Our response to the use of 4x4s and motorbikes on the unclassified road between Tilberthwaite Farm and Little Langdale

View west across Little Langdale Tarn towards the Greenburn valley

The National Trust has been looking after special places in the Lake District on behalf of the nation for the past 120 years. We look after over 20% of the Lake District National Park, including land on either side of the unclassified road running between Tilberthwaite Farm and Little Langdale. The road itself is the responsibility of Cumbria County Council, and is being looked after by the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) on the council’s behalf. We have no authority to control the use of this road.

We have listened carefully to the concerns expressed by many of our supporters and other visitors to the area. We believe that the use of recreational 4x4s and motorbikes around Tilberthwaite and High Oxen Fell is unacceptable and we would welcome a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to prevent it.

We share the widespread concern over the use of this track. Its condition had deteriorated over years for a number of reasons, including increasing recreational use by 4x4 vehicles and motorbikes, coupled with a lack of recent maintenance. We're pleased that recent repair works by the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) have returned the road surface to good order.

We have considered the impact that this use of the track has had on the current and previous farm tenants at Tilberthwaite Farm, and we also understand the similar concerns over the use of the track at High Oxen Fell.

As a charity dedicated to protecting the special qualities of the places in our care we are convinced that the current use of this track by recreational 4x4’s and motorbikes is unacceptable and causes harm to the recognized Special Qualities of the National Park, and in particular, ‘Opportunities for Quiet Enjoyment’.

We're aware of the ongoing claims and counter claims regarding the potential impact upon the Lake District’s status as a World Heritage Site too, with debate focusing upon the various attributes of Outstanding Universal Value upon which the Lake District was inscribed as a World Heritage Site. Given our support for World Heritage, and the Partnership’s obligation to conserve Outstanding Universal Value, we're working closely with key partners, stakeholders and the local community in order to deepen our understanding of this important issue.

We do understand that the National Park has a difficult task to balance the needs of competing groups in the Lake District and any action to impose a Traffic Regulation Order will need to be backed up by evidence of the harm being done by recreational driving. However, when the Rights of Way Committee meets in September to review the evidence, we will be urging them to recommend the application of a TRO and to apply the Sandford Principle in making their decision regarding future use.

We also understand the concern that preventing the use of these tracks by 4x4s will encourage the problem to spread elsewhere. We'll be encouraging other member organisations of the Lake District National Park Partnership to work with us and consider how we manage recreational use of the Park and what types of use are appropriate for our ambitions to be a world class visitor destination.