Newlands Lane, Wiltshire
The highway authority had no budget to maintain the lane, so permission was given to open up the lane and cut back the overgrowth to allow the sun to dry out the wet sections. Additionally, at the lowest point, the drainage ditches had become blocked, so these needed clearing out. Opening up blocked sections of the culvert and clearing out silted up sections of the ditches helped water to flow again. Rubble was used to fill in the very soft section, mainly silt run off from the hill behind. The result improved access for all users.
Burledge Lane, Bath and North East Somerset
The council wanted to permanently TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) a Byway because illegal off roaders were damaging the surrounding land and an ancient monument. Negotiations with the Council, Police and other users on site managed to achieve three open weekends a year written into the TRO. Result: We created a more flexible TRO, although this could have been avoided altogether if selfish individuals hadn’t had acted illegally and driven off the highway.
You can find out when the open days are here:
Stony Lane, Bath and North East Somerset
This short byway had become damaged by water and was pretty much impossible to navigate except by the most agile of walkers. The local parish wanted to route repaired so all users could once again use it. Working with the rights of way department and the local parish, the Green Lane Association, the TRF, and local users will work together to divert water away from the lane and improve sections that have been water damaged. In the end, the route was completely regraded and the angle of the extremely steep section at the bottom improved.
Waymarking Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire
SPTA is the largest military training area and collection of range complexes in the United Kingdom. SPTA covers one ninth of the county of Wiltshire (94,000 acres) and has some 300 miles of public rights of way, approximately 70 miles of which are in range danger areas, to which access is denied when the ranges are active. The Plain can be very difficult to navigate as not all tracks are shown on Ordnance Survey maps. To make things even more difficult, MoD has inserted some 200 miles of Mendip stone tracks to protect the SSSI and they are not differentiated from unsurfaced tracks on OS maps.
The brief was simple – to waymark Salisbury Plain for the benefit of all users and also for the soldiers using SPTA on a daily basis so they are aware of where civilians have access. The project was enormous. Salisbury Plain covers an area the size of the Isle of Wight. The project was commended by Wiltshire Rights of Way, stating that the project would never had happened without volunteers. The MOD also awarded the Green Lane Association project leader a Sanctuary runner up Award in the Individual Achievement category – quite a rarity for a civilian. The project was completed in 2017 after running for nine years, covering two counties, and all classes of rights of way, where we inserted, repaired or replaced more than 1600 rights of way signs and way marks on the Plain on 50 working days. Volunteers have included Green Lane Association members, TRF members, equestrians, and other interested parties – all co-ordinated by our Wiltshire rep.
A man goes into a pub with a frog growing out of the top of his head. The barman says ‘What happened there then?’ and the frog says ‘Well, it started as a wart on my foot...’
And so, in a similarly unexpected fashion and following a small idea about getting together some people interested in Surrey’s byways, I found myself on the weekend of the 19th May, standing in one of the county’s premier byways barbecuing bacon sandwiches adjacent to mounted police, two trail bike police, the Forestry Commission, the Trail Riders Fellowship, National Trust Rangers, the Mole Valley Rural Crime Unit, Surrey County Highways and RoW Officers, plus various Green Lane Association members, as we engaged with the public about responsible byway use. And it started as a wart of an idea...
Initially just a thought I suggested after a byways access committee meeting, the local Rural Crimes policing unit really took it on as part of their county wide ‘Dragnet’ operation and as a result a good number of user groups quickly expressed an interest. We sent out three teams to three locations on what I had expected to be heavily trafficked sites, with sandwiches and drinks available at two of them to try and create a bit of positive engagement – to give back to the various user communities as well as the more usual ’nanny’ behaviour or helping people stay on the straight and narrow.
The Frensham site hosted by Gareth Jex had a lot of interest, with many walkers and horse riders stopping to chat. At Wolvern’s Lane we were mainly dealing with mountain bikers and trail riders who stopped for long talks with the Forestry and TRF. We did not see a single recreational 4x4 user – which is disappointing but I guess the luck of the draw.
