Opinion: Enjoying the countryside this Easter

Opinion column - from NFU East Sussex Chair Martin Hole.
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There’s nowhere quite like the great British countryside with its rolling hills and luscious green fields.

Over the years, thousands of people have become more appreciative of our amazing farmed landscapes and visitor numbers are up with walkers, runners and cyclists all determined to make the most of what is on their doorstep - exploring, connecting with nature and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.

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With spring in the air there are fields full of lambs and with the Easter holidays upon us, many will again be thinking of a gentle ramble to experience some of our fantastic rural areas in Sussex. Those who we meet always ask lots of questions about what’s happening in the fields or what kind of food we’re producing, it’s a great opportunity for us to explain the valuable role we play in feeding the nation, creating our iconic landscapes and caring for nature.

A responsible dog walker near cows in South Downs National Park in East Sussex.A responsible dog walker near cows in South Downs National Park in East Sussex.
A responsible dog walker near cows in South Downs National Park in East Sussex.

One thing to stress to anyone is that the countryside is a busy working environment – our farms are places of work and we want those who come along to do so responsibly and stay safe.

Visitors are able to use more than 225,000km of public rights of way across England and Wales, which is the equivalent distance of 15 trips around the world to Australia.

For those using public footpaths that run through farms it is really important to keep to them so as not to damage crops and to protect wildlife.

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Other tips to follow from the Countryside Code include keeping dogs under control on a short lead if you encounter farm animals.

NFU East Sussex Chair Martin Hole.NFU East Sussex Chair Martin Hole.
NFU East Sussex Chair Martin Hole.

This will help keep sheep and lambs safe from your dog, and you and your dog safe around cattle.

And everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess and it can be very harmful to farm animals.

Please bag it, take it, and bin it and help keep lambs and other animals on our farms healthy.

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Sussex farmers are extremely proud to have played a small part in shaping and caring for our cherished farmed landscapes, which have benefitted the nation for generations. Please enjoy your visit to the countryside this Easter - have fun and make memories – and remember to do so safely and responsibly.

For more please go to www.countrysideonline.co.uk online.