Recreational use of motor vehicles such as 4x4s and trail bikes on unsealed routes with public vehicular rights is sometimes called 'Green Road Driving', and is a contentious issue in the National Park. These routes are often referred to collectively as 'green roads', but more formally they are known as 'Byways Open to All Traffic' (BOAT), 'Unsurfaced County Road' (UCR), or 'Other Route with Public Access' (ORPA – on Ordnance Survey Maps). These are often finger posted as 'Public Ways' in Cumbria and the National Park.
All unsealed routes with public vehicular access are subject to the same laws as surfaced roads, so all vehicles must be road-legal, that is, taxed and insured, with MOT’s if appropriate, and with visible and correctly sized number plates.
It is a criminal offence to drive or ride a motor-vehicle on any other land or public right of way (footpath, bridleway, restricted byway) without permission from the landowner.
Ordnance Survey maps show unsurfaced routes with vehicular access as follows:
Though with the caveat that 'The exact nature of the rights to these routes and the existence of any restrictions may be checked with the local highway authority' – which is Cumbria County Council.
Some routes are further subject to 'Traffic Regulation Orders' (TROs) which may close the route periodically, sometimes seasonally.
In the Lake District there are TROs on the following routes
Routes may also be subject to voluntary restraint notices from user groups such as the Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA), the Green Lanes Association (GLASS) and the Trail Riders Fellowship TRF. Specific advice can also be given by representatives of these user groups.
Walkers, cyclists, horse-riders, 4x4s and trail riders (motorcycles) all want to use the Lake District for recreation, as well as farmers and landowners who make their living from the land. The landscape is also very vulnerable to damage. Pressures and conflicts arise where users leave legal routes and are inconsiderate to others. For guidance, please refer to the Green Road Drivers Code of Conduct
The Trail Riders' Fellowship website is also a source of very helpful guidance on trail-riding (motorbikes): www.trf.org.uk
A link to the Trail Riders Association which promotes responsible riding - www.trailriders.org
Taking a vehicle off a legitimate route without permission is both illegal and unacceptable, and damages the reputation of legal vehicle users. Any such activity witnessed, for example vehicles leaving the legal routes, not being road-legal, or behaving dangerously, should be reported to Cumbria Police using the 101 non-emergency number.
It is also useful to report incidents to the Lake District National Park Authority, using the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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