If the most excitement you see in your 4×4 is a full load of shopping on the way back from Tesco, it’s probably time you put it through its paces on your first green laning trip.
And with everyone currently looking forward to emerging from lockdown, now is the perfect time to start planning your adventure.
Here the green laning experts at specialist insurance broker Adrian Flux answer all the questions you need to ask before you head off into the great outdoors.
What is green laning?
Green laning is adventure driving on what are usually un-surfaced lanes, tracks or trails that are open for motorised vehicles to use.
Also known as byways, green lanes are often overgrown and twist through the countryside very much off the beaten track. Green lanes are officially classified at BOATs (Byways Open To All Traffic or UCRs (Unclassified Country Roads).
Do I need Tax, MOT and a driving licence to drive a green lane?
Despite their challenging surfaces and overgrown nature, green lanes are still public highways and they are subject to the same road traffic orders as every other road. You will need road tax, insurance, driving licence and an MOT (if applicable). For your own safety your vehicle must also be robust and road worthy.
I’m legal, my 4×4 is legal. Can I drive any green lane?
Not all byways are open to traffic, some of them may have a Traffic Regulation Order on them (TRO). The onus is on you to ascertain whether a green lane is open to traffic or whether it has restrictions on it.
How do I find green lanes near me?
There are many clubs that organise regular green laning drive outs and even if you live in a big city such as London you can usually find a club near you. They are a great place to start. Just north of London, for example, the Essex Land Rover Club organises monthly trips along the byways of Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
Up towards Birmingham you can follow the Midlands Green Lane Society on Facebook to learn about their green laning days and events.
And towards King’s Lynn check out the Breckland Land Rover Club for green laning events.
Can I go green laning on my own?
You can but it’s not advisable, especially as a rookie. Green laning can be dangerous, especially if you are inexperienced at driving on unstable surfaces.
Accidents aren’t common, but they do happen. As do punctures and getting stuck in the mud. If you come to grief in this way it’s good to know there are other vehicles on hand to give you a tow or to help change a spare wheel.
And if you get lost, which shouldn’t really happen nowadays with satnav technology, it’s good to know you’re all in it together.
Do I need any special equipment to go green laning?
You will need to take the sort of things you’d take on any long roadtrip: mobile phone and phone charger, first aid kit, check your spare wheel is inflated and your jack works, you’ll also need a basic tool kit with some spare bulbs, dress appropriately and take your wellies, satnav and paper OS map.
You should also pack an off-road jack, a tow rope and it’s a good idea to put a shovel in the boot.
What else do I need to know for my first green laning trip?
Avoid going out alone and remember, despite the green lane’s appearance, it is still a public highway so respect others using the route and always consider and give way to pedestrians, horse riders and livestock.
Make sure the green lane you want to explore is open and is not subject to any special orders and stay on track.
Watch your speed, drive in convoys of no more than six vehicles and, above all, respect the countryside and avoid driving on badly damaged green lanes because that could result in them being closed permanently.
Finally, take care. Green laning is fun, but there are risks.