Take back the tracks

Lake District Green Lanes Alliance

"I don’t mind if people want to love their vehicles and want to test them - but surely not in internationally beloved beauty spots.”

James Rebanks, Lake District shepherd and best-selling author

small twitter.jpg
small instagram.JPG




43 leading environmental scientists have written to the National Park, asking for urgent action against 4x4s and motorbikes. They say that motor vehicles on these rural tracks are doubly unsustainable: 4x4s and motorbikes pollute the atmosphere; they also have a direct impact on the landscape, shattering the peaceful beauty of this jewel of National Parks. Read their letter here and a summary of the scientific evidence here. If you need an illustration, watch this 16 second video clip from a track near Colton, posted by Northern Greenlaners on Facebook on 27 September. 


Richard Leafe, the CEO of the LDNPA, has now responded to the scientists. (Read his letter here.) His reply is misleading both as to the facts and the law.

It is apparent that Richard Leafe has no answers to, and therefore fails to address, one of main points raised in the scientists' letter, the impact of 4x4s and motorbikes on the landscape character of the Lake District. Mr Leafe writes: 

"What is less clear is whether their activity is physically damaging the upland habitats as there is little evidence of vehicles straying from the unsealed roads and damaging the habitats surrounding them." And he continues:

"Consequently without such evidence the legal tests, as defined in national legislation, that must be applied to instate Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) cannot be met and any attempt to instate a TRO without robust and verifiable evidence to support it, is open to challenge and likely failure."  (emphasis added)

Physical damage is but one of a number of basic reasons that can be used for a TRO. Section 22 of the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act specifies that in National Parks TROs can be made for the purpose of conserving or enhancing the natural beauty of the area, or of affording better opportunities for the public to enjoy the amenities of the area, or recreation or the study of nature in the area.

In the Yorkshire Dales and Peak District National Parks every single Traffic Regulation Order banning motor vehicles on green lanes was introduced for this very reason.

It is therefore misleading, to claim, as he does, that the sole basis for a TRO is "physical damage" to the habitat. This is to misrepresent the law. 

Read our full statement here.


The tracks in red between Little Langdale and High Tilberthwaite are heavily used by 4x4s and motorbikes. This is Curlew and Lapwing habitat - and we must protect it.

For more information on Curlew click here.

Read what a Kendal cycling club thinks about green lane driving: unsustainable both environmentally and socially. 

YD LD infograph.jpg

A shocking conservation fault-line between the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District - revealed in our latest newsletter. Plus: a brief history of TROs in the Peak District, Little Langdale caught in a web of off-road routes and an eminent Wordsworth scholar from Japan writes about the impact of off-road vehicles on Wordsworth's landscape.


All you need to know in 10 seconds. Just listen.

Watch dusk fall over the majestic Langdale Pikes, a new immersive video by Ben Dickey.

Polaris 5 Sep 2020  with text.jpg

New off-road monsters, driving onto the green lane at High Nibthwaite, 5 September 2020.

James Rebanks tweets his support. Read what he and others have to say about green lane driving.

A 4x4 driver has second thoughts  Read this article from the Daily Telegraph.

The "Hierarchy of Trail Routes" is the Lake District National Park's answer to green lane driving. Hierarchy of Trail Route signs adorn many green lanes in the Lake District - no other National Park has adopted it. it was devised by off-road motorists. Read here why this voluntary restraint scheme, devised by off-road motorists, solves nothing.


The Judicial Review brought by the Green Lanes Environmental Action Movement (GLEAM) has not been successful. But the judgment  does not affect the validity of our central claim, that off-roading on two fell tracks near Little Langdale is environmentally and socially unacceptable.


Although we addressed our open letter to the Members of the Lake District National Park as the body responsible for setting LDNPA strategy and providing leadership and scrutiny, we received a reply from Richard Leafe, the CEO. But we need the Members to look at the way Richard Leafe and his team have shown a persistend pro-offroader bias thorughout this process. So we wrote again to the Members ...

Lake District Green Lanes Alliance

The LDGLA is an alliance for all those who want to protect our historic green lanes  for farming access and quiet, non-motorised recreation. 

We fully support the National Park's statutory purposes of conserving natural beauty and promoting the enjoyment of its special qualities. 

Permitting recreational motor vehicles to colonise the landscape ruins the Lake District for everyone in our diverse and multicultural society.


Little Langdale

Recently the focus has very much been on the High Tilberthwaite and High Oxenfell tracks. We are grateful to GLEAM (the Green Lanes Environmental Action Movement) for leading the Judicial Review against the Lake District National Park Authority's decision not to consult on Traffic Regulation Orders. Over £60,000 have been raised to fund it - showing the massive support for this cause in the country. We'll keep you updated about progress.

Green Lanes in the Lake District

Green lanes are unsealed tracks, an important part of the Lake District's cultural heritage. They were made for pedestrian and horse-drawn traffic, not for motor vehicles with pneumatic tyres and propelled through their wheels. According to the LDNPA there are 75 green lanes in the Lake District. Of these 16 are classified as red routes, i.e. "priority management routes with significant use requiring significant monitoring/management". The tracks at Little LangdaleHigh Nibthwaite, ElterwaterTarn Hows and  Stang End and are just some examples.

The Aims of the Lake District Green Lanes Alliance
We are campaigning for the prohibition of recreational motor vehicles on green lanes in the Lake District National Park:

  • By arguing that recreational activities in the Lake District should be essentially quiet, non-destructive and non-polluting.

  • By showing that recreational use of green lanes by 4x4s and motor bikes makes routes unpleasant or impossible for non-vehicle users and causes disruption, inconvenience and distress for farmers.

  • By encouraging the Lake District National Park Authority and Cumbria County Council to use their powers to prohibit recreational motor vehicles through Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs). Programmes for the introduction of such orders should be energetically promoted.

NB: Traffic Regulation Orders make exemptions for farmers and people with disabilities.

The Sandford Principle
We presented our case again at the last full LDNPA meeting of 2019, emphasising that the Sandford Principle (codified in the 1995 Environment Act) clearly states that where there is a conflict between conservation and enjoyment, conservation MUST take precedence.
The LDGLA argue that the current issue is an explicit example of the Sandford Principle being tested for its efficacy. Some 16 years ago, when the 2004 Management Plan was being drawn up, the draft copy of that plan mooted a blanket ban for motorised vehicles on green lanes, unsealed roads and byways. It was withdrawn after an outcry by the motoring organisations.
Yet how much worse is the problem today? These lanes have been the living backbone of Lakeland communities since Viking times and beyond and now the legacy of these historic routes may be lost forever.The sale of recreational 4x4s across the UK is rising (37 to 1 compared to the sale of electric vehicles) despite the global need to radically reduce carbon emissions. This problem will undoubtedly escalate in the coming years.
Our National Parks, these hard-won spaces of peaceful freedom and quiet enjoyment truly deserve our protection.

For more information on Green Lanes and the law visit the GLEAM website.

aafa logo.JPG

AMBLESIDE ACTION FOR A FUTURE is a network of local residents working together to mitigate climate and environmental breakdown and build community resilience.

Scafell video pic.JPG

Immerse yourself in the Lake District with these ambient videos by Ben Dickey.