About us header

Myth busters

Many green lanes show very little signs of use, contrary to the media image of convoys of 4x4 destroying the countryside. Sadly this has become popular belief, so much is the power of the press.

Myth busters

Many lanes can take sustained use of rercreational vehciular traffic. Even lanes with a soft surface can take a certain amount of traffic leaving very little evidence of their passing. With a change of attitude and co-operation, we can all co-exist without TROs.

Myth busters

Not all green lanes are tight and narrow. Many have widths of over 40 feet, much like the rest of the minor road network. Just because they escaped being covered in tarmacadem doesn’t make them any different.

Myth busters

Byways are for all classes of user. It is the highest class of right of way and recreational vehicular users should respect all other users. Restricted Byways are for all users except recreational vehicular users, but there are sometimes exceptions to this rule.

Myth busters

The definition of a Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) is a highway over which the public have a right of way for vehicular and all other kinds of traffic but which is used by the public mainly for the purposes for which footpaths and bridleways are used.

Myth busters

Many unsealed roads are actually surfaced. This one is a flint track, the flint coming from the surrounding fields. Each parish would have been responsible in the past for the upkeep of their roads. Many still more sustainable than their tarmac cousins.

Can you help us?

Did you used to green lane in the 80s or 90s or early 2000’s? Do you know anyone who did? If so please email our Magazine Editor via our contact page under GLASS Officers. Thanks.

If you are NOT currently a paid member please signup here

If you ARE already a paid up GLASS member, but need to register for the members area join here

What are 'white roads'?

They are roads shown on OS maps without any colouration.

Metalled (tarmac) roads are always shown in colour, the minor roads being yellow.
OS Legend and it says yellow is "Road generally less than 4m wide"
White: "Other road, drive or track"

So OS distinction is width not metalling? Of course they always state ""The representation on this map of any road, track or path is no evidence of a right of way". The public in general take coloured roads to be public roads and white roads not to be? Is that true?


How are Rights defined?

The 1948 Act.................required HAs to set up Definitive Maps (DMs) to define rights of way, then being footpaths and bridleways. Parishes were required to submit to the County HA maps showing what they believed to be rights of way. The maps submitted generally still exist in for my parish I have  a photo of it. Each path has  a description, in many case you find "terminates on County Road at XX", but it is no longer a County Road aha!

We have recently discovered that the guidance issued at the time said they must not include roads on the submitted maps. Now at that time many roads were single track unmetalled lanes well used by the public so having  footpaths terminating on them was not a problem. Most of them would be widened and tarmaced over time and  find there way onto the "List of Streets" (LoS) with vehicular rights established by common use, who would question it now it is full of traffic? However some remained as tracks, some fell into disuse.

A paper in the House of Commons Library (ref:??) estimated there 40,000 in England and Wales and they are not properly recorded anywhere. They could be lost to all users in 2026.


The List of Streets is simply a list showing which ways are maintained at public expense, it does not actually define rights as does the DM. There is no doubt that the LoS were intended to be vehicular routes and LARA have produced and extensive paper on this matter. Unfortunately a small number of HAs started adding minor non vehicular routes to the LoS to define them as Maintained at Public expense (example cycleway along Leek and Manifold NG Railway in PD). This gave the anti vehicle movement an opportunity to claim not all routes on the LoS are vehicular and by constant repetition extend this  to claim no routes are vehicle unless proven which has created a major problem with highway records.


Lost Ways

In addition to the 40,000 white roads unrecorded there are many ancient routes  that have fallen into disuse or  are still used but not recorded correctly. Estimates vary but it is in excess of 20,000 each, used but unrecorded and unused and lost. Many may only be footpaths but could be bridleways or byways.

So far we have two incomplete records ( DM and LoS) and possibly up to 80,000 unrecorded ways


Street Gazetteers

As the country develop over recent decades two major problems arose:

1. The control of Statutory Utilities: They who keep digging up our roads
2. The allocation of addresses: Street names, post codes etc, somebody has to do it! Sat Navs!


What does Private mean?

This is the really interesting bit! If you ask a HA about white roads,  lost ways etc and they are not on the DM or LoS they will say they are private! If you buy a house on such a road you will have to take out insurance to cover the value of your property if it turns out private means somebody owns it and will put up a gate! In many case the ownership is indeterminate becuase it is a public road that is unrecorded correctly, but the HA does not want to take it on as it will cost them money (adoption!)

We have examples of HAs saying such a road is "private" so an adjacent landowner immediately  obstructs it, when in fact public rights must exist! So what they actually mean by private means "not publically maintained". We have now proposed that private needs wider definition and splitting into two:

1. Private, no public rights and privately maintained
2. Private but with public rights of  access but privately maintained


At the moment gazetteers do not differentiate. So now we have four records non of which is a clear and full record! Oh yes and the first two have to be paper documents for legal reasons but may be digitised for convenience. The LSG/SWR are generally digitised. in Herefordshire the SWR is created and run by Highways. The LSG by IT, oops think that is wrong way round. Massive duplication of cost and effort to created a record full of holes.