The Sheepwalk Lane guys had pretty much only themselves for company and I am not sure they enjoyed it! Sorry lads, but I have often met miscreants there so there must have been something good on TV that day . A mixed bag, but overall I am confident of the following results:
• Relationships between the various user groups strengthened and developed. We (almost) all had a jolly good day out!
• Very high ranking police officers on site for some or all of the day with resolutions to support Byway use and put rural crime issues on the agenda
• Great PR opportunities generated for each group present and across the media
• Good numbers of bikers of all types engaged and byway use discussed, similarly large numbers of walkers.
• Plans made for further events including night time sessions to actively pursue the off-roaders who cause damage on a regular basis
• 70+ bacon sandwiches given out (possibly the most important statistic!)
Next year, just two locations and perhaps a Saturday afternoon and evening time slot might produce more contact than the Sunday morning did, but we all left with positive vibes and lots of good will between us. Best of all, the assurance that the authorities are behind us in the cause of promoting great Green Lane use and they know we all mean business.
Stuart Boreham, Surrey Rep
Church Lane, Clopton
Church Lane is an unsurfaced unclassified road (UCR) in Clopton, Suffolk, which had been blocked by a landowner using concrete blocks. The blocks were set at a width which prevented 4x4s and similar vehicles from accessing the lane, but allowed motor cycles and horses to pass along it.
Local Green Lane Association representatives had reported the obstruction to the Highway Authority, Suffolk County Council, and they had approached the landowner who refused to remove the width restriction. He argued that a 19th Century OS map showed a width (if scaled up) which was only sufficient to allow a horse and cart to pass.
The Highway Authority had admitted that the lane had vehicular rights, but were minded to agree a width of 1.72 metres despite the much greater physical width between the hedges and boundaries of the lane.
The Green Lane Association provided evidence to the Authority that a typical Suffolk Farm wagon was wider than the landowner was claiming, and obtained a statement from Ordnance Survey that it isn’t possible to determine road widths by simply scaling from old maps.
Although the Highways Act 1981 places a statutory duty on the HA to protect and assert the rights of all users (S130), the procedure for enforcing the removal of an obstruction is less straightforward if the road is a UCR rather than a Byway. From the same act S150 gives the right for a user to apply to a Magistrates Court for an order requiring the HA to remove an obstruction from a Byway (or any Right of Way), but this procedure doesn’t apply to public roads which aren’t on the Definitive Map as rights of way.
The lack of a robust enforcement policy by Suffolk CC allowed the landowner to ignore the law and although at one stage the concrete blocks were moved, they were still left in such a position as to form an unacceptable width restriction.
The Green Lane Association finally instructed a solicitor to write to the Authority requesting that they arrange for the obstruction to be removed, but little action was taken and the restriction remained. We therefore took Counsel’s advice and our solicitor prepared to take enforcement action in the High Court using the procedure for Judicial Review. A judge would be asked to review the legality of the Authority’s decision to allow the obstruction to remain. A further solicitor’s letter to the Highway Authority, accompanied by a Freedom of Information Request for evidential information eventually led to a removal of the obstructions without the need for High Court action.
This case illustrates the importance of a user group like the Green Lane Association being able to obtain specialist legal advice, and having the financial ‘clout’ to take councils or landowners to court where necessary. Your annual subscription to the Green Lane Association helps to keep our Fighting Fund topped up and enables us to take robust legal action in cases where normal local negotiations have failed.
West Yorkshire, Ramsden Road, Holme Valley
On 22 November 2018 an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order was placed on Ramsden Road (TW2 UID SE1105-05) by Kirklees Council for a period of 18 months. This ETRO has been revoked as of 25 January 2019 after Kirklees came under legal pressure from The Green Lane Association and other user groups. Kirklees have acknowledged that there were flaws in the making of the order. However it did have the positive effect of “flushing out anyone with an interest in the road” and this resulted in a well attended public meeting held in Holmfirth on 22 January 2019.
Ramsden Road public meeting
As a result of this TRO, a public meeting was held and this was well attended with all user groups represented, along with local residents and Kirklees councillors. The general feel of the meeting was that this route should be kept open to all users, although there is significant repair work required and off the back of the meeting a new user group is to be formed as a collective of all user groups and stakeholders. This group is to be called ‘Friends of Ramsden Road’ and will be set up by Kirklees in the very near future..
