Campaigning to free green lanes from recreational vehicles.

Where the tarmac stops, vehicles should stop.

YDGLA, PO Box 159, Otley, LS21 9BT


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‘In our modern society, the motor car and motorbike have taken over vast tracts of land. We must preserve the few quiet places that remain. Green lanes were never intended for the internal combustion engine. Please help to protect them for those of us who move at a much slower place.’ - Chris Brasher, CBE


Lane End 2 clean copy

A green lane in perfect condition

Abandoned 4 x 4 Occupation Road clean copy

A green lane that has been devastated by the passage of motorbikes and 4x4s

‘Green lane’ is a term that has no legal significance, but it is very useful for grouping together various sorts of tracks that traverse the Dales landscape. These tracks may be recorded on Ordnance Survey maps as byways open to all traffic (BOATs), as bridleways, as unclassified tracks, or even as footpaths. What is common to them is that they are 'unsealed' - they have no tarmac surface, and are often simply grassy tracks winding across heather moorland. Many green lanes are medieval in origin. A few are Roman. They evolved in order to provide routes across the Dales for farmers, drovers, pack-horses and horse-drawn carts. They are distinctive and beautiful features of the Dales. In many ways they are the most powerful symbols of the way humans have shaped this superb landscape. Obviously, they were never designed with modern motor traffic in mind. However, until recently, the peculiarities of highway law meant that if, centuries ago, a horse and cart legally used a green lane, convoys of motor bikes and 4 wheel drive vehicles can legally use it today, no matter how much damage and nuisance they cause. The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC see Glossary), which came into force in May 2006, does a great deal to end this absurdity, but there are still numbers of green lanes in the Dales that are legally open to recreational motor vehicles, and many green lanes whose status is at present unclear, but which may carry public vehicular rights.


This clumsy term refers to those who take advantage of archaic highway laws in order to drive 4x4s and motorbikes, for fun, along the ancient green lanes. Frequently, these users are called ‘off-roaders’, although the term is problematic. Despite the NERC Act, there are still plenty of green lanes that are not legally protected, and there are still plenty of 4x4 and motorbike users who go out and drive and ride along them. The damage and nuisance that they cause can be seen and heard throughout the Dales. The noise and pollution associated with motor traffic is still regularly encountered, miles from the tarmac, in the remotest parts of the National Park. Recreational vehicles destroy the fragile surfaces of the lanes, disturb the peace and tranquillity that is essential to the character of the National Park and the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and make life difficult for the farmers who need the green lanes to get to their pastures. A precious part of the Dales heritage is being wrecked.


The YDGLA was set up in 2002 with the aim of bringing together all those who want green lanes in the Dales National Park and the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to be closed to recreational motor vehicles. YDGLA mobilises the general public’s view that recreational motor vehicles should have no place on the beautiful green lanes of the Dales. YDGLA’s membership includes:-

  • Farmers
  • Fell Runners
  • Bed-and-breakfast proprietors
  • Landowners
  • Game-keepers
  • Naturalists
  • Cyclists
  • Archaeologists
  • Rock Climbers
  • Cavers
  • Horse-riders and carriage drivers
  • Walkers

Parish councils, and numbers of local societies have formally affiliated to the YDGLA. Local branches of the Moorland Association and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural of England, for example, are affiliated. All three MPs whose constituencies include parts of the National Park are honorary members. It is becoming plain that the YDGLA expresses the views of a very wide range of opinion in the Dales from both residents and visitors. YDGLA's twin purposes are:

To campaign for the imposition by North Yorkshire County Council, and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, of Traffic Regulation Orders prohibiting recreational motor vehicles from Dales green lanes.

To campaign for further amendments to highway law. Green lanes should be open only to farmers and landowners who need access, to horse-riders, to horse-drawn vehicles, to pedal-cyclists, and to pedestrians. Green lanes should be closed to recreational motor vehicles.