Deadman's Hill, North yorkshire
I'd been looking for sometime to find a suitable item to form a Grip on Deadman's Hill up on Nidderdale. Having travelled along the A64 several times this year it suddenly dawned on me that they were replacing the safety barriers.
Unable to make email contact with the Highways England, I decided to call the help line for the operation.
This was to be the stuff of sliced bread, I managed to get hold of the company ( and a contact name ) actually doing the work. That turned out to be Roocrofts of Preston. I eventually spoke to Paul, and explained what I was looking for and what they were needed for. Arrangements made, met Jezz and Duncan at about 8pm, loaded up the old scrap barriers and headed off up to Nidderdale. Working closely with the farmer, who uses the route to access his land, we fitted the grips.
Following a request from the landowner for volunteers to help repair his access track, the final phase of work started on Deadman's Hill. A big THANK YOU, to our members for the input today, it was hard work but good fun.
The beginners guide to driving green roads
Unsure of where you can legally drive off the tarmac? Then look no further, here’s the (almost) definitive guide to where you can go.
Firstly join the Green Lane Association – it will be the best £48 you spend. Then we suggest trying to get your first green lane trip with one of the Green Lane Association reps, or someone they recommend, or even just getting their advice on a route. Alternatively, with another reputable group or 4x4 travel guide. If you are still up for planning your first trip, here’s what you need to know.
Know your vehicle
Make sure you know your vehicle and its capabilities. How deep can it wade? What’s its ground clearance? What will you do if you ground out in ruts? Knowledge is key. We won’t go into any depth here about this subject, but as a novice it’s something you need to be aware of.
Can you map read?
This is important as you will need to know what the icons on the map mean, how to spot field boundaries and be able to work out where you are if you’ve gone wrong. Even with digital mapping systems, you can go wrong. It also means that if you meet someone that challenges you, you will be confident that you are in the right place and on a route that carries MPV (Mechanically Propelled Vehicle) rights.
Finding green roads
Purchase your local OS map and look at the key. You need to be looking for these:
Confirming legal status
So, we now know we can drive BOATs and UCRs, but just because they are on the OS map doesn’t mean they are driveable. They could be wrongly marked, have TROs (Traffic Regulation Orders) on them, be too narrow, and so on. You can get advice from our reps or by checking on TW2, however, the only true way of finding the correct status is by looking at the Definitive Map (DM) or List of Streets (LoS).
The DM is held at your Council’s Rights of Way Department. They may have an online version as well, but there is only one true DM, the paper version.
The LoS will be held by the Highway Authority, sometimes in the rights of way department, but not always. As a member of the public you are entitled to view these maps, usually by appointment. It’s a good idea to mark up your own paper maps with highlighter pens (Green=BOAT, Pink=UCR), as shown below.
Planning your trip
Now you’re ready to plan your trip, and you need to decide how to do it. Some people still use paper maps – 1:25k is best because it shows more detail.
Most people these days plan routes and navigate using digital mapping (but it’s a good idea to still carry paper maps), and these can be varied. Many people use programmes like Memory Map or View Ranger to plan routes and navigate, and there are lots of ways to view them in your 4x4, with tablets being the most popular. Yet when you plan your route you will probably want to cross reference TW2.
TW2 is the Green Lane Association’s national database of green roads (and other rights of way). It is like Wikipedia where users can upload comments and photographs to the system, which is extremely handy. You can view routes in OS map mode along with a host of other features. Each lane has a UID (Unique Identification Number), so it’s easy to discuss routes online with other users.
You may also want to check whether the routes are clear of TROs. Most counties post a list of TROs on their website, but if not, check with your local Green Lane Association rep who should be able to advise.
If you are taking a small group out or getting someone else to run a separate group on the same day, it might be advisable to recce the route beforehand.
Besides your 4x4, what else do you require? Most lanes don’t require any mods to your vehicle, but you may need a little additional ground clearance, and at least All Terrain tyres, except in the driest of conditions. A suitable tow rope and shackles may come in handy if you ground out for example, and obviously some form of tow point front and rear that will take the necessary pressures. A spade could be useful, as are a bow saw and loppers. A hi-lift jack should definitely be considered. and don’t forget a first aid kit and phone! These are a few basic items that might make the difference as to whether you make it back in time for tea or not!
