The Country Code and The Countryside Code are sets of rules for visitors to rural, and especially agricultural, regions of the United Kingdom. The Country Code dates back to the 1930s and the Countryside Code replaced it in 2004.
The Country Code evolved from the work of various organisations and had several different versions from the 1930s. The most widely accepted version of The Country Code was published in 1981 by the Countryside Commission:
In the 1960s and 70s the Country Code was publicised by several public information films shown in cinemas and on television.
In 2004 The Country Code was revised and relaunched as The Countryside Code (Côd Cefn Gwlad in Welsh) to reflect the introduction of new open access rights and changes in society over the preceding years. The revised Code was produced through a partnership between the Countryside Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales
In early July 2020, the Westminster government published an amended short version of the code on-line during the COVID-19 pandemic as lockdown was being eased across England to help manage public access to the countryside under the changed circumstances.
Main article: Scottish Outdoor Access Code
In Scotland, where there is a more general right of access, Scottish Natural Heritage developed The Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which was approved in draft form by the Scottish Parliament in July 2003 following the passing of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act of the same year, and was accepted in February 2005. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code differs significantly from The Country Code in that it promotes access rights that include crossing over land and non-motorised recreational activities like walking, cycling, angling and horse riding, and will normally apply in all rural settings. The basis of access rights over land (in Scotland) is of shared responsibilities, in that those exercising such rights have to act responsibly, following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, while land owners/managers have a reciprocal responsibility in respecting the interests of those who exercise their rights.
The Scottish code "is based on three key principles [which] apply equally to the public and to land managers":
Three additional principles apply to visitors:
Both the Countryside Code and the Scottish code provide guidance for land managers as well as visitors.