Visiting with a dog

Take the Lead in the Peak District is a campaign celebrating responsible dog walking in the countryside. During lambing and bird nesting season from 1 March to 31 July, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the reasons why dog owners are asked to put their dogs on a lead or keep them under effective control during this sensitive period.

Dog walkers are exceptionally important guardians of our countryside, routinely walking busy paths as well as exploring lesser known areas from dawn to dusk, in all weathers, throughout the year. They are the eyes and ears of the landscape, noticing seasonal change, recognising unusual wildlife sightings as well as witnessing undesirable behaviour and identifying problems with paths, gates and tracks. Dog walkers are also wildlife enthusiasts, climbers, archaeologists, cyclists, horse riders, orienteers, biologists, geologists, ecologists! They come from all walks of life with two common interests, they love their dogs and they love the outdoors!

It is in fact the law...

Take the Lead celebrates this infectious love of dog walking whilst raising awareness of how responsible dog walking leads to a countryside richer in wildlife and helps keep sheep, lambs and ground nesting birds safe from harm.  From 1 March to 31 July it is the law under the Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000, to keep your dog on a lead of no more than 2 metres on open access land, and at all times around livestock. On public rights of way it is the law to keep your dog under effective control at all times. Effective controls means near to you and that you have complete confidence that your dog will return immediately and directly to you when called.

Keep sheep safe from harm...

During the lambing season sheep are at their most vulnerable, however all year round sheep are chased and injured if not killed by dogs, and often it is by dogs that people truly believe wont chase sheep. This is why it is so important to keep your dog on a lead at all times when near livestock.

Protect eggs and young chicks in nests on the ground...

In the Peak District there are a multitude of ground nesting birds including curlew, snipe, woodcock, meadow pipits, skylark and stonechat. Their nests, sometimes little more than a scrape, is generally an effective technique for laying their eggs. However it can leave their eggs and chicks open to predation from wildlife such as foxes, carrion and badgers.  A dog running across the landscape is just one disturbance too many for these bird species and can have a significant detrimental effect on breeding success. Many people are unaware that birds nest on the ground, and it doesn’t help that their nests are cleverly camouflaged. Take the Lead aims to raise awareness that nests are present and highly sensitive to disturbance by dogs.  

The thing about cattle...

Cattle are included in the term livestock and qualify for the same respect when walking your dog, by keeping your distance and your dog on a lead. However, cattle can feel threatened by dogs. If you think you may be chased, let go of the lead.

Adders on the moors...

The Eastern Moors is a stronghold for adders, a protected species and Britain's only venomous snake. Often misunderstood, adders are placid, non-agressive creatures that will usually only strike when they feel threatened and trapped.  Adders come out of hibernation in February until November, and at that time have low energy levels. Therefore if they feel threatened by for example, an inquisitive dog, they are less likely to move away and more likely to rise and hiss and if the threat continues, strike. It is suggested that when adders are out of hibernation, dogs are kept on a lead for their own protection. For more information about adders visit our wildlife pages http://www.visit-eastern-moors.org.uk/wildlife/adders.html

It’s all in the partnership...

Take the Lead is a campaign supported by the Sheffield Moors Partnership. The partnership is made up of the Eastern Moors Partnership, RSPB, National Trust, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, Sheffield City Council, Peak District National Park Authority and Natural England. These land owners and managers strive to work together to create a landscape rich in wildlife and enjoyable for people, within the Peak District and on the edges of Sheffield.

Signs in the landscape

You may notice these signs in the landscape when you are out and about in the Peak District, especially when you are on the Sheffield Moors. The green sign provides you with information about how to be a responsible dog walker from the 1st March until the 31st August, when it is ground nesting bird season. The purple sign will be up the rest of the year. It requests that you walk your dog without disturbing wildlife or livestock all year round. Indeed, the season for pregnant sheep and lambs extends far either side of the ground nesting bird period. It is at this time that sheep are most vulnerable and dogs must be on a lead at all times if sheep are present.