Over the past 18 months, we have seen a surge in visitors to the countryside as people have chosen to holiday in the UK instead of travelling abroad. Members have told us that many of these visitors are new-users of the countryside and are less familiar with the Countryside Code. In some instances, this has led to frustration and conflict as visitors have stayed from footpaths, allowed dogs to run loose, left litter, lit fires and abandoned whole camps when they depart.
The CLA has been working closely with Natural England in the development of a refreshed Countryside Code and called for more resources to be allocated to the promotion of the Code. In tandem, the CLA made an approach to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson for the Countryside Code to be added to the school curriculum.
Gavin Williamson responded to say that he understood our call but he felt that there was already scope within the curriculum for teachers to include the Code.
In response, the CLA put plans in motion to develop a lesson plan for teachers to make it easier for them to weave the Code into their lessons. We partnered with LEAF Education to dovetail the Code into curriculum objectives in geography and citizenship for key stage two pupils (older primary school children). The objective of the resource is for positive messaging about how to enjoy the countryside responsibly.
The CLA Lesson Plan for the Countryside Code is now complete and available to download from the CLA website and on LEAF’s Countryside Classroom site. The plan follows the three main themes of the Countryside Code; Protect, Respect and Enjoy. This is a single document, and accompanying PowerPoint presentation, which is packed with fun-filled activities for young children of all abilities to immerse themselves in. Children will learn about waymarkers, how to use gates, why it’s important for their parents to park responsibility and where to camp.
The plan has been developed for delivery in the classroom and in the local neighbourhood with an option for a field trip to consolidate learning. It includes short video clips of interviews with CLA members alongside clips produced by Natural England and United Utilities. Students are encouraged to apply the principles of the Code to their own neighbourhood to enable them to explore and compare how visitor activities can impact others.
We’re asking any members, who work closely with education settings, including youth groups and national parks, to help us promote the resource across their own networks. We also ask members to ensure that their waymarkers are in good order and to contact us directly if they need help sourcing replacements. We’ve also produced some temporary signs for members to download if they feel they need some additional instructions for visitors using access routes across their land. To receive a sign, please contact your regional CLA office.