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Green Travel List: Small Hotels, UK and Ireland

Posted by Richard Hammond at 12:45 on Sunday 21 February 2010

Cnoc SuainCnoc Suain, Ireland

Way out west in the wilds of Connemara, come here for a lesson in Irish tradition: Gaelic language, music, song and dance in an upland setting overlooking the sea and distant Twelve Pin mountains. Restored thatched stone cottages tap into geo-thermal energy for the heating, and the owners contribute to a sustainable fund, Cothú ('nurture'), which promotes environmental and cultural projects in the region. See greentraveller's full listing for Cnoc Suain.




Trericket Mill, Powys

A Grade 2-listed Georgian mill in an idyllic woodland setting by the side of a fast flowing brook about 30 yards from the River Wye. Two stone bunk rooms provide all the usual facilities after a day out in the Brecon Beacons, including a drying room for wet kit, cooking equipment, barbecue area, and showers with unlimited hot water, or there’s B&B in the wonderful old mill house that serves slap up veggie dinners next to the antique corn-grinding machinery. www.trericket.co.uk, 01982 560312.

YHA Langdon Beck, Northumberland

The YHA's greenest and highest hostel. From the dining room and lounge there are wonderful views over the North Pennines and you are close to the 70ft 'High Force' - England's third tallest waterfall. Evening meals are served in the 31-bed hostel, which has a range of local real ales and organic wines, a wind turbine and solar panels generate more half of the power, and rainwater is harvested from the roof. The YHA's website gives information on the nearest national cycle route to all its hostels: www.yha.org.uk, 845 371 9027.

Brignall Mill

Brignall Mill, an 18th century watermill near Barnard Castle bordering the Yorkshire Dales. The owners have installed a micro-hydroelectric scheme, a heat pump, solar panels and woodburners. www.brignallmill.co.uk, 01833 637726.

La RosaLa Rosa Campsite and Hotel, Yorkshire

An off-grid, gypsy caravan site on the North York Moors, which the owners have packed with an eclectic mixture of vintage vans and decorated with miscellany from years of trawling through car boot sales, junk yards and charity shops. Meanwhile, the owners' other life, a plush hotel slap bang in the centre of Whitby (that was once the hangout of Lewis Carroll), shows what you can do if you put your mind to recycling - 90% of fixtures and fittings are second hand. They're the wombles of Whitby. See greentraveller's full listing for La Rosa Hotel.



Trelowarren Estate, Cornwallans

By opening up his large woodland estate on the Lizard Peninsula as a part time-share, part self-catering holiday business, all year round, Sir Ferrys Vyvyan is doing his bit to counter the second-home ghost town syndrome in this beautiful corner of Cornwall. Trelowarren's historic grounds (mentioned in the Domesday book) have an organic walled garden, an all-weather tennis court and lots of woodland trails. Over 100,000 trees have been planted, providing wood for a vast 7-tonne woodchip boiler that heats 8 new-build wooden cottages. Most of the fish, game and herbs used in the estate's excellent New Yard restaurant come from the Lizard Pensinula. See greentraveller's full listing for Trelowarren.

The Straw Bale Cottage, East Yorkshire

The UK's first two-room self-catering holiday cottage made with straw bale walls, which the owners describes as a 'carbon negative' (as the straw continues to grow, it locks up carbon). Built out of locally grown wheat straw in the orchard of the owner's farm, a mile from North Howden train station, the cottage draws on solar and wind power, has a cosy log burning stove and bikes are provided free of charge so you can explore the trans Pennine cycle route. www.strawcottage.co.uk, 01430 410 662.

StrattonsStrattons Hotel and Restaurant, Norfolk

Not exactly your typical eco retreat, this bohemian 10-room country hotel in the market town of Swaffham is a Grade II-listed Queen Anne villa with canopied four-poster beds, open fires, stripped wooden floorboards and free-standing baths. Its award-winning restaurant serves mostly seasonal, organic food, and almost every conceivable aspect of the running of the hotel has been designed to reduce its draw on energy and minimise waste and packaging. There's a 10 percent discount if you arrive by public transport: take the train to King's Lynn then X-1 bus to Swaffham.See greentraveller's full listing for Strattons.



