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  Inside Out - North West: Monday September 22, 2003

GREEN LANES ROW

Brian Jones and Jez Edwards
Brian Jones shows presenter Jez Edwards the damage

The Lake District has always been thought of as the North West's playground - but there's a row going on between people who use it.

Should it just be for walkers and climbers, or can 4x4s and trail bikes use it as well?

The issue centres on 'green lanes' - ancient highways which have never been tarmaced.

They're used by walkers, horse riders and cyclists - but motorists also have a legal right to go on them.

Over the years, many have been damaged. The reason is unclear.

Some blame overuse by vehicles. Others say it's natural erosion, made worse by a lack of regular maintenance.

Now the National Park Authority is proposing a ban on all vehicles using these old routes. It's causing quite a spat.

Pro-ban campaigners

Brian Jones and Austin Clews
Brian Jones and trail biker Austin Clews debate the issues

Brian Jones from Friends of the Lake District is in favour of a ban. Brian believes that as well as scarring the landscape, the noise of 4x4s and trail bikes wrecks the tranquillity of the Lake District.

He says, "It's a matter of using the resources to the best advantage."

"The luxury of a large number of people can be destroyed by one motorcycle."

Biker's view

There are two sides to this argument, and as Inside Out discovered, when the two meet to discuss this issue there is rarely a meeting of minds.

The drivers say there's plenty of space for everyone. In total green lanes cover 100 miles - that's just 5 per cent of all the footpaths, bridleways and roads in the area.

Some are virtually impassable. Others are easier because the surface can handle the wear and tear.

Trail biker Austin Clews' reply to Brian Jones is, "Aren't you [the walkers] happy with all the footpaths you have?"

"We don't want to use paved roads. There are different bikes for those. We want to enjoy ourselves on these roads."

Maintenance issue

4 x4 driver
Lack of maintenance can be a real issue

Pete Taylforth was born in the Lakes and as a local uses many green lanes, which he drives for pleasure and as short-cuts.

He says that 4x4s are bound to cause a disproportionate amount of damage due to their immense weight.

However, he also says that walkers and cyclists also leave their marks on the countryside and that the real issue is lack of maintenance.

Managed enjoyment

One partial solution may be to make the mechanised lot pay for their fun.

There are several companies in the Lake District who run off road and quad biking experiences on private land.

Paul Fitzsimmons of Cumbria All Terrain says all activities are done with the land owner's permission, and they repair any damage.

This manages the damage, minimises erosion but still provides the adrenalin buzz and skills training you get from 4x4 driving.

Further action

The various parties have been failing for ten years to solve this problem.

Now the National Park Authority is planning to lobby the Government to introduce legislation.

This is likely to receive equally fierce opposition from those who prefer to enjoy the views of the Lake District via their high powered engines.

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
BBC Holiday: Lake District

On the rest of the web
Lake district National Park Authority
Clews Leisure Ltd
CAT 4x4

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

JULIAN BUCKMASTER
MY FAMILY HAVE LIVED IN THE LAKE DISTRICT ALL OUR LIVES, AND ENJOY EVERY ACTIVITY FROM SWIMMING TO GREENLANING, WALKING TO BIKE RIDING. WE MEET LOTS OF DIFFERENT PEOPLE WHO ARE OUT TO ENJOY THE AREA AS WE ARE, AND WE ALL TOLERATE EACH OTHER. SO WHY IS IT THAT ONE GROUP OF PEOPLE ARE BEING VICTIMISED, I THINK IT’S GOT A LOT TO DO WITH THE MEDIA ATTITUDE OF 4X4 DRIVERS CHURNING UP MUD AND REVVING THERE ENGINES IN A FRENZY OF ADRENALIN FUELED MADNESS! THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE I MEET OUT & ABOUT ARE QUIETLY ENJOYING THEIR OWN CHOSEN ACTIVITY. WHEN I PASS WALKERS IN MY 4X4 I ALWAYS GIVE THEM THE RIGHT OF WAY, AND WHEN THEY STAND TO ONE SIDE I OPEN MY WINDOW, SAY THANK YOU, AND OFTEN PASS THE TIME OF DAY WITH THEM, THE MAJORITY OF THEM MEET ME WITH A SMILE, AND ARE VERY PLEASANT PEOPLE. UNFORTUNATLY, THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO ARE VERY AGGRESSIVE, AND ABUSIVE, BUT THANKFULLY THEY ARE THE MINORITY. I UNDERSTAND THAT THERE WILL ALWAYS BE THE BAD ELEMENT IN EVERY WALK OF LIFE, AND THERE ARE DRIVERS WHO WILL GO OUT AND BE AS ABUSIVE AS SOME OF THE WALKERS, THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO SPOIL THINGS FOR EVERY ONE ELSE. I WOULD LIKE TO INVITE ANYONE WHO ISN’T SURE OF WHAT 4X4 DRIVERS ACTUALLY DO, TO GET IN TOUCH WITH ONE OF THE MANY OFF ROAD CLUBS IN THE AREA AND FIND OUT MORE. WHEN WE GO OUT GREENLANING WE GO OUT IN SMALL GROUPS, AND DO NEARLY ALL THE DRIVING IN BOTTOM GEAR, AND ON TICKOVER. THIS MINIMISES THE NOISE, PREVENTS WHEELSPIN, AND THEREFORE PREVENTS DAMAGE. WE ARE ALWAYS COURTIOUS TO OTHER PEOPLE, AND TRY TO MAINTAIN A “LIVE & LET LIVE” ATTITUDE. WE LIVE IN A FREE DEMOCRACY, SO LETS NOT START DICTATING WHAT THE GENERAL PUBLIC CAN & CAN’T DO, JUST TO KEEP A MINORITY HAPPY.

