Off Road Vehicles

The use of recreational vehicles (4x4s, trail bikes and quad bikes) in the countryside has become a popular pastime; both for individuals and tourism businesses. Issues concerning illegal access, landscape damage and behaviour offensive to other countryside users has cause some concern

A Working Group has been set up in the High Furness area of South Lakeland concerning ‘Inappropriate and Illegal use of the Countryside by Motor Vehicles’. For more information please contact the Parish Clerk.

What is legal and what is illegal use of motor vehicles in the countryside?

It is perfectly legal to drive a motor vehicle on some unsurfaced routes. These routes are often referred to collectively as ‘green roads’, but more formally they are known as ‘Byways Open To All Traffic’ (BOATs), ‘Unsurfaced County Roads’ (UCRs), or ‘Other Routes with Public Access’ (ORPAs). These are often finger posted as ‘Public Ways’ in Cumbria and the National Park. All unsurfaced routes with vehicular access are subject to exactly the same laws as for surfaced roads, so all vehicles must be road-legal, that is, taxed and insured, with MOT’s if appropriate, and with visible and correctly sized number plates. Colton Parish has 8 ‘green roads’. It is illegal (a criminal offence) to drive or ride a motor-vehicle on any other land or right-of-way without permission from the landowner.

The Lake District National Park and Cumbria County Council both have useful information on green road driving and legal routes.

Two key concerns have arisen from ‘off-road’ activity within the parish:

  1. In the past few years, the incidence of illegal off-road activity (on illegal tracks and excursions onto sensitive fell sides) has increased markedly, along with bad, sometimes threatening behaviour to other recreational users and land-owners. If you see such behaviour we encourage you to report it.
  2. Damage to green roads in Colton Parish, and the need for maintenance and repair: This is now so severe that some are impassable for farmers accessing their stock, directly affecting local livelihoods. Cumbria County Council Highways have responsibility for repair, but their limited funds mean that these roads are extremely low priority. However, the Colton Green Roads Pilot Working Group has surveyed some of the routes and funding was found for repairs to one of them: High Ickenthwaite to Nibthwaite Grange (Bletherbarrow Lane) (U5064). This was carried out in 2013 as pilot study, and made a huge improvement. However, since then, no further work has been done, nor has the planned monitoring been carried out

Which are the legal routes with vehicular access in Colton Parish?

There are 8 legal routes with vehicular access in Colton Parish: 7 Unclassified Country Roads (UCRs) and 1 By-way Open to All Traffic (BOAT):

  1. High Nibthwaite to Low Parkamoor (U5051) – this is a ‘no through road’ which ends at High Parkamoor – there is no access into Grizedale Forest.
  2. Colton Church to Moss Wood (BOAT/UCR U5203)
  3. Force Mills to Thwaite Moss (U5062)
  4. Colton Church to Old Hall Lane, Bouth (U5204)
  5. Hulleter to Low Hay Bridge (U5216)
  6. High Ickenthwaite to Nibthwaite Grange (Bletherbarrow Lane) (U5064)
  7. High Ickenthwaite to Oxen Park (Peg Lane) (U5213)
  8. The Strands, Rusland Pool – (summer only – a Traffic Regulation Order operates between Oct and May) (U5566)

What constitutes illegal activity?

Illegal activity includes any excursion off the above routes onto footpaths, bridleways, fields and fellsides, without the landowner’s permission. It also includes the use of motor vehicles on legal routes, where the vehicles are not road-legal (e.g. no number-plates or obscured number-plates).

How do I report illegal activity and/or bad behaviour?

Immediate reporting: Ring 101. To get through to the local police, select option 4 and then extension 1511 or 5319. Please report location and get number plates and descriptions if possible, without placing yourself in danger. If you can safely get pictures, then do.

Later reporting; Giving full details of the incident to the police and the National Park. These incidents will be followed up by the police, if sufficient information given, and will also be logged on the Park’s Trails Register. Please try to send the following information:

  • Date and time
  • Location description and Grid Reference if possible
  • Whether Footpath, Bridleway, Fellside, route with Traffic Regulation Order, or Other
  • Vehicle description, including type, make and model if possible
  • Vehicle Registration
  • If motorbike, colour of rider’s crash helmet and clothing.
  • Whether registration plate displayed and whether it was clean and visible
  • Description of circumstances and behaviour

Emails with the above information should be sent via this link to the National Park, the Police and copied to the Parish Clerk

Skip to content