13 April 2023

7 Common Misconceptions to Avoid to Stay on the Right Side of Outside

The outdoors is where we go to unwind, to exercise, even to educate the little ones. Northern Ireland is fortunate to have incredibly idyllic locations, but it’s essential that we do everything we can to preserve them. One way we can do that is by challenging misconceptions people may have about the outdoors and about what the right or wrong ways are to do certain things.

“I personally can’t do anything to help the environment”

A simple fact of nature is that there is no one fix all piece of technology or government policy that will ever rectify everything. For this reason, it’s important to remember that you – yes, you reading this! – are required to take small actions to help. Planting native trees and plants, volunteering with an environmental charity – the more of us that take these steps, the greater the difference we can all make.

From small acorns…

“I’m experienced in the outdoors, I know what I’m doing”

Whilst expertise is always a great thing to have, you should never become complacent. A surprising amount of people who get into difficulty in the outdoors do so after becoming surprised by a change in the weather, conditions or by the challenge of the outdoor place they are going to. Always check the weather, research where you’re going to ensure you have the right equipment and get as much information as possible about your route.

Simple things like sunglasses, hats and good walking boots can be easy to forget

“I can park in front of a field entrance”

This was a particularly significant issue during the pandemic. While the field you’re thinking of parking beside may look secluded, and while other people may have decided to ditch their cars their, blocking access to a field can pose a serious risk to farmers if they got into difficulty and needed emergency services. Even if there isn’t a serious incident, blocking a field is a major inconvenience, preventing farmers from tending to animals or their field.

Divis Mountain saw vast numbers of cars poorly parked which then impeded emergency services

“Roasting marshmallows by a camp fire is great”

Films might make this seems like the most reasonable thing in the world to do, but the truth is open fires should be avoided at all costs. They cause significant damage to the environment, can disrupt the habitats of nearby wildlife and – as has happened in Northern Ireland previously – they can get out of control rapidly, with no warning.

Northern Ireland is no stranger to wild fires

“I can control my dog off the lead”

We should make clear that we at OutmoreNI LOVE dogs. All of are dog owners. That’s why this point is such an important one to us – you might be able to control your dog in normal circumstances. If however a sheep happens across your path, or you meet someone with a fear of dogs, circumstances can rapidly slip out of your control. What happens won’t be your dog’s fault – it will be yours.

The face of a pup waiting patiently for his lead to be put on

“I’m helping by putting my dog poo and litter in the bins”

This is what we would describe as ‘the least worst option’. In reality, the best thing we can do for our outdoor spaces is to bring our litter and dog poo home, where it can be sorted properly. This might seem somewhat radical, but it’s a mindset that has already set in, in America, and we’re sure will spread in Northern Ireland soon. The benefits are many; more waste gets recycled, less bins are needed up mountains which means less man hours wasted in lifting bags of poo.

Bins fill up, spill out and damage the environment

“Camping is okay provided we leave no trace”

While leaving no trace is very important, there are many areas of Northern Ireland where camping isn’t permitted. This may be for an ecological, environmental or personal safety reason – but whatever the reason, it’s important to follow the advice and find somewhere where camping is permitted. Always make sure any BBQ is fully extinguished and cold before disposing of their content.

Camping is an incredibly pleasant hobby – it’s just essential to make sure you’re doing it right

To find out more about the Right Side of Outside, please watch out for our upcoming blogs and infographics on our social media channels which you can find at the bottom of this page!


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