A historic green lane in the North York Moors National Park at Ugglebarnby, near Whitby, is to be closed because of 'vandalism' by 4x4 vehicles.
At least 15 stones of an old, historic 'trod' or pathway have been pulled up and thrown into the ditch. And a total of 200 metres of the route – known locally as Seggimire Lane – has suffered serious surface damage as a result of the incident.
Due to the damage North Yorkshire County Council is to close the unsurfaced lane to all motor vehicles temporarily until a long-term solution is found.
Sarah Blakemore, the North York Moors National Park Authority's Access Officer, said:
'Seggimire Lane is a charming, historic green lane which is full of character. It is simply not capable of withstanding use by 4x4 vehicles and this irresponsible use by a few individuals has made it very difficult for everybody to use because of the deep ruts and churned up mud.'
'The surface of the lane and the historic stone trods are now in a very fragile condition and more likely to suffer serious damage by the motorcyclists who regularly use it.'
Doug Huzzard, Highway Asset Manager for North Yorkshire County Council, added:
'Unfortunately we have no option but to close the lane as a result of this inconsiderate and illegal activity by a few thoughtless drivers, whose 'enjoyment' of this historic route amounts to little short of vandalism.'
'We will assess the damage to the route, make arrangements for its reinstatement, and identify what future management is appropriate.'
He went on:
'Lanes such as this – and there are very many of them in North Yorkshire – are particularly vulnerable to damage from off-road vehicles as a result of the prolonged rainfall of the past few months. It is highly irresponsible of drivers to use the lanes in these conditions.'
Once commonplace, North Yorkshire's stone pathways, which are known as 'trods', have been fast disappearing since 1900, says the National Park Authority. Archaeologists, cartographers and historians now view the trods of the North York Moors as an integral feature of the area's economic and industrial history.
Some of the trods date back to the medieval monks, while others may have been linked to the inland distribution of salt-fish from the harbours of the coast and many linked farms, churches and villages. It's a fair bet that none were built with recreational vehicles in mind.