Dales Code


Courtesy of Leni Hatcher and the National Trust's Outdoor Nation Project


Welcome to our tiny villages. We do not have much space and the roads are narrow, with few pavements, so please be considerate when parking and driving through.

The Dales Rule of thumb “think twice, think differently” about...

  • Parking
  • The Rural Economy
  • Litter
  • Road Safety

Please take a moment to consider:

Parking – this is where you can help us most.

  • The Village Greens - the honesty boxes help us keep the greens green.
  • Market days – please remember Friday in Reeth – it would help if you could move your cars on Thursday night.
  • Large vehicles – agricultural vehicles and oil tankers still have to get up and down the Dale so please keep this in mind.
  • If in doubt ask someone where it is best to park – “we like to help”.

Support the rural economy – buy from local shops (Reeth and Muker) and markets.


  • Please use the bins – even better – take it home with you.
  • Dog Fouling – as for a city please clean up after your dog.

Road Safety – many roads are narrow with blind bends and front doors opening right onto the road.

  • If it says 20mph it is probably because there have been many bumps there.
  • Fish and Chip Van day (Friday) – be aware there will be queues in the road for this very popular attraction.

Swaledale’s not a running around type of dale, people have time.

In general local people like to chat and are willing to give advice so don’t be afraid to ask.


The Countryside Code has been simplified:

  • Be safe – plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Protect plants and animals and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people

But did you also know?.......................................

Rights of Way – there is no open access (right to roam) on fenced off farmland. Look for the signpost and follow the legal rights of way – footpaths and bridleways (for bikes and horses). These are green dashed lines on OS maps.

Gates – the code says leave them as you find them. That is open or closed. If they are pedestrian gates, then they clearly should be closed. If a stock (large) gate is blowing in the wind, do the good deed and pin it back or close it.

Stiles – use them and take care not to dislodge any stones. The small gates are to keep the very agile and ingenious Swaledale sheep in.

Stock Movement – if you see sheep being rounded up then please stay still (it’s a magnificent sight) or take a wide berth to avoid making it a harder task.

Cattle – each year people are killed in Britain by these large animals. The risk is greater if you are with a dog. If charged by cattle, let the dog go and save yourself.

Worrying – dogs should be kept under control (& that doesn’t mean on a lead if they are well trained) – sheep get stressed easily and even if your dog does not attack it can still cause miscarriage, separation of lambs, laming and other injury.

Dog Faeces - be aware dogs and sheep don’t mix. Farmers are worried that dogs may transfer tapeworms to sheep which causes internal cysts. Hydatid disease is caused by infection of humans with the larval stage of the dog tape worm. It is maintained via a herbivore (mainly sheep) to dog cycle in which, occasionally, humans (rather than grazing animals) are infected by tapeworm eggs excreted in the faeces of infected dogs. This is particularly relevant near Reeth where there is a high volume of dog walking. As a result land has had to be fenced off to protect the sheep. Please clean up after your dog.

Diseases - Foot and Mouth disease - respect bio-security measures that farmers have put in place ,such as using foot dips where provided and ensuring that no food is discarded where livestock can gain access, this latter being a major disease risk .

Please take a real interest in our rural industry – it feeds you.


Narrow, windy, steep, fords, single track in places, narrow bridges, dry stone walls, few pavements, hazards you hadn't expected...

  • People Hazards – there will be someone round the next bend
  • Natural Hazards – conditions can be very different in the Dales
  • Dales Driving – think differently


Some things you may not have considered...

People Hazards

  • Few pavements, so be aware of walkers.
  • The rule is to walk on the safest side, not just the right. That is the one with the larger verge or with the most visibility. 
  • Fish and Chip Van day (Friday) – be aware there will be queues in the road for this very popular attraction

Natural Hazards

  • Dry Stone Walls – are what make the Dales the Dales. Heavy vehicles that go close to a wall cause the most damage, even if not immediate. The grass banks (verges) are in fact the foundations that keep them upright. It costs more than £100/metre to repair.
  • Snow - some routes will be closed in wintry conditions - ask a local before you set off to Tan Hill, Kirby Stephen, Buttertubs Pass,  Bolton Abbey or Askrigg. 
  • Rivers - the roads flood from time to time so look out for signs and be aware.

Dales Driving

  • Passing Places - sometimes marked with a white diamond but the majority are not - please don't park in them.
  • At Work - think about giving way to those who are not on holiday – locals, tractors, farmers on quad bikes, gamekeepers, delivery vans, buses, the doctor, the vicar, sheep and cattle.
  • Up hill - it is old fashioned good etiquette to give way to vehicles coming up steep hills - hill starts can be tricky out here.
  • Hay Time - time is of the essence for these people in June and July - they literally have to make hay whilst the sun shines and they will be hard at work long after you have gone to bed - let them past, please.
  • Gates - some roads are gated so be aware and leave them as you find them, please.
  • Motorbikes - the dales routes are popular in the sunny months - every year one cuts a blind bend, hits a pot hole or a rock dislodged from a dry stone wall, or doesn't expect walkers around the bend.
  • Satnav - it doesn't know everything out here - ask a local for the best route for your vehicle.
  • Fords - for bikes - the fords out here are very slippery, especially if they are cobbled.


The Moorland Visitor’s Code states

  • Be safe – plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Keep dogs under control
  • Prevent uncontrolled moorland fires
  • Protect plants and animals and take your litter home
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Consider other people


Some key dates...

  • Grouse Shooting season 12th August to 10th December
  • Pheasant Shooting season 1st October to 1st February
  • Partridge Shooting season 1st September to 1st Feb
  • On most areas of open country and common land, known as 'access land', you must keep your dog on a short lead between 1st March and 31st July, and all year round near farm animals
  • Light controlled burning takes place between 1st October to 15th April to provide food for sheep and red grouse.

But did you also know?...

  • The Moorland is the home of many ground nesting birds.
  • At certain times, dogs may not be allowed on some areas of access land or may need to be kept on a lead. Please follow any signs.
  • You can find out about access by phoning the Open Access Contact Centre on 0845 100 3298.
  • Open access land is clearly marked on OS Map – Explorer Series (1:25000 scale) as a yellow ‘wash’ area. You will notice that, by and large, this excludes all farmland areas with field boundaries.
  • This is the open access sign
  • You do not have to put your dog on a lead on public rights of way, as long as it is under close control.
  • Grouse Shooting season is 12th August to 10th December.