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With the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Jurassic Coast Heritage Site and the abundance of beautiful countryside that surrounds Bridport we encourage people to explore and experience this wonderful landscape.

But while exploring this inspiring area we do ask that you abide by the Countryside Code. Below is a guide by Natural England, with links and contact details should you need further information.



Leave no trace of your visit

  • Do not damage, destroy or remove features such as rocks, plants or trees. They are part of the ecosystem  and add to everyone’s enjoyment of the countryside
  • Leave no trace of your visit, take your litter home. It can be dangerous for the wildlife and farm animals. Dropping litter and dumping rubbish are criminal offences.
  • Fires can be devastating to wildlife and habitats so be careful with naked flames and cigarettes. Sometimes controlled fires are used to manage vegetation, particularly on heaths and moors between 1st October and 15th April, but if a fire appears to be unattended then report it to the police.
  • Farmers will normally close gates to keep farm animals in, but may sometimes leave them open so the animals can reach food and water. Leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs. When in a group, make sure that the last person knows how to leave the gates.
  • Follow footpaths unless wider access is available, such as open country or registered common land (known as ” Open Access Land”).
  • If you think a sign is illegal or misleading such as  a ‘Private – No entry’ sign on a public footpath, contact the local authority.
  • Leave machinery and farm animals alone – do not interfere with animals even if you think they’re in distress. Try to alert the farmer instead.
  • Use gates, stiles or gaps in field boundaries if you can – climbing over walls, hedges and fences can damage them and increase the risk of farm animals escaping.
  • Our heritage matters to all of us – be careful not to disturb ruins and historic sites.


When you take your dog outdoors, always ensure that it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control. This means that you:

  • Keep your dog on a lead, or
  • keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it’s doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command
  • ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you have the right of access
  • Special dog rules may apply  in particular situations, so always look out for local signs-for example:
    • Dogs may be banned from certain areas that people use, or there may be restrictions, bylaws or control orders limiting where they can go.
    • The access rights that normally apply to open country and registered common land (known as “open access” land) require dogs to be kept on a short lead between 1st March and 31st July, to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round near farm animals.
    • At the coast, there may be some local restrictions to require dogs to be kept on a short lead during the bird breeding season and to prevent disturbance to flocks of resting and feeding birds during other times of the year.
  • It’s always good practice (and a legal requirement on “open access” land) to keep your dog on a  lead around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and the welfare of the animals. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dogs owner.
  • However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the leaf – don’t risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you.
  • Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and it can cause infections, so always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly. Make sure your dog is wormed regularly to protect it, other animals and people.

Be prepared

  • You will get more from your visit if you refer to up-to-date maps or guidebooks and websites (like this one) before you go. For information on Bridport and the surrounding areas please use this website, visit our online shop for maps and guide books, or pop in to see us at the Bridport Tourist Information Centre.  For further afield visit .
  • You are responsible for your own safety and for others in your care – especially children – so be prepared for natural hazards, changes in the weather and other events. Wild animals, farm animals and horses can behave unpredictably if you get too close, especially of they are with their young – so give them plenty of space.
  • Check weather forecasts before you leave. conditions can change rapidly, especially in mountains and along the coast, so don’t be afraid to turn back.
  • When visiting the coast check Tide Times at , don’t risk getting cut off by rising tides and take care on slippery rocks and sea weed.
  • Part of the appeal of the countryside is that you can get away from it all. It is easy not to see anyone for hours, and many places do not have clear phone or internet signal, so let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.

Respect other people

  • Respect the needs of local people and visitors alike – for example, don’t block gateways, driveways or other paths with your vehicle.
  • When riding a bike or driving a vehicle, slow down or stop for horses, walkers and farm animals and give them plenty of room. By law cyclists must give way to walkers and horse-riders on bridleways.
  • Co-operate with people at work in the countryside. For example keep out of the way when farm animals are being gathered or moved and follow directions from the farmer.
  • Busy traffic on small country roads can be unpleasant and dangerous to local people, visitors and wildlife – so slow down and where possible, leave your vehicle at home, consider sharing lifts and use alternatives such as public transport or cycling.

