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Getting outside safely during COVID-19

Latest UK Government Advice

KEEP EVERYONE SAFE AS RESTRICTIONS EASE.

Last updated on: 29/03/2021 at 9:37AM


We want to help keep you and your communities safe and active outside.

This resource brings together current advice from government, local authorities and other outdoor organisations, to help you decide where to go and what to do. Different restrictions and roadmaps are outlined for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But the outdoors is still open, and we’re all being encouraged to get outside and stay local for our physical and mental health.

Search by activity and location for how you can get outside safely.*

Here's what you can do for Walking in All England

Current Government Advice for Walking

The outdoors, particularly parks, paths, woodlands, rivers, lakes, canals, the coast and beaches, can provide great places to improve your physical health and your mental wellbeing. The airborne risk of COVID-19 transmission is much lower outdoors than inside, particularly if you maintain 2m distancing and regularly wash your hands.

Public parks and paths do not need to be booked in advance but many sites, particularly those with car parks, have booking systems in place so you should check before you travel. You should check if facilities, such as toilets, are open to visitors. Make a plan for where to go if the place you intended to go is too busy, or the car park is full.

You must not go out if you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms, are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms, are sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms, or have been told to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

The government has set out steps in the easing of restrictions, please note that the dates set out below may change.

From the 29th March you can meet up in groups of 6 people outdoors, or two households. You may travel, but travel should be minimised, and you may not stay overnight. Adults and children may also participate in organised outdoor sport, in larger groups or teams but only where this is run in line with guidance issued by the relevant National Governing Body.

From the 12th April you may stay overnight away from home, but only with people in your household in self-contained accommodation. Outdoor hospitality may open

From the 17th May up to 30 people may meet outdoors and 6 people or two households may meet indoors and stay in accommodation.

From the 21st June there are no limits to the number of people or households who can meet outdoors or indoors.

Stay safe

  • Keep at least two metres apart from anyone outside your household (except your support bubble) or at least 1 metre with a face covering
  • Wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
  • Take hand sanitiser with you when you set off in case there are no handwashing facilities
  • Only do activities you know you can do safely and have done safely before
  • Wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors.
  • Take the time to read signage. Respect the measures that local authorities and site management have put in place to help ensure social distancing

When visiting the countryside remember to follow the countryside code and act responsibly at all times.

Respect everyone

  • be considerate to those living in, working in and enjoying the countryside
  • leave gates and property as you find them
  • do not block access to gateways or driveways when parking
  • be nice, say hello, share the space
  • follow local signs and keep to marked paths unless wider access is available

Protect the environment

  • take your litter home – leave no trace of your visit
  • take care with BBQs and do not light fires
  • always keep dogs under control and in sight
  • dog poo – bag it and bin it – any public waste bin will do
  • care for nature – do not cause damage or disturbance

Enjoy the outdoors

  • check your route and local conditions
  • plan your adventure – know what to expect and what you can do
  • enjoy your visit, have fun, make a memory

Last updated on 26/03/2021 17:16

Walkers are Welcome

All organised walks are currently suspended due to lockdowns in Scotland, England and Wales. Please follow national guidelines for walking locally.

Last updated on 08/01/2021 10:09

Forestry England

The government has instructed that you should minimise time spent outside your home, minimise the number of journeys you make and only travel a short distance within your local area to exercise. The nation’s forests, car parks and essential facilities are open for people to exercise once-per-day, if they live locally. Please follow the government’s rules on exercising and meeting other people when considering a visit. You must stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms or are self-isolating.

If you visit the nation’s forests, we hope you will enjoy the space and fresh air with a safe, relaxing visit. Please remember that it is your responsibility to follow the guidance on staying safe outside your home. For more information on what to expect when visiting and what Forestry England is doing to keep you safe, visit: https://www.forestryengland.uk/coronavirus-visitor-information

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - information for everyone visiting a forest

Thank you for your patience and support as we have safely re-opened as many car parks and other facilities in the nation’s forests as smoothly and swiftly as we can (for the complete list please of car parks that remain closed please see https://www.forestryengland.uk/carpark-closures) Thank you, too, for a steady and sensible return to the forests.

We know that you want to visit your favourite forest more often; we do too, but keeping you, our staff and other visitors safe is still the top priority. Below we explain what we are doing to help you and what you can do to help us make this work. Please continue to respect us as we take difficult decisions to balance Government guidance, local communities’ perspectives, and the needs of our visitors.

