Lucas Tatek, from the Great Ouse Valley Trust, reminds us of our obligations to the countryside.

A solitary swan waddles out of the river and begins munching on the grass. A hundred yards away, unaware of the scene, a man lets his dog off the lead.

You can guess what happens next. The dog bolts towards the swan like a bullet. The man makes no attempt to call the dog back.

The swan starts its running take off, wings thrashing the air. The dog gets to within a metre of the swan before it takes to the air and safety - a close shave and one that could have been avoided.

The dog owner was obviously not familiar with the Countryside Code. It is there to guide us all on how to behave with consideration and respect for our countryside and its wildlife. Here is a summary.

• Plan ahead. Check the weather, take appropriate clothes and footwear, check parking availability.

• Use maps and stick to public footpaths and bridleways, and follow signs. Don’t stray off footpaths into fields of crops or livestock. Make sure to close all gates behind you.

• Keep dogs under control especially around farm animals. Farmers can shoot dogs that threaten their livestock. Bag dog poo and bin it, or take it home.

• Don’t feed livestock or wildlife and also keep your distance. Be extra careful during lambing or nesting season.

• If arriving by car, slow down on narrow lanes and be aware of walkers, horse riders and cyclists. Cyclists and cars should slow down, give way and give plenty of room. Cyclists and horse riders should be careful around walkers, but walkers should ensure they do not obstruct them, especially if they are in a large group.

• Fires destroy habitats, wildlife and farmers’ livelihoods. Don’t light fires or use disposable barbecues.

• As river users, we need to be considerate, respectful and aware of others. The most vulnerable and least-powered have greatest priority in this order: swimmers, paddleboards, canoes, unpowered boats, powered boats.

• Report any incidents or illegal activity to police, but not at the expense of your own safety. Notify RSPB or RSPCA about injured birds and other animals.

Finally, make it a great day out to remember, leaving only footprints behind and helping to protect our precious nature! Visit for more details.

Read more about the Great Ouse Valley Trust at: