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Green Lane near Malham Mountain biking around Malhamdale

Green lanes

The use of motor vehicles on the ‘green lanes’ of the Yorkshire Dales is an emotive issue. It can be a source of complaint by residents and visitors alike. Irresponsible and illegal use makes this situation worse. We have worked with LARA and the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF), county councils and conservation bodies to produce this guidance leaflet for 4×4 users and motorcycle riders:

The main points are:

  • Use only motor vehicular rights of way. It is illegal to drive on footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways or over open land without the owners permission;
  • Make sure you and your vehicle are fully road legal
  • Be courteous to other users and landowners
  • Travel slowly and in small groups
  • Keep to the defined track
  • Exercise restraint in the use of unsurfaced routes in wet conditions
  • Help protect wildlife, especially ground nesting birds

Which routes can motor vehicles use?

A Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) has proven rights for motor vehicles. Details of BOATs in the Yorkshire Dales National Park can be downloaded below:

Motor vehicle users also regularly use a number of unsurfaced unclassified roads (UURs) which have possible, but unproven, rights for motor vehicles. Anyone requiring details about which routes are on the ‘list of streets’ should contact the relevant county council. North Yorkshire County Council provides excellent mapped information at (use the ‘maps’ link at the top of the home page). You could also look at which shows routes in the National Park. Although we cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of this external website, it does appear to show the up-to-date status of most routes.

Details of routes in the Cumbria area are available on Cumbria County Council’s website.

Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs)

There are currently restrictions in place on a number of routes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, which are either for management reasons or for essential maintenance work. You can download a copy of the current permanent restrictions below.

Voluntary restraint agreements

A voluntary restraint agreement has been placed on Ravenstonedale Moor. This requests motor vehicle users not to use the route between 1 November and 30 April. At other times of year you should not use the route if you could leave evidence of your passage. LARA, the TRF and GLASS state that this route was not constructed to take the weight and power of modern vehicles. Sections remain wet and vulnerable for long periods and inappropriate use will seriously damage the fragile moorland surface.

Routes where rights have been extinguished

Apart, possibly, from some very rare exceptions the NERC Act means it is illegal to ride a motorcycle or other motor vehicle on anything which is recorded on the Definitive Map as a Bridleway or Footpath or Restricted Byway (up to date OS maps are the readily available nearest indication of this). This also includes a number of routes that are recorded on both the definitive map and the ‘list of streets’ and are sometimes known as dual status routes.

The table below gives details of footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and ‘dual status’ routes that were used by motor vehicles prior to the NERC Act in the belief that they might have motor vehicular rights. The NERC Act extinguishes the possibility of motor vehicular rights on these routes. There have been a number of applications received by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to upgrade footpaths and bridleways to Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs). However, for all these applications it is believed that the highest status they will result in is a Resticted Byway – that is a route which can be used only by foot, cycle, horse, or horse and carriage, but not by recreational motor vehicles.

The NERC Act contains five exemptions to extinguishment of mechanically propelled vehicular rights. The onus is on the user to prove that rights should not be extinguished, based on one or more of the exemptions. Until then, mechanically propelled vehicular rights remain extinguished.

Green lanes management

You can find out more about how these decisions were reached in Green lanes management.