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Stay safe in the countryside

Published: 25 April 2022

We’re reminding people who are getting out and about in Derbyshire’s countryside this spring to take care in fields and areas of moorland where farm animals are grazing.


Local residents and visitors to the area need to be aware of their surroundings especially when a path enters a field, or they are crossing open access land.

Derby and Derbyshire Local Access Forum (DADLAF) – an organisation we set up with Derby City Council to advise on outdoor recreation, rights of way and access to the countryside – gives the following advice to keep people and livestock safe:

  • avoid getting between cows and their calves
  • be prepared for cattle to react to you, especially if you have a dog with you
  • move quickly and quietly around the herd
  • keep your dog close and under control on a lead around cows and sheep
  • if you are threatened by cattle let your dog go to allow it to run to safety - don’t panic or run - most cattle will stop before they reach you, if they follow walk on quietly
  • always check local signs as there are situations when you must keep your dog on a lead for all or part of the year, local areas may also ban dogs completely, except for assistance dogs
  • on open access land you must put your dog on a lead around livestock, and between 1 March and 31 July - you must also have your dog on a lead in these areas even if there is no livestock on the land to protect ground nesting birds
  • leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on any signs
  • always clean up your dog’s poo as it can cause life threatening illness in people, livestock and wildlife
  • don’t let your dog stray from the path or area where you have right of access
  • don’t feed livestock, horses or wild animals as this can cause harm
  • don’t leave bags of dog poo around even if you intend to pick them up later - if you cannot find a waste bin you should take it home with you

Our Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Environment, Councillor Carolyn Renwick, said:

“Derbyshire has some breathtaking countryside and many more residents and visitors have been discovering what it has to offer. We want everyone to enjoy themselves, but also to stay safe and follow the Countryside Code. It is, after all, a working environment that should be respected.

“Farm animals can potentially be dangerous, especially when rearing their young, but problems with them are thankfully very rare. Following the sensible precautions from DADLAF, such as giving the livestock plenty of space and keeping dogs under control, can help to minimise any risk.

"Most importantly we don't want anyone to put themselves or the livestock at risk. If necessary they should find another way around the animals and rejoin the path as soon as possible."

Derby and Derbyshire Local Access Forum is looking for people with an interest in the great outdoors to sign up as volunteers – particularly land managers and people with experience in forestry, farming, outdoor education, local communities, nature conservation, and business and tourism.

Anyone interested in joining the forum should contact Gill Millward tel: 01629 539656 or email gill.millward@derbyshire.gov.uk