Byway (green lanes) in the UK are typically tracks, often in rural locations, which are too minor to be called a road. These tracks are often unsurfaced, may have stone or mud base to them, typically having the appearance of ‘green lanes’. Lot’s of these byways are old roads or even Roman roads, now replaces with larger main roads. It is legal (but may not be physically possible) to drive any type of vehicle along these byways, however some do have restrictions now.
In 2000 the legal term ‘restricted byway’ was introduced in the UK. This covers rights of way along which it’s legal to travel by any means (including on foot, bicycle, horse-drawn carriage etc.) but excludes ‘mechanically propelled vehicles’ ie cars, 4×4, motorbikes and quad bikes etc.
Lots of these byways are used by farmers to access their fields and land without having to take to the main roads and holding up normal traffic.
Exploring these byways is great fun, but, and I do stress this , please do it responsibly and legally!
Byways allow you to access beautiful parts of the the countryside you may otherwise miss.
You need however to be prepared. Firstly as I said lots of these byways are just tracks, so only suitable for 4×4’s etc. However even then and this comes from experience, in winter months lots of these byways can very quickly become hard if not impossable to pass down with deep mud, water, fords and snow. Even in summer months and morning of rain can very quickly turn a dry track in to a mud slid, and even a Land Rover Defender will struggle with good offroad tyres, even a winch , snorkel and/or second vehicle maybe need to assist you.
Before doing ANY offroading make sure you know your vehicles limits, offroad systems both mechanical (difflocks etc) and electrical (traction control, ABS etc). People these days think you just press a button and you will get through anything, that is not the case in the real world I’ve seen brand new Range Rovers stuck in a simple muddy field, because they had the wrong tyres fitted and didn’t know how to use offroad systems.