WITH more people visiting the countryside, the CLA has reiterated the importance of following the Countryside Code.

This comes after reports of blocked country lanes and trampled crops.

CLA President Mark Bridgeman said: “The countryside is a welcoming place which has invaluable benefits for people’s mental and physical wellbeing, especially during the current pandemic.

“There are already over 140,000 miles of public rights of way and 2.5 million acres of open access land in England and Wales for people to enjoy - and we want everyone to be able to make the most of these while staying safe. The danger in trying to recover ‘lost paths’ is not only the significant impact on already strained local authorities in terms of resources, but on our already-threatened wildlife and fragile ecosystems which need protecting.”

CLA Director North Dorothy Fairburn said: “It is totally unacceptable that farmers should suffer abuse by walkers trespassing on their fields. This is a real kick in the teeth to those working very hard to put food on our tables.”

“First and foremost, people should maintain social distancing and not veer off sign-posted footpaths. The daily exercise regime should not be seen as a ‘free for all’ abuse of the countryside. Those using the countryside should, especially under current circumstances, be conscious that the countryside is also a place of work where the land, livestock, machinery, wildlife and environment must be respected."