Running a trip
The big day has arrived and you’re ready to head out in your 4x4. You should be armed with appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather and conditions. You should have a packed lunch and plenty of water. And most importantly, a friend in another vehicle to go with!
What might you come across out there? Ruts? Gates? Landowners? Other users? Other users that challenge you? Animals? Illegal obstructions? Fallen trees? The list goes on. Each will come with its own set of challenges. On the other hand, you might have an uneventful day, and meet no-one. Certainly these days are the best days, but it pays to be prepared.
Getting out of trouble
One day something unexpected will happen, whether you break down or fall accidentally into a ditch, or suffer an injury, but by far the most common these days is meeting an anti. The worst anti is the one that wants to confront you and make you think that you are in the wrong. Their arguments can often be very strong (even if misconstrued), so be prepared to be polite, say you will check with the council that the route is legal, and be prepared to turn around and back track. Experience allows you to stand your ground. You may wish to consider driving green roads during the week to avoid the busier times on the weekend.
What are your rights to divert around an obstruction? Remove a fallen tree? Cut back undergrowth? Well, in order to pass, and assuming you always carry a saw or loppers, you can cut back the obstruction in order to pass. You must leave any wood on the verge though, as these belong to the land owner. Taking firewood away with you is theft.
You can also legally divert around an obstruction in order to pass. But please be considerate when you do this, or perhaps turn around and report the obstruction when you get home. Legally diverting around an obstruction is better left for lanes where land owners illegally obstruct. Just because a tree has fallen, it’s not really fair to drive though someone’s hedge to pass. Think about it logically and consider how you would feel if it was your land. Better to retreat on the day and come back another time.
When you get back home, please fill in some comments on TW2 as it will help others in their planning process and also record you usage. It’s worth remembering that in 2006 we lost over 50% of the green roads that we used to be able to drive and recording usage is essential in case further challenges to vehicular rights are made.
If you want to find out more, there is a wealth of knowledge within the association and the Green Lane Association forum is a great place to ask questions and discuss routes. Do please consider joining the Green Lane Association.
Bainton green lane repair
From local knowledge as the Green Lane Association Rep for East Yorkshire it became apparent that the lane at Bainton was deteriorating quite badly from use during wet weather. This might be due to the Seasonal TROs on other local lanes putting more pressure on the rest. During the summer the lane was passable with only a small section that was rutted. By the New Year this small section had extended significantly and a large hole had been created that had filled with water. Further damage was being caused by vehicles that were recovering those that had become stuck in the hole.
From conversations with the previous Highways Officer, it was apparent that the local Parish Council were unhappy about this damage and were seeking solutions. Along with East Riding 4x4 Club it was decided that some repairs should be undertaken as far as possible given the time of year. After a few onsite planning meetings and gaining permission from East Riding Council, a group of around 10 volunteers from the club met with the Green Lane Association Rep one frosty Sunday morning to do what we could.
That morning we met several local residents out waking their dogs including some Parish Council members. All were pleased to see that some action was being taken and ensured us that they wanted the lane to stay open for all users. By repairing the damage to the lane it might just stop the motor cycles from riding down the footpath, thereby making it a nice experience for all. In these discussions we learned of the original cause to the damage on the lane. Apparently a group of military trucks from DST (Defence School of Transport) Leconfield had gone down the lane and one became badly stuck, requiring the large recovery vehicle to be sent to winch it out. This left significant damage that was not repaired and has deteriorated since.
Due to the softness of the ground and not wanting to cause further damage it was decided on the day that all we could do was to fill in the large hole and cut back some blackthorn that was encroaching in one section. Filling in the hole took most of the day, firstly a grip was dug to relieve the water and then bricks that had been brought by the volunteers were placed into the ruts to bring the height back up. Thanks go to Rob for letting us use his Defender as a wheelbarrow! Finally we were able to tip a load of hard core, kindly provided by a local land owner and delivered by one of the volunteers into the hole to build on the base that had been created and make a suitable surface. Some of the fly-tipping was removed and taken to the local tip.
All the moving of bricks / stone by hand and by machine was rewarded with sausage and bacon butties provided by the club and cooked onsite. Yet again Andy didn’t poison anyone! After lunch and a quick rest some of the smaller ruts were filled in by hand using many wheelbarrows and lots of shovelling.
