A local landowner is calling for children to be better educated about the countryside for their own safety.
Father-of-two Richard Baillie of Allanbank House, Lauder, has called on his local councillors and MSP to support his bid to have school newsletters give links to, and information about, the outdoor access and country code, as well as wild camping before next year’s summer holidays.
“It’s important mostly from a safety point of view and secondly to avoid conflicts,” he tod us.
“If people follow the code and exercise their rights responsibly, everybody would be much happier.
“At least children going out would have a reasonable idea of what they should and shouldn’t do, and that way young people will have been told where they can get the information and, if they don’t read it and cause trouble or get into trouble, there is no excuse.
“There are rights and responsibilities. Ignorance of the country code could prove a serious danger to unsupervised young teenagers.”
The death of Richard Nicholson, who was attacked by cows with calves as he walked his dog near Greenlaw last month – and who Mr Baillie knew – highlighted afresh the dangers of the countryside, he said.
He told us: “It so easily happens and that was an experienced person.
The tragedy followed an incident when unsupervised youngsters camped in woods on Mr Baillie’s land, left a tent, rubbish and perhaps knocked a wall down, and both prompted Mr Baillie to make his suggestion.
He explained: “There is no point standing up and growling and saying ‘this should be done’. The way to go about it is education, to give information and make sure it’s available, particularly to the young. Once young people have seen the country code they won’t forget it.”
Scottish Borders Council’s policy, planning and performance manager in education and lifelong learning, Colin Easton, said: “We have been contacted by Councillor Iain Gillespie who in turn had been contacted by Mr Baillie about a suggested awareness campaign in schools to ensure all young people are aware of the country code.
“We think this is an appropriate request and will be discussing the matter with our senior education officers and head teachers on how best to communicate the key messages to pupils.
“This may be about ensuring there is appropriate materials in schools and building key message into the curriculum.
“It is also recognised that there needs to be a wider community awareness programme on top of whatever is planned for schools.”
The Southern understands Mr Baillie’s suggestion to include information in school newsletters before the summer holidays could be forwarded to Michael Russell MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Education.
For further information on the access code and wild camping visit www.outdooraccess-scotland.com