Thousands of people are set to enjoy four bank holidays in the space of six weeks this spring, and many will take the opportunity to head out into the beautiful countryside as the weather gets warmer.
CLA South East, which represents thousands of landowners, farmers and rural businesses in Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Isle of Wight, welcomes the influx of visitors but is urging the public to enjoy rural areas responsibly.
We would encourage people to stick to footpaths and bridleways, respect other users of the rights of way, and not leave personal items on display in cars.
Thefts from vehicles often tend to increase during the spring and summer months, and leaving valuables on display or windows down is an open invitation for thieves.
Megan Lock, Rural Adviser at CLA South East, said: “The spirit of the Countryside Code is generally adhered to by the majority of people, but there are a few worrying trends that are either based on anti-social behaviour or a lack of awareness of the working countryside.
“Common problems include littering, fly-tipping and mismanaging dogs. Accessing the fresh air and getting close to nature have widely researched health and wellbeing benefits, but visitors and their dogs need to act responsibly, especially during lambing season as livestock worrying is on the increase.
“Landowners welcome visitors to share in the natural and farmer-shaped beauty of our countryside, but please don’t stray from footpaths and bridleways, leave gates how you find them, take rubbish home and keep dogs under control.
“Following the Countryside Code and using common sense and courtesy is the least we can do as an unspoken ‘thank you’ to the custodians of our rural landscape.”