Going green in the UK

Posted by Richard Hammond at 12:07 on Saturday 31 March 2007

Richard Hammond reports on a new guide to 'responsible escapism' in the UK...

It's seemingly easier to find an eco lodge in east Africa than it is to source environmentally friendly places to stay in our own back yard. Not because of a lack of all things green in the UK - the Green Tourism Business Scheme has certified over 1,000 places in England and Scotland alone - it's just been difficult to put your finger on where they all are. Which is why, after spending an inspiring weekend at an eco lodge in Lincolnshire, Laura Burgess decided to write her own directory of over a hundred restaurants, festivals, child-friendly visitor attractions and places to stay in the UK that have "an ecological conscience"...

Imagine sitting in a bath looking out over a beautiful Welsh bay from the comfort of a tiny eco cottage, knowing that when you step out and pull the plug, you won't be polluting the sensitive coastline. Or tucking into an organic medieval banquet warmed by a roaring fire with wood that's been taken from a sustainable Suffolk forest. Or enjoying a gourmet meal in a restaurant knowing that what you're eating has been caught that day or sourced from within 10 miles?

Even take-aways can be green if you know where to look - Harbour Lights in Falmouth sources fish from sustainable stock and has ditched polystyrene trays in favour of cardboard.

A grander project is the Ecos Millennium Environmental Centre in County Antrim, one of the UK's leading green attractions, which has a multitude of interactive zones and nature-inspired activities. Entry is free.

Staying - and eating - guilt-free doesn't mean you have to compromise on standards. Strattons Hotel in Norfolk is as luxurious as it is eco-friendly and Acorn House restaurant in Kings Cross - one of the grittiest parts of London - has just won Best Newcomer in the Observer Food Magazine Readers' Awards. A model of sustainability, the restaurant provides fresh, seasonal menus and offers training to young people selected from the local community. And in Edinburgh you can enjoy a slap-up meal at the stylish, Apex Hotel, which recycles all its waste, donates its old furniture to local charities and uses eco-friendly washing powder to fluff up the towels.

And it needn't be a schlep to go green. Instead of chugging along the Norfolk Broads on a diesel boat, you can ride on a solar-powered one that doesn't disturb the wildlife on the banks. Or hop on a bus out of Nottingham city centre and within 20 minutes you could be spotting kingfishers and bitterns flying over a nature reserve. Else make the most of a short break by visiting whisky distilleries in the Highlands of Scotland or explore the Kent Downs on foot by joining a walking tour less than a mile from Faversham train station.

As Burgess says, "It's about looking closer to home and enjoying holidays just as much in this country as abroad." · Ecoescape is free from the Britain and London Visitor Centre in London and other selected UK tourist information centres.

This article, by Richard Hammond, was first published in the Guardian.

If you'd like to know more about 'green escapism' in the UK, including information about where to stay, what to do and how to get there in a green friendly way, follow the links below:

Green Accommodation and Holidays in England | Green Accommodation and Holidays in Wales | Green Accommodation and Holidays in Scotland | Green Accommodation and Holidays in Northern Ireland

Comments

ecoescape update

hi there, I’m the editor of ecoescape, and following Richard’s article back in 2007, I thought I should update readers. In 2008, we published an updated version of the original guide with over 300 green businesses around the UK. It’s a bit more expensive (£8.99) and published by a green publisher in the UK. It’s available from our website at www.ecoescape.org. We also have an eco-travel guide to Ireland too.

What exactly is the Green

What exactly is the Green Tourism Business Scheme is supposed to mean in UK? The concept is really interesting and I would surely love to know more about it. I am glad to see such initiatives in tourism in many countries now, it looks like we still have our senses after all. Anyway since we mentioned UK I would like to say that I really appreciate central London hotels because I haven’t got the chance to go green yet…

Sustainable Tourism Awards

More and more tourism areas are offering a Sustainable Tourism Award and that is worth looking for. In Norfolk, which only started the awards 2 years ago, there has been quite a fight for the top position between Strattons Hotel, near Swaffham, and Deepdale Backpackers and Camping on the beautiful north Norfolk coast. They are very different ends of the market, with one offering fine dining and beautiful rooms and the other offering very simple rooms and self catering kitchen, but they are leading the pack.

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Earthly Ideas
Diversification, Environmental and Marketing Advice
Website: www.earthlyideas.co.uk

New Online Guide to Green Holidays in South West England

Richard Hammond is right to say that it can be difficult to find genuinely environmentally places to stay in the UK. The Ecoscape publication is certainly a helpful step forward in providing suggestions which should be welcomed. The need to make it easier for visitors to enjoy ‘guilt free’ holidays and breaks has also been the inspiration behind South West Tourism’s new website www.visitsouthwest.co.uk/feelgood that lists over 200 ‘green’ places to stay and visit in South West England stretching from the Isles of Scilly up to the Cotswolds. This includes hotels, farmhouse B&Bs, self-catering cottages, campsites and holiday parks, restaurants and cafes, activities and attractions.

Of equal importance to increasing promotion of ‘green holiday options’ is the need to ensure claims are genuine. That’s why all of the businesses listed on the website are accredited by the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS), Europe’s largest green accreditation scheme for the tourism sector, which rewards businesses for measures that they have taken in energy, water, waste, support of the local economy, wildlife, involving and informing customers, transport, management and marketing.

The website also lists ways to get out and enjoy the South West whilst having less of an impact on the environment – from cutting carbon emissions to buying and eating local produce. So, with the new ‘Feel Good, Go Green’ website, planning an environmentally friendly holiday in the South West has never been easier.

Neil Warren, Sustainable Tourism Manager, South West Tourism

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