This lane will need more works in the summer months once it has dried out. Another local land owner has offered help in the way of more bricks and rubble so hopefully the damage this next winter season will not be as bad and will see the lane kept open for all users.
Thanks go out to all the volunteers from East Riding 4x4 Club who attended on the day and supported before the event, this could not have happened without you.
Sam Jones, East Yorkshire Rep
Fosseway lane clearance
Over the 2017/18 winter months, we were asked by Wiltshire County Council to undertake three major clearances. With budgets ever tightening, local authorities are looking ever more often to volunteers to assist them.
In the very far north of Wiltshire, my team and I saw our third and final lane clearance of the winter season draw to a close on the 11th February 2018, after clearing two other lanes near Buttermere and Avebury. This time the weather was kind to us – still a bitter wind though. The lane was cut back upwards as well to make it easier for equestrians to ride the section. As the nesting season kicks in, it won’t be until the Autumn before the next clearance project.
My thanks to all the volunteers that have given their time and pitched in whatever the weather!
Dale Wyatt, Wiltshire rep
Holmfirth, Green Lane
Green lanes get the green light as Slaley Forest partnership promotes responsible use of public byways
New signage is now in place at the Forestry Commission’s Slaley forest, Northumberland, which provides clear information on the rights of way through the forest trails.
Forestry Commission, working in collaboration with Northumbria Police, Northumberland County Council, Green Lane Association, Northumbria Trail Riders Fellowship and the local community, have improved access information so that everyone can enjoy the forest safely. Slaley forest welcomes a variety of users from walkers, cyclists and horse riders to trail bikers and 4x4 drivers. The new signage clearly explains which routes through the forest are legally open to all traffic.
Alex MacLennan, Recreation & Public Affairs Manager for Forestry Commission for the North East has been leading the project and explains:
“Forestry Commission welcomes everyone to the public forest estate. Slaley is a popular location for trail bike riders and 4x4 drivers and part of managing this site with multiple users is to ensure that the public byways are clearly marked so everyone can maximise their enjoyment of this special forest, whilst at the same time staying on the right side of the law.”
Neighbourhood Inspector Pam Bridges said: “Northumbria Police is delighted to support this collaborative initiative. Police will continue to work with local agencies and individuals to ensure this area is available for visitors to enjoy.”
Northumbria Trail Riders Fellowship welcomes all responsible trail riders who are looking to learn where they can ride in the area, and have been a key contributor and partner in this project. Greg Villalobos, Chairman Northumbria TRF, said:
“All the riders at Northumbria Trail Riders Fellowship are proud to have been part of this initiative. We value the Green Road network in the north east and understand that Slaley Forest is an important and sensitive part of that. We believe that with a respectful approach all users can use the byways open to all traffic and that having clear signage, that doesn't discriminate against any particular user group, helps send out a positive message about where vehicles can and can't access.”
An equal contributor to the partnership has been The Green Lane Association (GLASS), who promote the responsible use of public byways. Darren Clark, Northumberland Area rep for The Green Lane Association, adds:
“The Green Lane Association (GLASS) is proud to support and work with the Forestry Commission in promoting the responsible use of our public byways. These new signs should make it easier for all users to access the forest legally. We believe everyone has a part to play in preserving this sensitive area of the northeast for all to enjoy.”
Darren Clarke, Northumberland Rep
A big thank you to Mark Lee The Green Lane Association member for standing in on my behalf
Wessx Ridgeway, near Buttermere
Organised in conjunction with Wiltshire County Council, a Green Lane Association team undertook a clearance day on a crisp, clear and cold December day.
An official lane clearance in Wiltshire on Saturday 16th December with 15 the Green Lane Association members giving up their day to help cut back the over growth. We cleared just over half a mile of green road and paid attention to clearing high, so equestrian users can use without ducking. After all, byways are for all users. In addition, we cut back hard on a couple of soft sections (soft being little more than a muddy puddle) so they have a chance to dry out. Total volunteer hours: 120.
West Yorkshire Green Lane awareness/education day
On Sunday 22 October the Green Lane Association in partnership with West Yorkshire Police and Peak Park Rangers, held another green lane awareness/education day in the Holmfirth area of West Yorkshire.