This, we see as positive and now gives the opportunity for The Green Lane Association and other user groups to engage with Kirklees in the ongoing maintenance and management of this route. There has also been expressed desire for Kirklees to carry this process forward in the future to include all rights of way in their area.
The repairs to Ramsden Road will involve significant costs, particularly since the feeling was that drainage issues to deal with water run off will need to be addressed in order to provide a sustainable surface in the long term. Like most local authorities in these times, Kirklees are cash strapped, so The Green Lane Association and other groups have committed to do what we can to support them. This may well include work parties in the future and we would request that everyone who can helps with this when the time comes.
Some residents expressed concern at off-piste activity in the area, particularly at night and we have assured them of our continued support in trying to curb this. If anyone witnesses illegal activity we would urge you to contact me at
Snape Rake Lane, Lancashire
A few months back I was approached by the Lancashire Rights of Way officer to help do some repairs on a UCR called Snape Rake Lane. There were two reasons for this:
1 The Green Lane Association had helped in years gone by with repairs
2 Highways were too busy and if no repairs were done, there was a good possibility that vehicle rights could be lost to a TRO.
So I arranged a site visit to discuss what was required from us, and what the council would do. Once on site it was easy to see what had occurred due to a ‘bomb hole’ in the road with poor drainage. A local equestrian school were on average doing three trips a day along the road and were now travelling off-piste to the side, as horses had been getting stuck in the mud. Needless to say, the land owner wasn’t very happy about the state of the road, but understood the road carried rights for all users (a UCR, or ORPA if you prefer the OS term).
At the local Green Lane Association meeting, volunteers were requested to help provide some ‘man’ power and vehicles, and the council would provide a local contractor to fill the hole in with stone, sort a run off drainage system and do repairs to some steps on the foot bridge. Our main priority was to discourage any further off piste activity by users.
I also contacted a few local 4x4 groups who were more than willing to help. These were:
Northern Monkey 4x4
Red Rose LRC
Blackpool and Flyde LRC
The day started by collecting from a local council yard tree stumps and materials then taking them to Snape Rake Lane. The land owner and his wife, Mr & Mrs Fitzherbert-Brockholes, turned up on-site in the morning and were overwhelmed by the response of volunteers willing to give their day up to help maintain a road open to all users. The hole was filled in and a French drain installed. We had approximately 20 people, 10 vehicles and 2 trailers on-site. We winched and man handled stuff into position making barricades to prevent illegal off-piste use.
It had been a very wet week previous to repairs and was still muddy around the area but the many hands made it easy work for us all. Many thanks to everyone that gave up their time.
Dean Spencer, Lancashire rep
Hole in the Wall, Monmouthshire
Limekiln as its generally known, or Chapel Hill Road as it’s officially known, or Hole in the Wall by local laners, is a classic green lane in Tintern in the Wye Valley in Monmouthshire. It rises uphill in a South Westerly direction and starts quite close to the popular Tintern Abbey ruins. The lane is a favorite with MPV users, both local and from further afield. It is a challenging lane noted for the slippery rock steps half way up. It is sometimes also known as Coldwell Lane. Coldwell being the stream that is formed off the local land and runs alongside the lane down into the river Wye at Tintern.
A minor landslip had occurred in the sunken part of the lane approximately two thirds of the way up and close to the start of the Coldwell stream. Water running off and under the adjacent land appeared to have eroded the bank and expose tree roots. Several tonnes of soil with a few small trees had slipped into the lane creating a blockage. With the high banks and fields on either side there was no alternative route. The lane surface in the area was also quite muddy and various ruts had been formed by passing traffic.
I first became aware of the issue on the 19th January when a post was put up on the TRF Trail Facebook page by Dean Allen reporting the road was closed. Further research indicated the lane had been closed since a council engineer’s inspection on the 31st Dec 2018. A six-week temporary traffic regulation order came into force on the 30th Jan 2019.
