Research reveals Brits frustrations around lack of walking etiquette

Ordnance Survey has investigated how increasing footfall in the countryside and green spaces in towns and cities has impacted on the environment

4 minute read
More than one in two Brits that visit the countryside are left frustrated by the behaviour of others who disrespect the environment.

A study of 2,000 adults found the most unpleasant misdemeanours to upset Brits out walking was dropping litter (78%), not picking up dog mess (71%) or leaving poo bags on the side of paths (71%).

Other frustrating traits included letting dogs loose near wild animals, leaving gates open and parking irresponsibly.

The research, commissioned by Ordnance Survey, found that one in three people admitted to turning a blind eye to littering when they see it.

And one in four people surveyed preferred to avoid confrontation by being prepared to clear up the litter themselves.

With National Get Outside Day on Sunday 26 September, OS is keen to emphasise that people should always leave the environment as they originally found it when out and about.

OS Managing Director for Leisure, Nick Giles, said: “There are two things OS is passionate about – making sure people find the outdoors enjoyable, accessible and safe, and making life sustainable.

“But as these survey results show, half of us are having our experiences tainted by carelessness regarding our environment.

“The majority of people are respecting and enjoying the outdoors but unfortunately a small number are thoughtless and leave litter or mess behind.

“We all have to protect the outdoors for future generations to come. That means when going outside please put rubbish in bins or take it home with you, please clean up after your dogs and please follow the countryside code.

“The only thing anybody should be leaving behind after they’ve been outside is their footprints.”

The study, carried out by OnePoll, also found that on average one in four Brits go on a walk in the countryside, urban park or green space every week.

74% of Brits claimed that when they walk in the countryside or urban green space they respected the environment.

But more than a third of Brits felt very strongly that walking was made less enjoyable when others disrespected the environment.

Young people aged 18-24 are the most likely age group to go for a walk in the countryside or urban green space, with 68% of people in this age bracket strongly agreeing they get frustrated when others don’t respect the environment.

Since the pandemic, Britain has built a new connection with the outdoors. This has been reflected with OS seeing an 80% increase in subscribers for its OS Maps App.

Brits attitude towards the countryside also changed during the pandemic, with 55% claiming they are more grateful to spend time outside now compared to before.

Half of those surveyed said getting outside for mindfulness walks helped them to switch off an relax, while 49% responded saying how important getting fresh air was to them.

And more than one in three people admitted that getting out in the countryside was a great way to socialise with friends when meeting up inside was not allowed.

Nick added: “The positive impact spending time outside has on the human mind is massive. So whether its spending time with family of friends, participating in an organised group activity, or just getting out on your own, National GetOutside Day is here to encourage you.

“We are offering a range of ideas and free activities for everyone to start planning their day.

“You might wish to try something new, such as geocaching, taking part in a wildlife survey or planting something outside, or just go for a jog, cycle, wild swim or walk.

“Just visit the GetOutside website and you will find plenty of inspirational ideas for a day outside.”

Anyone wishing to find out more can visit , download the GetOutside app or follow the social media hashtag #GetOutsideDay.


Get ideas on new areas to explore on our OS Leisure GetOutside website.

Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey

Our highly accurate geospatial data and printed maps help individuals, governments and companies to understand the world, both in Britain and overseas.