What we are doing to keep you safe
The majority of our car parks and other limited facilities are open, but please check to see which car parks are still closed before travelling. Some of the things we are doing in the forests include:

  • Cleaning touchpoints and toilets as often as we can following our new cleaning regimes.
  • Putting social distancing advice and guidance in place.
  • Checking paths are accessible.
  • Dismantling illegal mountain bike trails and clearing fly tipping.
  • Looking out for any wildlife that may have taken the chance, while it has been quiet, to build a home in an unusual place.
  • Due to Government guidance on play areas, at this time we cannot reopen our play equipment and play areas. Please also note that many of our sites have limited facilities and things such as toilets and cafes may not be open. We are supporting our fantastic business partners to re-open their services, in line with Government safety advice.

What you can do to help
When you visit the nation’s forests, we hope you will enjoy the space and fresh air with a safe, relaxing visit. Please remember that it is your responsibility to follow the guidance on staying safe outside your home.

Before you visit
Please think carefully about visiting and come prepared:

  • Limited facilities. Toilets and food outlets may not be open or reduced and there could be fewer pay machines which could mean a que to pay. Consider bringing your own hand sanitiser, food and refreshments.
  • Respect the forest. Put your litter in a bin, you might have to take it home to do so.
  • No BBQs or fires. For the time being, BBQs are not allowed in any of our forests. The ground is very dry at the moment and they pose a fire risk. We have suffered a devastating fire at Wareham Forest in Dorset. Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had found the remains of 11 disposable barbecues in the area. Forest fires are a threat to people and wildlife and they also put a huge strain on our emergency services.
  • Get to know the forest. See what walking and cycling trails there are on our website and make sure you have suitable footwear and if you plan to cycle, an appropriate helmet. Some forests may have new, temporary signs to follow or different opening hours.
  • Check how you may need to pay before you visit. It might be by phone, cashless or with cash. The best option could be to become a member. You’ll be supporting the forest and have unlimited parking.
  • It might be busy. Plan for what you will do if the site is temporarily closed because it is full or looks too busy for you. Be prepared to go somewhere else less busy, or return home and visit another time.
  • Only use our car parks. Keep roads clear and do not park on verges. Please respect our local communities and emergency services and park responsibly.
  • Be kind. Be patient. This is a new experience for all of us. We need your help to make this work.
Thank you for your support as we are doing our best for you


For frequently asked questions please see: https://www.forestryengland.uk/coronavirus-visitor-information

Last updated on 12/01/2021 13:57

The Ramblers

We want everyone to able to access and experience the pleasures of walking. Our local groups deliver some fantastic group walks as well as get involved in protecting the path network. In these lockdown times, walking is more important than ever.

To make sure we can all enjoy it safely, it’s important to keep up to date with current coronavirus restrictions.

We continue to work alongside partners such as Sport England to ensure our activities are both Covid secure and enjoyable for all. Whether alone or with a friend or family, walking is the perfect way to reconnect with nature. For our latest guidance and advice on walking and coronavirus please go to our website.

Last updated on 12/01/2021 16:37

Ordnance Survey

Getting outside currently requires a different set of rules and some thoughtful planning, and it is it is important to remember that guidelines or regulations may vary depending on which part of the UK you are in.

We want you to get the most out of your time outside and do it carefully so we urge you to plan carefully and act responsibly.

Our top tips to enjoy the outdoors safely during this time:

Plan Ahead: check weather, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, water and food. Park and walk responsibly.

Expect Closures: things aren’t ‘normal’ right now, so consider lack of facilities before leaving home, such as toilets, shops & cafes

Stay Home or Local: feeling unwell? Stay home! Feeling well? then head for local trails, hidden gems, and if you can explore closer to home.
Popular tourist areas are busy right now so try looking for some alternatives using the greenspace layer on OS Maps

Be Considerate: Maintain social distancing throughout the day – at least 2 metres apart. There is plenty of space in the outdoors for everyone!

Time and Place: Find those hidden gems, avoid peak times, avoid difficult routes. And know your limits.

Leave No Trace: Don’t rely on or add to already overburdened services. Bring your own rubbish home.

Be Dog Responsible: Keep dogs under control. Mind out for young wildlife. Pick up and bring home dog waste.

Toilet facilities: This handy Lockdown Loos resource has been crowd sourced to keep track of toilets that are open/closed in the areas you plan to visit.

To find alternative walking / cycling / running routes in your area please use our online resource OS Maps.

Last updated on 12/01/2021 16:42

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*Here at OS we want you everyone to enjoy getting back outside whilst staying safe and making the right choices for ourselves, others and the environment. We are therefore collating information sourced from government, local authorities and other third parties in one place to help you do just that. We ask that you read the Disclaimer, which applies to the information. Stay safe and enjoy the outdoors!

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