9 ways the new Countryside Code asks you to enjoy nature this Easter

A footpath in the East Anglian countryside

The easing of lockdown measures is expected to bring a surge of visitors to East Anglia's countryside during the Easter weekend - Credit: Denise Bradley

Ramblers, dog-walkers and nature-lovers are expected to flock to our great outdoors this Easter as lockdown eases - so the Countryside Code has been updated to explain how to enjoy it responsibly.

Natural England launched a long-awaited update of the code this week to mark its 70th anniversary, ahead of the post-lockdown visitor boom expected across rural East Anglia this Easter.

Here are some of its key recommendations to help everyone enjoy open spaces safely, while looking after the natural environment and the livelihoods of people who work there.

• Be considerate to those living in, working in and enjoying the countryside: "Be nice, say hello, share the space"

• Leave gates and property as you find them

• Do not block access to gateways or driveways when parking

• Follow local signs and keep to marked paths unless wider access is available

• Take your litter home – leave no trace of your visit

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• Take care with barbecues and do not light fires

• Always keep dogs under control and in sight

• Bag and bin dog poo – any public waste bin will do

• "Enjoy your visit, have fun, make a memory"

Natural England said the coronavirus pandemic had "changed people’s relationships with nature" - bringing more visitors to the countryside, but also increasing problems ranging from littering to sheep-worrying by dogs.

In Norfolk, it said the Broads, Winterton Dunes, Holkham, and Dersingham Bog National Nature Reserves (NNRs) all reported incidents of recreational disturbance and lots of issues with dogs off leads in restricted nesting areas. There were also problems with increased levels of vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

And between April and June last year, a huge increase in visitors to Suffolk Coast’s NNR led to more than 150 recorded incidents, mainly trespassing and vandalism, which had "a negative impact on breeding birds".

The "refreshed" guidance in the Countryside Code was welcomed by countryside, business and conservation groups which helped to shape the code's relaunch.

Tom Platt, director of advocacy and engagement for the Ramblers said: "We want everyone to have the confidence to enjoy walking outdoors, to feel welcome in the countryside and to act as champions for the environment."