It would have been rude not to...
Recently, I was asked at very short notice to visit M-Sport just outside Cockermouth in the Lake District to have a look at their new Ford Ranger and write an article about it for Performance Ford magazine, as you do. So I figured that there’s no point in travelling for just over 2 hours from Muddy Towers in our latest press car, an Evoque, and not enjoy a couple of green-lanes whilst I’m up there. The problem was, it was 3.30pm on a Wednesday afternoon, and I was due to visit them tomorrow.
Fortunately as I’m a member of GLASS, the Green Lane Association I get to use Trailwise, a brilliant, if not old and in need of updating website that offers the location, amongst other details, of green lanes throughout the UK. After an hour or so I had collated quite a few potential lanes, and quick question on the Cumbrian GLASS Facebook page confirmed which lanes were suitable for both the Evoque and lone driving. With my route planned I made a quick sketch of the lanes on a piece of paper (I must invest in a GPS) and had an early night.
The following morning, after packing my Ghillie kettle and the odd bit of recovery equipment, the Evoque carried me in comfort up the M6, there was drizzle, there was heavy rain and there was a 10 minute monsoon of biblical proportions... then the sun came out - "Typical Cumbrian weather." I thought. At junction 40 I turned left onto the A66 towards Keswick then off onto the B5292 which, using the Evoque's flappy paddles gave the car a totally different character. Soon enough I was heading towards Low Lorton for the start of the first green-lane, NY1125-01.
Passing the 'Unsuitable For Motor Vehicles' sign, the lane quickly becomes quite steep, passing a few houses on the way up. Once you pass the last house the lane narrows a little more with foliage on with either side but the surface remains solid, as you can see by the photos below.
Although quite cloudy, the views were still spectacular, and according to Andrew from M-Sport, on a clear day you can see the Isle of Man in the distance.
NY1125-01 continued to go higher but remained straight forward, though a little tight in some places due to the overgrown bushes. In truth, Muddy Madam’s Skoda Fabia could have easily traversed this lane, but that isn't the point, it was a pleasure to drive with great views to enjoy.
Upon reaching the end I had a choice, turn left and try another green-lane that emerges at Loweswater, or right towards the main road. I decided on the latter as I was told that it gets quite narrow and consequently very scratchy, so I gave it a miss.
The next lane on my list was about 10 minutes away and leads out of the small village of Eaglesfield, UID: NY0826-01. Again, it started off quite solid underfoot, but the high hedges meant the view was pretty much non-existent. Unfortunately the second section of the lane, NY0826-02 looked as though it hadn't been driven for a while, as you can with the photos below. I had a quick recce on foot and it didn't look too bad, but walking back to the Evoque I was reminded that it was a brand new £51,000 car with less than 8K on the clock and I didn't want it going back to the JLR press team looking like a scratched-up banger, so I turned around!
The 2 other lanes I had planned to drive had locked gates at both entrances, so, feeling a little miffed I decided to find somewhere to eat before it was time to visit M-Sport.
And the M-Power Ford Ranger? Well, I liked it, a lot, and oddly, Andrew had already plotted both an on-road and off-road route for us and the off-road route was traversing NY1125-01 again, only the opposite to which I came in the Evoque.