Going green in the UK
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, and also at ecoescape.org with a charge of pounds £3.65 for P&P.
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: