of the outdoors, with 43% of 18–35-year-olds stating that a visit to the countryside improves their mood and wellbeing.

A new campaign by Merrell, entitled ‘Know Your Code’, aims to promote the guidelines in a modern and engaging way as well as helping to educate on the importance of outdoor activity as visits to the countryside increase.

The reimagined Code focuses on historic guidance such as keeping your dog on a lead in fields (keep your friends close and your pooch closer) and closing gates behind you (mess with mates not gates). 

The official Countryside Code

Respect other people
  • Consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors 
  • Park carefully so access to gateways and driveways are clear
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Follow paths but give way to others where it is narrow
Protect the natural environment 
  • Leave no trace of your visit, take all your litter home
  • Do not have BBQs or fires
  • Keep dogs under effective control 
  • Dog poo – bag it and bin it
Enjoy the outdoors
  • Plan ahead, check what facilities are open, be prepared
  • Follow advice and local signs and obey social distancing measures


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