Ecocabin, ShropshireEcocabin

A small log cabin in the lush South Shropshire hills designed for those in search of a healthy dose of natural living. Surrounded by a wonderful wildflower garden in the summer, the timber frames are from local Douglas fir and larch, the walls are clay-painted, most of the furnishings are from a community recycling scheme, there's solar power for hot water, wood pellets for the stove in the cosy lounge, and you can order a delivery of local organic food instead of a last minute dash to the supermarket. See greentraveller's full listing for Ecocabin.



Southwaite Green, Cumbria

Four eco-converted farm cottages near Crummock Water and Buttermere where you can walk over the ridge at Whiteless Pike to Derwent Water. The rooms have been laid with slate and oak floors and an innovative underfloor heating system uses heat from the ground. Ten percent discount if you arrive by public transport. www.cumbrian-cottages.co.uk, 01228 599960.

Yarde Orchard, Devon

The only accommodation on Devon's Tarka Trail and a convenient overnight stop for cyclists following the Devon Coast to Coast route between Ilfracombe and Plymouth (route 27 on the National Cycle Network). Hostel-style rooms and one family room in an annexe are built to an eco-spec and there's an organic café and bar serving local ales and Devon ciders. Camping in summer also available. See greentraveller's full listing for Yarde Orchard.

The Hytte, Northumberland

A small, grass-roofed timber cabin that could have plucked from the forests of Norway. The Hytte (pronounced "hutta") has wooden floors, a Norwegian log burner, sauna and a hot-tub, though keep an eye on the green tariff electricity meter; should you go over what the owners deem average usage, you are charged the difference, which is donated to Northumberland National Park Environment Association and The Great North Air Ambulance. See greentraveller's full listing for The Hytte.

The Ecolodge, Lincolnshire

Convenient for cyclists using Route 1 of the national cycle network, this small B&B, in eight acres of woodland near Old Leake, was built by the author of a book about alternative energy. Powered by a large wind generator and solar panels, all the cooking is done on a wood-burning range in the kitchen or outside on the BBQ overlooking a poplar-lined meadow. Ten percent discount if you arrive by bike or train. www.internationalbusinessschool.net/eco-lodge.htm, 01205 871396.

The Old Schoolhouse, Ireland

A small self-catering retreat in the village of Dowra close to the Marble Arch Caves, Florencecourt House and Cavan Burren where there are tombs, huts and rock art of early Neolithic settlers. The restored schoolhouse is designed for families, with a pool table, Wii, home cinema and four bikes for hire. www.theoldschoolhousecavan.com, +353 86 2548 901.

CoopershillCoopershill, Ireland

A luxurious Georgian mansion on a 500-acre estate of ancient woodland and deer pastures in the heart of County Sligo. Grand places like this - with a huge entrance hall, large four poster bedrooms and a high-ceiling antique dining room - are usually energy blackholes, yet the O'Haras, who have owned the estate for 8 generations, have installed a vast wood burning stove fed by wood from the estate, harvest rainwater, tap into natural spring water and have installed a wetlands sewage system, all of which have earned it certification from the EU Flower eco label. See greentraveller's full listing for Coopershill.



The Really Green Holiday Company, Isle of Wight

With a name like this, it's unlikely you'll be sharing this lovely yurt camp with the heli-flying jet set popping over for Cowes Week. Near Freshwater Bay at the western end of the island, there's no electricity on site, just solar-powered showers and cooking is done on a campfire or wood-burning stove. You can reach the camp by a 40-minute walk off the ferry from Yarmouth along the River Yar or you can order bikes to be delivered at the terminal and arrange a free baggage transfer. See greentraveller's full listing for thereallygreenholidaycompany.

Ard Nahoo, Ireland

An eco-retreat health farm in the glens of County Leitrim on Ireland's Atlantic coast. Choose from an unfussy list of treatments: simple massages and facials as well as steam baths and yoga, or escape to the great outdoors for surfing, kayaking, and horse-riding. The yoga studio and cosy eco-cabins are heated with wood burning stoves and you can pluck potatoes, veggies and onions from the owners' permaculture garden. See greentraveller's full listing for Ardnahoo.

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