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Staying safe in the ‘Great Outdoors’

What you need to know before exploring the North East’s countryside and coastlines.

From family days out at the beach, to hiking with friends, or enjoying a countryside dog walk, it’s great we can enjoy what the North East has to offer.

Read our simple explainer, from Margaret Anderson, Senior Ranger, Northumberland National Park, to find out more about how to enjoy the great outdoors safely and help the North East to #BeatCovidNE.

Please follow the below guidance even if you have been vaccinated, and have received both doses, as you could still spread Covid to others.

Do not travel if you:  

  • Have Covid symptoms. You should get a test and follow the stay at home guidance.
  • Have been told by the NHS Test and Trace service to self-isolate.
  • Are self-isolating as a result of Covid symptoms or are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms.

Why is it important to practice social distancing outdoors?

Northumberland National Park is often described as England’s last wilderness, as such it has lots of space but its popular sites can get busy and social distancing can be difficult due to narrow paths or busy gateways.

By staying away from crowded areas and avoiding gathering in large groups, we can all help to stop the virus spreading further. Tourism and hospitality businesses help to make a National Park experience exceptional. We want to see more businesses back up and running, so please keep social distancing and follow the guidelines to help keep the North East open.

Why is it important to plan picnics not a BBQ?

Enjoying a picnic surrounded by beautiful countryside is good for the soul, but please leave your barbecues at home. During the spring and summer months, when there can be long periods of sunshine and low rainfall, the ground is very dry and the risk of wildfires are high.

If a barbecue is placed directly onto grass, they burn deeply and can reignite long after you’ve gone home. During sunny periods, broken glass can also cause a fire to start. So it’s really important to remember to take your litter home and leave beautiful scenery as you found it – the wildlife, local communities, visitors and emergency services will thank you for it.

What is the advice for walking dogs in the countryside?

We understand many visitors have missed walking their dogs in the National Park whilst they stayed at home during lockdown. Dog walkers are welcome in the National Park, but we are appealing to everyone to be responsible and considerate when they visit.

Follow our simple guide when walking your dog in the countryside:

  • Keep your dog on a lead and stick to the paths – wildlife, including nesting birds, and farm animals need to protect their young.
  • Always bag and bin your dog poo – flicking it into the undergrowth or hanging it in a tree just moves the problem to a different place. Bag it and bin it.

How can you help preserve the North East’s beauty spots?

The experiences people have and the memories they make in the National Park, and the North East’s various beauty spots, can last a lifetime. The Park’s ‘Now & Forever’ campaign highlights those experiences and reminds us all that by caring for these unique and special surroundings today, future generations can continue to enjoy them for years to come. The National Park is for everyone to enjoy, which is why we ask everyone to do their bit and help us to look after it.

How can you respect local communities, heritage and wildlife?

This year, Natural England launched a new version of the Countryside Code, packed with advice to help more people enjoy the outdoors in a safe and respectful way. It includes everything from information on permissions to do certain outdoor activities such as wild swimming, to what to do around farm animals, and even advice for people to ‘be nice, say hello and share the space’.

Northumberland National Park was voted National Park of the Year in 2021 and we know it is a cherished landscape. More people than ever before are spending time with nature to support their health and wellbeing, let's show nature the respect it deserves. Brushing up on the Countryside Code before you visit will ensure the Park continues to be a unique and special place loved by all who visit.

How can you avoid the crowds?

It can be disappointing to plan a visit and find other people have got there first. If a car park is full, don’t park along the roadside, you might block access for local residents and emergency services.

Plan your visit and take a look at other places close by – Northumberland National Park has over 400 square miles to explore. Follow the National Park on social media and use the information and guidance on our website.

We will continue to update this information as the situation evolves. Together we can #BeatCovidNE

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