Roger Harris
As with the Lake users this subject has been blown out of all proportion.I am chairman of the Cumbria group of the Trail Riders Fellowship and we are responsible people who ride with consideration for other users of these lanes. Our code of conduct states that we ride only fully silenced road legal machines and that we stop for horses and walkers, most of whom are friendly towards us and often stop for a chat.A total ban on our activity would be most unfair and ai don't think that it would work anyway!

Janice Wells
Following on from what Nick Halliwell said about ramblers also causing damage in the lakes, I think I am right in saying that at present parts of Helvellyn are under repair due to the damage caused by ramblers. This has involved air lifting machinary up to Helvellyn to repair the paths where the damage has been caused. Who is paying for all this?? I doubt the ramblers that caused it. I am not anti rambler, in fact on the odd occassion that I go green laning I have found the majority are very nice people who will stop and exchange pleasentries and in some cases even open and close the gates for us. It is the minority that cause bad feelings between us and them. If only 5% of the area is used by motorised vehicles then the remaining 95% is ample for the ramblers, or are they just being utterly selfish in wanting all 100%. What if ramblers neede halp or assitance up in the hills, would they turn down help from the emergency services or indeed the public just because they arrive in a 4x4? Probably not. We should all be able to live and enjoy the beauty of the countryside together, not arguing who has more right over what was never owned by one individual anyway

Phil Griffiths
As a born and bred Lakelander I find the actions of the LDNPA and the Fiends (not a spelling mistake) of the Lake District deeply ironic. Despite Brian Jones view that a Trail bikes and 4x4’s are an offensive sight in the Lakes the only group of people to that offend myself and my family are walkers. Living near a “greenlane” does mean I hear motorbikes (though never 4x4s) but this is a rare occurrence. BUT I’ve never had a motorbike of 4x4 come barging through our fences garden. This talent is something obviously unique to walkers. Indeed I almost laughed the last time I found a group of walkers using our garden bench as a picnic spot proudly displaying their “Ramblers Association” T-shirts!!! And no there isn’t a right of way across our land. Another major flaw in the LDNPA proposal is that essentially they are banning certain disabled people from the fells. I am not disabled however both 4x4 clubs of which I am member operate a scheme where disabled people can be taken to places not normally accessible.

The fact that the Friends of the Lake District and the LDNPA wants to place a ban which stops this kind of activity is surely a sign of their narrow mindedness.

Martyn Bell
Like many of the other comments here FoLD and LDNP need to learn not to be selfish. We only want to drive on roads, if walkers dont like this then they should stick to the footpaths. From my experience of greenlaning most walkers are friendly and will say hello or open a gate for you and are more interested than objectional, there are of course a minority who give dirty looks - but I still say hello.

Chris Dutton
After watching this programme last night, the only logical conclusion was that reached by the presenter - surely if only 5% of the Lake District is accessible to off road vehicles, then all walks of life (walkers, motorcyclists, horse riders, 4-wheeled vehicles) should be able to share the space available without conflict.


Mark Taylforth
Trail bikes leave a minimal amount of damage behind. For those walkers who object to bikes in the countryside why don't they use any of the hundreds of paths available rather than green lanes for walking on. How can they and the National Park Authority suddenly decide to try and close these roads that have been used for hundreds of years? What is the difference between green lanes and paved roads other than the latter has been proerly maintained whilst green lanes haven't? On the question of damage how do the walkers respond when they are accused of causing major damage to the popular footpaths.

As a walker and biker i can't undersatnd the selfish nature of people like Brian Jones who obviously have decided that they cannot share such a vast area and feel that they have more rights than anyone else to enjoy the countryside. He has no more right to walk on a green lane than bikers do to ride on them. If he and the LDNP get their way what alternative are they thinkuing of offering to trail bikers? There should be a debate on this important issue.

