The summer holidays are ahead of us and for many, a UK staycation is the most realistic option. But will holidaymakers follow the new Countryside Code?
The public has embraced the great British countryside during the long months of the pandemic. Last year’s Department of Transport’s national travel attitudes study reveals 20 percent of respondents plan more holidays in the UK post-lockdown. But the growing popularity of staycations also poses risks.
New Countryside Code
As visitors have flooded into beauty spots and discovered hidden gems of rural Yorkshire, it is perhaps unsurprising their appetite has been whetted. And while the sun may not always shine, there is plenty to do and see, bringing a welcome boom to rural economies.
Villagers in the North York Moors are conflicted. While they welcome visitors, an influx of people can jeopardize the very scenery they’ve travelled to see. Locals worry that new converts to a rural setting are yet to learn of the new Countryside Code, introduced in April this year.
Last year an epidemic afflicted many rural beauty spots. Litter is unsightly and dangerous to wildlife and farmed animals. On average the RSPB receives 14 calls a day about animals affected by litter. These calls spike in the summer months. Local villagers organise litter sweeps to try to contain the problem, but like the pandemic, it is hard to keep a lid on it.
Animals get entangled in plastic can holders, leaving them trapped or wounded. In search of food, birds and small mammals get stuck in cans or glass bottles and walkers’ dogs can be maimed by sharp edges. Some animals suffocate inside plastic bags or die from ingesting them. Horses have died from eating dog poo bags thrown into their fields.
The lazy visitor unwilling to take their litter home leaves a lasting legacy. Many months later animals eating or drinking from polluted areas can ingest small particles of discarded litter.
Courtesy allays farmer anxieties
Rural Insurer broker, Rupert Wailes-Fairbairn, raises another issue close to the heart of rural dwellers. Dogs allowed off the leash in areas of farmed livestock can act in unpredictable ways. Set farmers’ minds at rest by keeping your dog on a lead.
The risk is not only to farm animals, but to the public too.
“As well as being courteous to those who farm the local land, it is important to be fully aware of the risks that come with visiting the countryside.
“Even the most placid farm animals can become dangerous when they are stressed, with adverse weather, illness, disturbance, or maternal instincts just some of the triggers.”
Comments Wailes-Fairbairn. He goes onto say:
“Farmers understand and recognise signs of stress – but many members of the public don’t. Sadly, every year people are seriously and fatally injured by livestock and walkers should never underestimate these animals, particularly at this time of year, when cattle have calves at foot and protective maternal instincts are at play.
“Always remember to leave gates as you find them. Farmers close gates to keep animals in or leave them open to give access to food and water. Do not interfere with livestock and give them plenty of space.
“Finally, do not let dogs off the leash where livestock is present and keep them away from animals at all times.”
A surge of visitors to the Yorkshire countryside is expected in the coming weeks. Much of the land is working land. The actions of summer visitors will impact on the lives, and livelihood of others, and will leave a mark on the homes of the animals we claim to love.
If you are planning a staycation, or a day visit to the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, do remember to read the new Countryside Code.