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Countryside Etiquette:  Essential Guide To Scottish Outdoor Access Code, Land Reform Act and more

Countryside Etiquette: Essential Guide To Scottish Outdoor Access Code, Land Reform Act and more


Quick Guide

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code
Places Where Your Rights Don’t Apply
Activities Where Your Rights Don’t Apply
Hunting, Shooting and Fishing Etiquette
Country Walking Etiquette
Horse Riding Etiquette
Dog Walking Etiquette
Final Thoughts


Countryside Etiquette: The Essential Guide

With windswept coastlines, majestic mountains and sweeping glens as far as the eye can see, Scotland’s beauty is truly vast and endless. By embracing its inviting landscape and accepting nature’s invitation to explore, Scotland has enjoyed almost unspoilt land access throughout its history.

Unlike the somewhat restrictive laws which govern rights of way south of the border, everyone in Scotland has the right to enjoy almost all land and inland waters. Though we firmly believe that our access rights are a gift which should be enjoyed, there are a number of responsibilities we must keep in mind.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 sets out the rights of walkers, horse riders, cyclists and canoeists. These rights have been made easier to follow in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, but at 135 pages it isn’t exactly a light read! To help you explore responsibly, we’ve perused the facts and pulled out the key points for you.


Explore the right way with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code


The Scottish Outdoor Access Code

The main responsibilities outlined in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code are:

    • Respect the interests of other people

Be considerate and respect the privacy, livelihoods and needs of those enjoying the outdoors.

    • Care for the environment

Enjoy the places you visit and look after them by caring for wildlife and historic sites.

    • Take responsibility for your own actions

Whilst land managers should take due care to ensure your safety, the outdoors cannot be made risk-free.

A Hume Laksen Scottish Outdoors

Farmland is exempt from the Scottish Outdoor Access Code


Places Where Your Access Rights Don’t Apply:

Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 you do not have a legal right to access:

  • Houses or gardens
  • Farm buildings
  • Land where crops are grown
  • Land used by schools or for recreation
  • Golf courses or visitor attractions


Activities Where Your Access Rights Don’t Apply:

Your legal access rights also do not extend to the pursuit of:

  • Motorised recreation
  • Hunting, shooting and fishing
  • Any activity which could be deemed as an offence


Hunting, Shooting and Fishing Etiquette

Featuring Turnerkamp Loden Breeks with CTX by Laksen

What are my rights?

Leisure pursuits such as hunting, shooting and fishing are all excluded from your access rights. To undertake any of these activities you must have explicit permission from the landowner. If you are stalking deer or fishing for salmon or sea trout, you must have landowner’s permission in writing.

The law makes no distinction between air rifles and more powerful guns for which you need a licence – they are all classed as firearms. This means that any offence you commit can carry a very heavy penalty – and there are at least 38 different offences. If you are 18 years or older there are no restrictions on buying an air rifle and ammunition, and you can use it wherever you have permission to shoot.


What do I need?

To ensure that you carry out leisure pursuits such as hunting, shooting and fishing safely, you must have the appropriate licenses and equipment. The Ainsley Wingfield Shooting Coat with CTX by outdoor outfitter Laksen boasts both form and function, keeping you warm and dry with its innovative CTX membrane, whilst staying true to tradition with its tweed outer layer. Stay protected from top to toe with Laksen’s Turnerkamp Loden Breeks with CTX, crafted using the highest quality natural fibres.


Country Walking Etiquette

Schoffel Countrywear – Perfect for the outdoors

What are my rights?

In Scotland you have the right to walk on most land, provided it is not part of the exclusion list above. To keep you right, ScotWays has been publishing a guide of all our nation’s rights of way for over 60 years. ‘Scottish Hill Tracks,’ is a catalogue of Scotland’s major rural routes.

Quirkier walking laws include the right to ‘pass and repass along the way’ (that’s stopping, resting and enjoying the view without causing an obstruction to you and me), or taking a ‘natural accompaniment,’ such as a pram or wheelchair on your walk. What else is deemed a ‘natural accompaniment?’ We’ll leave that up to you.


What do I need?

The Scottish elements and rugged terrain can make for challenging country walks. Being responsibly kitted out will allow you to explore safely. Laksen’s Tripod Seat offers a convenient way to take a much needed rest on longer journeys. A Thermal Bottle filled with your favourite hot drink will also make a welcome addition to your walk. Taking a hot drink with you is sensible during colder months, when winds from the North really start to bite.


Horse Riding Etiquette

Featuring the Lady Dalness Jacket with CTX by Laksen

What are my rights?

Horse Sense has produced informative leaflet detailing the need-to-know information on equestrian access in Scotland. Key things to remember are:

  • Give way to walkers on narrow routes where possible, or look for an alternative path.
  • Take care to avoid wet, boggy or soft ground.
  • Try to avoid churning up land surfaces.
  • Be careful to not alarm farm animals or wildlife, especially around fields.
  • Do not enter fields with other horses or animals.

Remember: You must get permission to carry out repetitive schooling on other people’s land. You also need explicit consent to use jumps or custom gallops when not already in use.


What do I need?

Being appropriately dressed is vital to ensure safety on treks. Head protection should always be worn, as should high visibility clothing when necessary. Stay safe by avoiding loose clothing and keeping warm and dry in the colder months. A jacket like the Lady Dalness Jacket with CTX is specially designed to protect you from the elements. For treks that may involve kicked up mud, a machine washable jacket is a practical choice.


Dog Walking Etiquette

Featuring the Glenbrook collar by Dubarry

What are my rights?
You are free to take your dog on footpaths provided he is kept under close control. There is no requirement for footpaths to be suitable for dogs, so ensure that your dog can cope with rough terrain. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code has produced a brief leaflet covering the fundamentals of walking your dog. The key points include:

  • Keep your dog away from farm animals, especially younger animals that can become startled easily.
  • Keep your dog on a short lead in recreation areas, public places and fields of farm animals.
  • Do not take your dog through fields of crops unless there is a clear path, which you should stick to.
  • Ensure your dog doesn’t disturb ground nesting birds by keeping your dog on a short lead.
  • Always bag and bin dog waste.

Remember: Under the Animals (Scotland) Act 1987, a farmer has the right to shoot your dog if it is endangering farm animals, in some cases. Keep your dog away from farm animals to protect you, your dog and the farm animals.


What do I need?

Scotland’s changeable weather can take its toll on your dog. Keep him warm with Barbour’s Quilted Dog Coat. 70g of insulating wadding will be certain to keep out the cold, whilst Barbour’s traditional tartan lining and smart corduroy collar will make him the smartest dog in town or country. Pair the coat with Dubarry’s Glenbrook collar, perfect to attach tags, bells, lights or reflectors for identification.


Final Thoughts

By properly following countryside etiquette you will ensure that you and others are able to fully enjoy the Scottish landscape now and for years to come. You can help to keep the land accessible, safeguard animals and the environment, and protect the livelihoods of those who rely on the land. With the correct knowledge, equipment, attire, and mindset you can explore Scotland the right way – and keep out of trouble!