I spend a lot of my time here on Splodz Blogz and over on my social media channels trying to encourage people to spend a little bit more time outdoors. Our bodies and minds need the outdoors – we need the fresh air, the natural light, time away from screens, the opportunity to breathe and think. I’m a very proud Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion and, as part of that, I am able to spread the outdoors message far and wide. And, especially recently, I have been very happy to learn that lots of people are indeed taking my One Hour Outside advice and are making more time for the outdoors, discovering more about their local area, and having fun trying new activities. Fabulous!
Hiking in the Shropshire hills.
With all this campaigning to get people outside more comes huge responsibility. Two really quite big things spring to mind – enjoying the outdoors safely, and making sure our enjoyment of the outdoors doesn’t have a detrimental effect on the environment. I am not a hugely adventurous outdoors women, or one that is involved in massive endurance challenges that take me deep into the wilderness, preferring to spend my time enjoying the outdoors in ways that are generally accessible by all. But even so, it is important that I address these to big issues plainly.
I have spoken about keeping safe in the hills and more in general here before, featuring advice from Mountain Rescue, and talking about being prepared with the right gear when heading out hiking, understanding the importance of being able to read a map, anal other things, too. Today, though, I want to touch on this idea of “leave no trace”, the importance of being respectful to flora and fauna, and doing our part to make sure our natural environment is here for years and years to come.
Leave No Trace
It may seem that leave no trace is more for those heading out on a wild camp or on a marathon hike, but it is a message we should all heed regardless of the amount of time or the type of activity we are enjoying. So even when we are spending One Hour Outside in our local park or having a picnic on a beach.
In simple terms, leave no trace is about taking your litter home (and that includes your banana and orange peel – if it doesn’t grow their naturally then it shouldn’t be left there), being sensible where you pee (not close to animals or water sources), and not lighting fires where they may damage the ground and leave a mark (and actually, right now, just don’t light a fire at all).
It is also about putting things back where you found them if you move rocks or the like to help you make camp, closing gates to make sure that cattle and sheep don’t escape, and not partaking in the very annoying and surprisingly destructive trend of building cairns that confuse people when they’re navigating (you know that cairns are marked on maps for a reason…).
Sticking to the paths when you’re walking through farmland and across the moors is also super important; our world suffers enough from erosion thanks to the weather without us adding to it with our feet. It’s not difficult, it’s very much common sense, but it’s so important. And while I’m stating the obvious, let’s also make certain that we don’t interfere with nests, burrows and dens, pick flowers, break off tree branches for firewood, and the like.
Discarded helium balloon in the Shropshire hills (yes we picked it up).
In the olden days, when I was at school, I remember being taught the countryside code. If we all choose to follow it each and every time we head outdoors, then we will certainly be doing something right. In case you need a reminder…
The Countryside Code
Respect other people:
- Consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors.
- Leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths unless wider access is available.
Protect the natural environment:
- Leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home.
- Keep dogs under effective control.
Enjoy the outdoors:
- Plan ahead and be prepared.
- Follow advice and local signs.
There’s a whole heap more words explaining each of the above over here.
Hiking in the Stiperstones, Shropshire.
I very much want every single person who reads my blog or follows me on social media to go outside and spend time enjoying nature, the countryside, or their local urban areas, as much as possible. One Hour Outside every single day is hugely beneficial to us for so many reasons. But please, I ask you, do it safely, and please leave no trace.
If you have any tips to help people leave no trace when they are enjoying all kinds of activities outdoors, please comment with them below.