Here at The Green Lane Association, we believe that access to the countryside should be for all, without prejudice to method of travel, or physical, sensory, mental, cognitive, developmental, or intellectual challenges faced by users.
Recreation and time spent outdoors is undeniably good for both physical and mental health. Since Covid struck and the country faced a lockdown situation, the benefits of access to outdoor green spaces has probably never been felt so acutely by so many. Acknowledging this vital importance to human health, the government put measures in place to protect our rights and need to spend time outdoors despite huge challenges during that time.
While we all faced a communal challenge during Covid, one in five people in the UK face daily barriers to various activities due to some form of disability. This can often be particularly felt when wishing to access our country’s more remote areas.
The UK is full of beautiful hills, valleys, mountains, and lakes that may feel inaccessible to some due to physical barriers to their isolated locations. Others may find distance a challenge due to fatigue, the need to carry medical equipment, or sensory overload when visiting tourist hotspots full of crowds and activity.
Challenges that affect 20% of our population can vary hugely from one person to the next, and this can often lead to missed opportunities to experience the beauty of the UK’s great outdoors, but The Green Lane Association believe that access really should be for all where possible.
Using our nation’s network of ancient unsurfaced roads from the comfort of a vehicle can make stunning vistas, historical sites, and beautiful green spaces accessible to those who may well believe that the rights of way network for foot, cycle and horse traffic offers little opportunity to them.
For the purposes of countryside legislation, motorised use is classed as outdoor recreation and some aspects of motor vehicle use are now part of our cultural heritage, this is therefore something that public authorities are obliged to consider conserving.
Our local authorities have a duty to maintain rights of way without prejudice to any user type and under discrimination laws cannot disadvantage those who face physical or cognitive challenges to a legal and beneficial activity.
Green laning is unique in being an activity that allows complete independence. Unlike many outdoor activities that may require specialist equipment, supervision, or restrict use to purpose-made accessible areas, use of byways either as a driver of your own vehicle, or passenger in another, is outwardly the same for all.
Unfortunately, byways open to all traffic (BOATs) have historically faced many closures and now make up only around 3% of the rights of way network in the UK. The Green Lane Association work to protect these vital resources for the benefit of all. No other right of way class affords access to as many user groups or opportunities for those who cannot safely access footpaths or bridleways, and therefore the countryside, without vehicular support. This precious resource is deserving of our protection as are the rights of those who use them, and by proxy the numerous mental and physical health benefits that arise from their use for recreational purposes, particularly for those with additional needs.
As a national organisation, we offer our members access to all the information they need to enjoy the remaining network of unsurfaced public roads in the UK. In addition to the only green lane route planning tool in existence that covers the whole country in one place (Trailwise2) we offer the support of reps in each county, and local area social media groups in each region to help members meet other likeminded people. We also encourage physical group outings and attendance of events organised using the resources we make available. For more information contact our Accessibility Team at
Highways Act 1980: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/66/contents
Highways Act Section 130: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1980/66/section/130