What is Green Laning?
England and Wales are blessed with an extensive network of byways and unpaved roads that offer rights of way to all users, including vehicles. They offer access to the heart of the countryside with some amazing views and experiences for the careful user.
Surrey has several such iconic routes and they can all be driven with care using most types of 4×4 vehicles. Further afield, Wales and the North of England have some simply astonishing byways and lanes that take the driver to remote, beautiful and mountainous environments.
What are the benefits of Green Laning?
Access to the countryside is a well know benefit for mental health and well being and there is numerous research about this.
Green laning is a valid leisure activity and simply another vehicle (pun intended!) for countryside access. Not everyone is able to walk of cycle and people lower mobility can use green lane to access areas that would otherwise be impossible for them. Green laners often stay longer and their spend on food and accommodation contributes to the rural economy.
Vehicles by nature push back overgrowth and keep rights of way open for other users and the emergency services. Regular use of lanes by responsible users help keep a watchful eye on remote areas and in Surrey as elsewhere green laners are regularly involved in reporting and monitoring rural crime issues.
As a personal example you can read here an article Stuart wrote for GLASS about his mother’s love of green laning as her illness made it more difficult for her to access the countryside she loved. Read ‘Betty’s Story’…
What are the rules of Green Laning?
‘Greenlanes’ is the convenient name used to describe the various types of route, all of which have the same status as other highways and where the rules of road still apply. Vehicles have to be insured, road legal and the drivers qualified.
There is little or no public money left for the maintenance of the lanes and across the UK there is pressure caused by inappropriate driving. GLASS https://www.glass-uk.org/, the Green Lane Association, works hard to promote good practice and relationships between all users. Stuart and Gareth are both members and Surrey 4×4 Tours actively promotes those same values of courtesy and preserving the environment for everyone to enjoy.
Travelling on a green lane brings joy to driver and passengers alike – it is a remarkable experience that also allows access for those with mobility issues. The Surrey Lanes are ancient and have been driven for decades, some for centuries (with carts 🙂). Surrey 4×4 Tours are committed to working for those rights to continue as we introduce more people to the delights of a drive in the most wooded county of England!
Green Laning and the Environment
Surrey 4×4 Tours maintain their Surrey woodland. Other than the existing track we have carefully left the area wild with leaves left to fall and mulch their nutrients back into the soil. Nutchatch, goldcrests and tit flocks are regularly seen on site, as are deer. We remove fallen and damaged trees in order to give space for the rest of the wood to flourish and carefully steward our precious, natural green space.
Is it damaging?
There is a misconception that all 4x4s always do damage to the countryside. Damage can can be the result if they are driven irresponsibly or in the wrong conditions as with any vehicle, but damage is by no means a given. Surrey 4×4 Tours are as concerned as anyone about anti-social driving and therefore we make a great effort to ’tread lightly’ on all journeys.
The pressure by surface area of a 4×4 tyre pressing onto a track is much the same as that of the sole of a boot and much less than that of a horse. We don’t spin our wheels and aim to never damage the carriageway.
We travel slowly with engines rarely getting above tickover to keep noise and exhaust to a minimum – it’s much the same as if we were stopped at traffic lights. Our vehicles are ‘vanilla’ tuned in the same way as they left the factory and they do not smoke or burn excess fuel. We drive only on the legal carriageway and regularly work on keeping lanes accessible to all, often clearing blockages.
In short, Surrey 4×4 Tours are committed to teaching and promoting the very best green lane practices.
Our ‘Hire’ Vehicles
In partnership with Surrey 4×4 Hire, we offer P38 Range Rovers for hire at a great price for customers to use on our tours. Although not new, these vehicles are maintained by a dedicated fleet mechanic. And because they are not new we are not precious about the scratches and dings that might occur in the normal process of a trip on the lanes.
Range Rovers are luxurious, comfortable and among the most capable of all off road vehicles – and the hire fleet is no exception. The team are in fact all a bit depressed about how capable the P38’s are ‘out of the box’ compared to our specialist guide vehicles!
You may of course bring your own vehicle to one of our events but be aware that we will need to check it’s specification to make sure it is suitable and there will be a risk of scratching it on the narrow, natural lanes.
What ages can drive?
Byways can be legally driven in the same way that any ‘normal’ road can be driven. Therefore in your own vehicle on the byways those same rules apply – drivers need to hold a full driving licence and be insured for their vehicle which itself needs to be taxed and MOT’d (if under 40 years old), and insured.
In our on site teaching vehicle the driver needs to have a full driving licence.
Our partners Surrey 4×4 Hire restrict the use of their vehicles to drivers over the age of 21 and there may be a small surcharge.
Will we get muddy?
Your vehicle will almost certainly get muddy on the outside, possibly upon the inside too from your footwear. We don’t go our of our way to make mess or find mud but it is often there, even in the summer.
WE DO NOT seek out or deliberately get muddy. We are not the organisation for you if this is what you want.
You may well get muddy too and cold in winter, so please wear appropriate clothing for the day – wet weather gear, warm layers, strong shoes or boots. Clothing suitable for a walk in the countryside is idea.