In attendance were a good turnout of Green Lane Association members, two personnel from West Yorkshire Police (complete with the Police Land Rover) and Gordon Danks (one of the Peak Park rangers). Unfortunately the tail end of storm Brian was also there making it a little wild up on the moor. This is an area which has, for some time, suffered from off-piste and illegal off-road driving and the various agencies involved are keen to work together to demonstrate that this is unacceptable and to do what we can to educate people as to their responsibilities when driving/riding our green lanes. We spent the day on one of the popular BOAT’s in the area talking to 4x4 drivers and motorcyclists regarding keeping it legal on the lanes, where they can and can’t drive/ride and how they can research what is legal to use. On these events we also like to talk to local people out walking themselves and/or dogs to promote the fact that we are trying to address an issue in the area and to inform them of what they can do if they witness illegal activity.
The day was a little disappointing in terms of the volume of 4x4/motorcycle traffic (possibly that was storm Brian’s contribution), however these days are also valuable in networking with the other organisations and building relationships. They are also seen as valuable PR showing that, where there is a problem, the Green Lane Association are working with all concerned to alleviate this. To this end, an article was published in the local newspaper (Huddersfield Examiner) reporting the days action. As the clocks have now gone back, heralding darker evenings and winter approaches, bringing wetter weather and muddier conditions the problem will reappear but the police have confirmed that if they start receiving more reports of illegal activity they will be happy to repeat the exercise. Watch this space.
Many thanks to all who attended and helped out at this event.
Alex Davidson, West Yorkshire rep
Nant Y Moch, Ceredigion
After years of water erosion and finally a very wet winter, we needed a JCB to carry out repairs to this popular route.
This was the second approved project in Ceredigion, following in line with previous Highways agreements. Again, Green Lane Association Area Reps carried out surveys in advance to ensure legality and route status, working in conjunction with the Highways department.
The UCR had taken an extreme weathering by water throughout the winter, and already well eroded washouts were becoming dangerous and impassable for some. Ceredigion CC provided a JCB and driver for the 2 days to work alongside Treadlightly volunteers to level out and grade some substantial lengths of unsurfaced road and create various large drainage gullies.
Green Lane Association & Treadlightly volunteers then agreed to carry out waymarking along the entire route to ensure all intersections were clearly identified to all users. Due to the length of the route this was done using several small teams of volunteers, with posts supplied by Ceredigion CC and Treadlightly funded signage.
Gatescarth Pass, Lake District
After the devastating floods in late 2015, the pass suffered a landslip. With priority being low on the list, the Green Lane Association and the TRF jointly funded the repair so that this iconic green road could be enjoyed by users the following year.
The pass was low on the list to be repaired, and as this is such an iconic lane it seemed only fit that we helped pay the bill to get the lane re-opened as soon as we could. We negotiated a weekend in May for the first permits to be issued (Gatescarth Pass is a permit only green road) which meant no open days were lost in 2016. The Green Lane Association has now negotiated to provide volunteers to check the permits on each open day.
Smay Down Lane, Shalbourne, Wiltshire, November 2016
Organised in conjunction with Wiltshire County Council, a small team of Green Lane Association and TRF volunteers opened up a rather overgrown byway.
After an email from one of Wiltshire County Council’s rights of way wardens asking if we could clear a lane, a site visit was organised to see how much work was involved. Although it wasn’t heavily overgrown by our standards, it was quite hazardous to equestrian users with many low branches and overgrowth encroaching on much of the road.
After raising enough interest, and with a couple of members of Wiltshire TRF joining us, we took six hours to clear around half a mile of lane, cutting back hard on one side to give a decent amount of room for all users.
Publications from the Green Lane Association
With our regular digital Bulletins and bi-annual magazine, you’re never far from news, views and articles from the green road world. Yes, there’s Facebook and other social media, but what’s there today is gone tomorrow.
Produced six times a year and sent out as a PDF, it contains up to date news items from our reps and other sources, including information from Facebook and other on-line media streams – all in one place!
The magazine, Green Lanes
Produced twice a year and posted to your door in Spring and Autumn, our magazine contains articles about green laning, longer term projects and thought provoking editorial pieces.
Both publications are available to members of the Green Lane Association, but the magazine can be purchased at shows we attend.