Plan Ahead and Prepare
Check the weather forecast and wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Ensure you have adequate hydration and food snacks. Be safe, know your skill level and respect the landowner’s wishes by closing gates and not damaging fences or private property. Ensure you park responsibly and don’t block gateways, forest entrances and narrow roads which need to be passable for emergency services, land managers and local residents.
As businesses like visitor centres, service stations and restaurants are closed, there are limited availability of services. The result could be a lack of water, toilets, or other facilities. Do your best to research before you leave home, but also be prepared for things to change quickly. Take necessary precautions like bringing extra food and water, learning how to go to the bathroom outdoors, and being ready to pack all your rubbish out with you.
Stay at Home, or at least Stay Local
If you are unwell, the best thing to do is to stay at home. Even if you are not symptomatic, less travel is still a good idea. You can enjoy your local trails, open spaces, and parks. Rather than travel to popular outdoor places, try exploring your local area. There is a wealth of walks to choose from across Ireland. Whereas some are popular and well-known, many hidden gems are waiting to be explored. Consider participating in citizen science while you are outside.
Be Considerate of Others
Be considerate of other outdoor visitors by washing your hands regularly and using hand sanitizer when hand washing facilities are not available. Sneeze and cough into a tissue or your elbow. Maintain social distancing throughout the day, at least 2 metres apart. There is plenty of space in the outdoors for everyone
Avoid Times and Places of High Use
Social distancing applies to the outdoors too. To avoid creating large crowds and groups at popular trails or outdoor areas, spread out to less popular spots, and avoid times of highest use if possible. If an outdoor area is more crowded than anticipated, do not hesitate to adjust plans. Use low risk routes to avoid needing rescue services at this time. Remember to adhere to the HSE guidelines.
Bring Your Rubbish Home
With limited staff and services in many parks and protected areas, rubbish and recycling facilities may not operate as normal. This can result in rubbish overflowing which becomes litter and can harm wildlife and livestock. Instead of relying on these services, pack all your rubbish with you and bring it all home.
Be Responsible with Your Dog
If taking a dog with you, choose a location where dogs are permitted and keep your dog under control. Follow local signage and remember that the presence of dogs can startle sheep, wildlife, and ground-nesting birds. Always carry waste bags with you when walking your dog and pick up after them.
Don’t Forget the 7 Principles
Our outdoor spaces will likely be receiving less resources from staff and volunteers for the time being. This means our outdoor spaces need us to act as environmental stewards more than ever. Remember, it is still just as important to prepare for changing weather conditions, stick to trails, dispose of our waste properly, minimise fire impacts, leave what we find, keep a safe distance from wildlife, and be considerate of others.