Advice and signage

England has nearly 200,000 km of public rights of way, providing many opportunities to enjoy the natural environment. get to know the signs and symbols used in the countryside to shows paths and open countryside.


Open to walkers only, waymarked with a yellow arrow




Open to walkers, horse-riders and cyclists, waymarked with a blue arrow

Restricted bywayRestricted byway

open to walkers, cyclists, horse-riders and horse-drawn vehicles, waymarked with a plum coloured arrow

Byway open to all traffic


Byway open to all traffic (BOAT)

Open to walkers, cyclists, horse-riders, horse-drawn vehicles and motor vehicles, waymarked with a red arrow

National Trail acornNational Trails

Identifies 15 long distance routes in England and Wales and the England Coast Path. All are open for walking and some trails are also suitable for cyclists, horse-riders and people with limited mobility. Check the national trail website at for information including maps, trip planning tools and trail diversions

Open access


Open Access land

865,000 hectares of mountain, moorland, heath land, down land and registered common land, mapped under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 200, is available to people to walk, run, explore, climb and watch wildlife, without having to stay on paths. Similar rights are being extended in stages on coastal land in England. Check the open access web pages at for maps, information and any current restrictions in place

End of area-wide accessNegative access symbol

A ‘negative’ access symbol may be used to mark the end of area-wide access although other access rights may exist, for example, public rights of way



Know your rights, responsibilities and liabilities

  • The Ordnance Survey’s 1:25,000 maps show public rights of way and access land. These maps are not ‘definitive’. If in doubt you can check the legal status of rights of way with your local authority. You can find out which areas of Open Access land are mapped under the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000 on the Open Access web pages at .
  • For guidance on your rights, responsibilities and liabilities, contact your local authority or National Park authority. The Country Land and Business association, and the National Farmers Union can also offer advice.
  • By law you must keep rights of way clear and not obstruct people’s entry onto access land – it’s a criminal offence to discourage rights of public access with misleading signs.
  • Trespassing is often unintentional – for advice on tackling trespass contact your local authority.

Make it easy for visitors to act responsibly

  • Keeping paths clear and waymarks and signs in good order and up to date will help people stick to the right routes and access points. Contact your local authority to find out what help is available.
  • Where this is public access through a boundary feature, such as a fence or hedge, create a gap if you can – or use an accessible gate or, if absolutely necessary a stile. When installing completely new gates and stiles make sure you have the permission of the local authority.
  • Encourage people to respect your wishes by giving clear, polite guidance where needed. for example, telling visitors about your land management work helps them to avoid getting in your way.
  • Rubbish attracts other rubbish – by getting rid of items such as farm waste properly, you’ll discourage the illegal  dumping of rubbish and encourage others to get rid of their rubbish responsibly.

Identify possible threats to visitors’ safety

  • Consider possible man-made and natural hazards on your land and draw any ‘hidden’ risks to the public’s attention.
  • Try to avoid using electric fencing or barbed wire where people may accidentally touch it, particularly alongside narrow paths and bridleways.
  • If electric fencing is used, ensure warning signs are visible.
  • Use and store any chemicals or poisonous substances responsibly on your land. They may kill wildlife or cause harm to people or pets. Any pest control you undertake must be planned with this in mind.
  • Animals likely to attack visitors should not be allowed to roam freely where the public has access – you may be liable for any resulting harm.
  • Your duty of care under the Occupiers’ Liability Acts of 1957 & 1984 depends on the type of access right people have – so it’s important to know what rights, if any, apply to your land. By voluntarily dedicating the land for permanent public access you may be able to reduce this liability.

For more information visit


Click here for more information on responsible tourism.

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