From other Facebook posts it appeared the local Green Lane Association rep John Askew was already aware of the issue. Having recently joined the Green Lane Association in December, I decided to make contact with John and see what help I may be able to provide. It was evident that John had good links with Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) as he had mapped the county lanes by studying council documents. He had also been trained by them in the use of a chainsaw. A good man to know! John had made contact with the engineer in charge and together had visited the site to establish what needed doing. Separately Rod Jones a member of West Glos and Forest of Dean motorcycle club, and also a TRF member had been chivvying the council to make progress. Rod being this year’s Clerk of the Course for the Wyegate long distance trial knew that the lane was a key feature of this classic event. At least one and sometimes three sections are marked out on the lane. I had ridden the lane a few times both up and down and was entered in last year’s Wyegate Long Distance Trials but couldn’t make the rescheduled date. The original date was cancelled due to the heavy snow at the time. If I wanted to ride Limekiln in the Wyegate this year I needed to do something to help get it open again. The trial being scheduled for the end of April 2019.
On the 13th Feb 2019 the local newspaper, the Monmouthshire Beacon, ran an article reporting that the landowner (on the landslip side) had been told by Monmouthshire County Council that they would pass the bill for the repair onto them. In a later edition letters were published from locals complaining about the use of the lane by MPVs (Mechanically Propelled Vehicle). John Askew contacted the reporter and managed to get a balanced reply published putting the motorised green lane user’s perspective the following week.
As people started to offer help in reply to additional information I had posted on the TRF Trial Facebook page I decided to get more involved.
From reading previous TRF and the Green Lane Association activity in helping conserve green lanes I realised there was a risk the council would, or could, do little or nothing. Or it would take a long time to repair the lane, MCC like most councils being strapped for cash and having more pressing priorities. Further still, there were noises of a campaign to challenge the green road status of this lane.
The Green Lane Association arranged a groundworks contractor to visit the site and quote for the repair work. I thought it worthwhile getting a competitive quote and a new South Wales TRF member offered and did quote for the work. The Green Lane Association ultimately stayed with their contractor, A P Price, who they had previously recruited to repair a green lane in in North Wales. The council’s requirement for £5m public liability insurance on highways limited who could do the work.
Monmouthshire County Council agreed to provide the stone needed to grade the muddy part of the lane.
At about the same time the Green Lane Association asked if the TRF would like to go halves with the repair cost. Reading the conversation section of the TRF website led me to think that we could do this by raising funds via the Just Giving site and the TRF’s matched funding scheme. I set about compiling the Just Giving page and was staggered to have the required £750 in just over 24hrs from starting it. I promoted it on the TRF Trail and local TRF group Facebook pages as well as through West Glos and Forest of Dean motorcycle club. A couple of great donations from Bristol TRF and WG&FDMCC and in total 44 donations from the trail riding community meant the fund raising was in a good place. I submitted the application for matched funding to Dave Carling the TRF Conservation Director and he replied that this is just the sort of initiative that the scheme was set up for.
The Green Lane Association/Treadlightly footed half the contractor’s cost and the TRF members and West Glos and Forest of Dean MCC the other half.
A date was set for the beginning of March to conduct the repair work. Fortunately the landowners on both sides trimmed the hedges unprompted a few days before, and a little further pruning in the lane provided the access needed for the machinery. The contractors were offered volunteer help but declined. This was probably no bad thing from a safety perspective as the lane is quite narrow and no wider than a dumper truck from the top down to the slip. It was also quite muddy at the slip and the machinery needed to move up and down the lane frequently to move the stone. However, many thanks to all those who did volunteer.
The stone was dropped at the top end of the lane and the contractors moved in to start the repair on Friday 1st March. The stone had been dropped right at the lane entrance, so the contractors had to clear a path through the stone to get their machinery onto the lane. They used a digger to level the lane and distribute the land slip soil and then back filled the uneven and softer parts of the lane with the stone using a dumper. They also removed the remains of the tree stumps that had slipped into the lane. The landowner recruited labour to trim the trees on the North side in preparation for re-fencing at some future point.
The bank along the North side of the lane at the section of the sunken part of the route remains susceptible to water erosion. It is hoped that cutting the trees back at this time of year will promote root growth and help to bind the bank soil.
The work by the contractor took three days to complete and, on the 9th March, just nine weeks after the original slip the road closed signs had been removed and the lane reopened after a council inspection.