Barbara Cartwright
THE NATIONAL PARK AUTHORITY WILL NOT BE HAPPY UNTIL THERE ARE NO 'TOURISTS' IN TEH LAKE DISTRICT. THEIE JOB WILL BE SO EASY ONCE THE GENERAL PUBLIC ARE NOT ALLOWED IN. WE HAVE BEEN FIGHTING THE 10 MPH ON WINDERMERE NOW FOR OVER TEN YEARS AND THE NATIONAL PARK HAVE TAKEN THE ATTITUDE, ' ITS OUR PARK AND YOU CAN'T PLAY IN IT'. DEMOCRACY IS DEAD IN THE LAKE DISTRICT NATIONAL PARK - WE CANNOT EVEN GET THEM TO DISCUSS A MANAGEMENT PLAN - SO TGHE BEST OF LUCK TO THE BIKERS AND 4X4 DRIVERS - WE KNOW ALL ABOUT THE NARROW MINDNESS OF THE FRIENDS OF THE LAKE DISTRICT. WE CLASS OURSELVES AS FRIENDS - WE HAVE BEEN BOOSTING THE ECON0MY OF THE LAKE DISTRICT FOR OVER 30 YEARS ALONG WITH MANY OF OUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY. I HATE TO BE PESSIMISTIC BUT I DON'T BELIEVE THE NATIONAL PARK WILL GET INTO DISCUSSION WITH ANY GROUP ONCE THEY HAVE DECIDED ON THEIR COURSE OF ACTION.

Ian Cartwright
Friends of the Lake District and the LDNPA have joined forces to effectively close an area of our countryside that should be available to all (as stated by H.M.the Queen in one of Her speeches). Rather than manage the situation they simply 'ban' it using undemocratic powers to suit their own ends. A much broader investigation of their activities should be carried out and I am sure it will prove a misuse of political e.g. how did the 10 m.p.h. speed limit on Windermere become Law when the initial public notice for the byelaw change (over 10yrs ago) was objected to by more than four times the numbers of supporters? By rights it should have ended there. Now they are targeting the off-roaders. A Managed solution is always possible if you are prepared to compromise - these, non elected bureaucrats are not prepared to do this.

manuel bernardez
what about pleople who can not walk like myself.Ramblers make me sick - all they care is about themselves.

Kevin Sambells
Green lanes are classed as a highway and both 4x4's and walkers can both enjoy their hobbies. 4x4ing is the biggest adralin rush ive ever had and to see the countryside at its best sitting in a tall veichle looking over all over the valleys and different areas that you dont see in a town or a city.

mark guest
The main problem in the lake district is caused by the so called friends of the lake district, who if you were to ask almost anybody who was born and lives in the lake district are not friends but a bunch of off comers who given there way would do away with sheep wall anything that stops them walking anywhere they please. Also if you want to see real damage go to the top of helvellyn and there is a footpath there so wide it can be seen from space, and it was caused entirely by walkers. The lake district should be there for all who wish to use it but mostly for those that live there not just visit

David Barker
Once again intolerance rears its ugly head.As your programme correctly stated only a small percentage of the rights of way in the Lake District have legal vehichular access but some people would deny others their legal right to use them.As to the damage issue one only has to look at any popular footpath to see the damage done by thousands of walkers,should they be banned also.

Paul Savage
A road is a road, wether it is the M6 going over shap or a RUPP (Road Used as a Public Path)alongside a field. Ramblers should bear in mind that there are a lot more footpath miles in the UK than RUPP miles, if they don't want to be botherd by vehicle noise, don't walk on a road!

Simon Bracewell
This is another example of the LDNPA and the 'Friends of the lake district' trying to restrict motorised recreation within the national park. They seem to have managed to effectively ban the pursuit of motorised watersports on windermere as of 2005 and now are turning their eyes to motorised sports that take place on land and are enjoyed by many. Given another 5-10 years and they will have us getting onto horse-drawn carriages at Kendal in order to even enter the national park. It is important to note that this is a national park provided for the enjoyment of all and that has to include any minorities be they trail riders or water skiers.

Nick Helliwell
Efforts should be made to preserve historic vehicular rights of way in the countryside. If LDNP and "ramblers" get their way here, where will they stop? I have driven many of the "green lanes" in the lake district, all of which are legally roads... maybe they do not look like roads to most walkers, but they are. Thousands of miles of footpaths are available to walk upon. It seems very selfish of ramblers to want the countryside to themselves. Also, look at the damage walkers can do to the countryside... great scars up Helvellyn and Striding Edge.



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