Happy Hiking! 10 Etiquette Tips for Countryside Walks this Summer | Modern Mummy

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Happy Hiking! 10 Etiquette Tips for Countryside Walks this Summer

Regular ramblers will already know that, when it comes to a leisurely stroll in the countryside, there are a set of golden rules that must be followed at all times.

If you’re new to rural life or have simply never been curious enough to walk the un-tarmacked path before now, brush up on the essential guidelines to keep the gardens of England clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.

1. Leave no trace. 
You might remember being taught the phrase “take only photographs; leave only footprints”, and it’s still the number one rule for any outdoors environment. Leaving litter is harmful in so many ways; it’s unsightly for others that wish to enjoy unspoilt views of the countryside, it can endanger the life of local wildlife and it costs the government around £1billion each year to tidy up! If you’ve got rubbish leftover from a picnic or activity, always look for a bin to leave it in. Can’t see one? Take it with you and dispose of it at home.

2. Don’t be scared to say hello! 
Lots of people go walking to escape the habits of modern life, such as staring at a screen all day and not talking to anybody! It might be strange to greet fellow passengers on the tube, or wave at the driver next to you, but a hearty “hello” to a fellow walker is both normal and welcomed. You don’t have to stop and chat, it just makes the trail a bit nicer for everyone.

3. Leave gates the way you find them. 
You might expect to find gates closed to keep grazing farm animals inside a field and think you’re doing the farmer a favour by securing any that you find open. However, sometimes gates will be left open to give the animals access to food or water in a different area. As you’re walking, make sure to leave each area as secure as you find it. Familiarise yourself with the various gate locks and closing mechanisms frequently found on countryside trails and, if you’re walking in a group, make sure the last person through the gate knows whether to close it or not.

4. Give way. 
You might think that by taking a walk you get to avoid traffic altogether – instead, you just encounter a different sort! When taking a bridleway, it’s the law that cyclists must give way to walkers and horse-riders, giving them plenty of room and slowing down, or stopping altogether. All traffic should be respectful of each other, so if you see a farmer and their herd, follow their directions and try to keep out of the way.

5. Manage your dog. 
Walking through open fields or forest paths with your dog is a lovely way to spend your day, but don’t forget that other people may not feel the same. You must obey any specific dog rules that apply in the areas you’re walking in and make sure that your pet does not disturb the other walkers, wildlife or farm animals that you meet. Keep your dog in sight at all times, away from areas where you do not have a right of access and, if you are not confident that it will return to you upon a command, keep it on a leash. Pay attention to where your dog goes to the toilet. It might be ‘natural’ but dog feces harbours harmful bacteria and poses a threat to other walkers. Always pick up after your dog and dispose of its waste in a designated bin or take it home with you.

6. Stick to the road. 
If there’s a designated path then you should stick to it, using stiles or gates rather than climbing over fences or through hedges, which can damage them and risk animals getting loose. If you are on open country land or registered common land then you do not need to stick to the path.

7. Bring a map. 
Other than the obvious purpose of showing the way, maps have a multitude of uses. Helping lost walkers that you come across on your route, temporary shelter when you feel the first spots of drizzle and a make-shift fan when the sun comes back out… for example.

8. Be prepared. 
One of the joys of the countryside is that there’s no technology, so you can sometimes go for hours without seeing another soul. However, this can actually become quite dangerous if you get injured, lost or stranded due to bad weather. Take reasonable precautions before you leave, such as packing a bottle of water and a snack, wearing appropriate clothing and warning someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.

9. Learn the code. 
Different pathways, such as footpaths, bridleways and byways will use different symbols to distinguish themselves. This will dictate the rules and rights of access that apply, which you will be expected to follow if you are using the route. Learn the different symbols before you leave home.

10. Enjoy yourself! 
Going for a walk is such a good way to spend time this summer. Not only is it good for your health, it’s completely free – which is win as far as we’re concerned! Take the time to soak up your surroundings, relax with your friends and family and get as many steps in as you can while the sun is shining!


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