Greenlanes are seeing a heightened level of policing as the UK cautiously comes out of lockdown. And with more of us looking to escape to the countryside, there’s an extra risk of misconduct from a small minority of reckless drivers who spoil the reputation of responsible, peaceful greenlaners.
‘Police are preparing for a lot of extra activity. Some are quite concerned, so there will be extra vigilance,’ says Lauren Eaton, Communications Officer for the Green Lane Association.
Efforts are focused on those areas of England and Wales that have seen the most abuse, which typically includes off-piste driving, anti-social behaviour, or driving on lanes that have TROs (Traffic Regulation Orders) in force to help preserve them.
‘The area of Slaley Forest is being particularly heavily policed due to people flouting Covid laws and misusing the area,' advises Eaton. 'Ramsden Road is also being watched, and is going to have a PSPO [Public Spaces Protection Order] so drivers will require a permit on it.’ Three other nearby lanes under the jurisdiction of Kirklees Council will also be subject to the PSPO.
‘Ceriog Valley (Wayfarer and White Stones lanes) and the Wrexham area are also being heavily watched. White Stones has unfortunately been blocked at the moment, and Wrexham is known for attracting antisocial behaviour,’ says Eaton.
‘As always, Salisbury Plain is being heavily policed – but the police aren’t there to spoil anyone’s fun, just to keep people safe, and there haven’t been any major incidents [of greenlane abuse] there lately.’
Fortunately, most examples of greenlane abuse during the lockdown period have been ‘very minor and isolated,’ says Eaton. ‘Generally the vast majority of people have done the right thing and haven’t travelled, and overall it’s been quite a positive experience for us. Land owners have been telling me that walkers have been worse at flouting the rules – often they’re people who are new to the countryside. Greenlaners in general are more aware of the laws when it comes to rights of way and where they can go.’
Top 3 Tips from the Green Lane Association
1. Take supplies. Be self-sufficient to avoid having to go into towns for food. If you plan to use a campsites you’ll need to be self-contained, as their shared facilities are generally not available.
2. Avoid farms and other residential areas. Greenlanes that go close to people’s homes can normally be avoided. This reduces risk of confrontation, and makes social distancing easier.
3. Be extra respectful. Some locals will not be as welcoming as they normally would be. If people object to you being there, don’t rise to it and cause an unnecessary disturbance – just leave.
How far can I travel?
With ‘stay local’ rules in force, it hasn’t been obvious how far we’re allowed to travel when greenlaning.
‘There isn’t an easy answer to this,’ says Eaton. ‘We have made efforts to get some clarification but haven’t received it. Generally, we advise people to stay in an area they can comfortably get home from within a day. Public perception is not on the side of people who are travelling a major distance, and that’s something we have to be aware of as a minority group who aren’t always in the public favour.’ This enables travelling across county borders, and over the border between England and Wales. However, staying close to home is still advisable.
Campsites in England and Wales are now opening; campsites in Scotland are expected to start opening from Monday (April 26), although they are likely to still be restricted as to what facilities they are permitted to provide. Do phone ahead to check the regulations with your chosen campsites before making any plans.
You should not share a car with someone outside your support bubble, and the rule of six applies. This means that groups of more than six people are not allowed to meet outdoors, unless the group contains people from no more than two households. In other words, only two households can go greenlaning, unless your group is smaller than 6 people.
For other advice on how to go greenlaning legally in your Land Rover, see our Essential Guide to Greenlaning.