Great work by all concerned and another example of motor vehicle user groups working together to keep green lanes open.
Kelvin Varney, TRF & Green Lane Association,
John Askew, Monmouthshire rep
These types of projects are only possible with the money we raise from your membership fees. In this day and age, councils have little money to spend on the minor road network and, if we are to keep some of our best lanes open, then we need to dig deep. Thanks to all of you who made this project possible – that’s each of you reading this! We really appreciate your support.
Opening up Catmere End, Essex
This Byway has been un-driveable for over ten years. TWUID: 4939-04
The village end of this Byway down to the footpath from it, was opened up by the Friends of Flitch Way P3 Group just before Christmas 2018. Back in early January Ed AJ Matthews, Essex Rep for ATuk and Green Lane Association Members, Andrew Metters, Douglas Fields and myself spent seven hours there opening the rest of the Byway for all users. Our vehicles were the first that have been able to get up there for many years. Big thanks went to Doug’s wife for making us a beef stew and dumplings and to Doug for heating it up for lunch. Apart from one moaner (who it was plain had lost his ski’s but not his ski poles), everyone else who came across us in the lane were very grateful for our efforts, which goes a long way to making it all worthwhile and a good day.
Today (23rd February) was the first chance I have had to get back there to inspect it, and I’m pleased to say those 4x4’s that I know have been using it have left virtually no visible impression on the byway. While in the village, I managed to speak to a few locals and have promised to check back and keep an eye on it.
Robert Tongue, Essex rep
Water Break Its Neck, Powys
You will not believe how much work Powys have done on Water Break its Neck. They have regraded a long section and re made that really nice ford on a bend. The Green Lane Association has donated £2,500 toward this which includes contributions from North Somerset LRC. Thanks ‘guys’.
The picture above show what was the slide slope – which was previously impassible. There are now four fences alongside it. There is a section to the north that is downright dangerous, these holes will soon be under water. You can see the stone washed out of the road! This still needing working on.
The September 2018 P-BUG meeting was followed by a visit to WBIN to view the works done. They have repaired or graded what must be over 2 miles to a very high standard. The Ranger 4x4 transporting us had trouble on a grassy section which confirmed several sections still need further work, which they plan to deal with and consequently we have agreed it would be unwise to open it before the spring.
A temporary TRO has now been imposed on it from 22nd November 2018 until 21st May 2019 to allow for repairs to bed in and for works to be completed.
Old Coach Road, Cumbria
In 2016 Storm Desmond devastated the Lake District including the Old Coach Road near Keswick. It was a low priority for repairs, so the Green Lane Association committed £5,000 towards fixing the storm damage. The TRF also put £5,000 in the pot. An estimated further £10,000 was required and was sought elsewhere. The works were co-ordinated by local TRF member Steve Stout. Anyone who has driven Gatescarth Pass may well have met him as he’s often there checking permits
The start date for the first phase of the repairs was 14th May 2018 through to 18th May 2018. All of the paperwork was submitted to CCC Highways and the works agreed. This first phase was to clear the drainage gully running down the majority of the road edge. The spoil to be laid on the uphill side where possible or further away from the road edge so as not to build up a deeper edge than is already there at the moment.
We asked Highways for some roadworks signs for either end of the lane and posted out some signage onto the various gates explaining the works to be undertaken at this stage.
The drainage repairs were completed by Dan Birkett Construction, who are based in St John’s in the Vale and are very experienced in upland drainage repairs. All construction paperwork was done by Steven Mattinson. We made the final site visit in April to see the current situation of the road, and it hadn’t changed since the original survey was completed earlier in the year. The SSSI area was specifically highlighted to the contractor.
As of 14th May 2018, we started working all week with a digger to get the gully cleared so that water would flow off the lane surface. On the 19/20 May, we had a volunteer work party consisting jointly of the Green Lane Association, TRF and Cumbria Soaring Club members. Lots of stone was moved on the road, and good progress was made.
The diggers spent a further week up there later in the summer, so now there is a new surface over Hausewell Brow along with replacement culverts. It also included rebuilding the missing sections of the gully that runs the length of the lane.
Hopefully the repairs will hold together for a long while to come.