The use of motor vehicles on the unsurfaced routes and ‘green lanes’ of the North York Moors is a source of great concern for residents and visitors alike because of the potential damage to the environment, as well as noise and conflict with other users. Green lane driving needs to be done responsibly and legally, and the police have prosecuted trail riders and 4x4 drivers where they are using non-road legal vehicles, or are in places they should not be. To avoid this happening to you, follow this advice.
1. Use only motor vehicular rights of way. Byways open to all traffic have proven rights for motor vehicles, and routes listed only as unsurfaced unclassified roads (UUR) have possible, but unproven, rights for motor vehicles. It is illegal to ride on footpaths and bridleways or across open land. The use of some routes has been suspended by Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs). You must obey Highways signs showing limitations on use.
2. Be aware of how the weather and seasons affect routes. Exercise restraint in the use of unsealed routes after heavy rainfall, as this is when damage to vegetation and soft surfaces is most likely. Softer areas are not just more vulnerable to damage but are also often very important habitats such as blanket bog and wet flushes.
3. Travel at a quiet and unobtrusive pace. Travel slowly and in small groups (maximum six motorcycles or four 4x4s per group). Remember that others are seeking peace and tranquillity, and a sense of wildness away from motor traffic. Make sure you have enough time to get back before dark because noise and lights are more likely to disturb wildlife and residents at night.
4. Be courteous and respect other users. Take great care when passing horses, cyclists and walkers, and be prepared to stop your engine. Leave gates as you find them, and take special care near livestock.
5. Keep to the defined track. There is no public right to drive on common land or moorland. The North York Moors is an important habitat for wildlife. Many breeding birds nest on the ground and so are particularly vulnerable to disturbance. Cutting off corners leads to severe erosion problems. Features close to a track, such as old mine workings and spoil heaps are often important habitats or historical features – they are not playgrounds.
6. Make sure that you and your vehicle are fully road-legal. Byways and UURs are subject to the same laws as surfaced roads. That means you need insurance, road tax, MOT, valid driving licence, visible number plate, road legal tyres and exhaust.
The management of Unsurfaced Unclassified Roads (UURs) within the National Park is the responsibility of North Yorkshire County Council’s Countryside Access Service. Should you encounter any issues whilst out enjoying the UUR network with the National Park, you can report these by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling the NYCC helpdesk on 01609 780780.
You can check for current TROs on the North Yorkshire County Council website
Byways Open to All Traffic
There are very few Byways Open to All Traffic in the North York Moors. The longest - Hambleton Drove Road - crossing SSI and SPA moorland has a permanent TRO closing it to motor vehicles. You can see the order details here and the map here.
Forest stage car rallies and motorcycle trials have been held in the North York Moors for so many years that they have become a local tradition. In fact, hill climbs were a spectator sport here in the 1920s. Each year several car rallies and motorcycle events take place in the National Park. We work closely with organisers and the motorsport governing bodies to minimise the impact of events and to avoid sensitive locations.
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