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Ten eco experts describe their holiday secrets

Posted by Richard Hammond at 11:49 on Saturday 06 January 2007

Ten eco experts describe their favourite places...

Interviews, by Richard Hammond, were first published in the Guardian.

George Monbiot
Environmental campaigner and author

Sea kayaking around the coast of Lewis. There's a series of stacks, arches and enormous sea caves where you can go 200m into the cliffs and there are otters, seals, dolphins and, from time to time, even orcas. It's one ofthe most exotic holidays I've ever had, and it's not very far away. One of the islands in particular is like something out of a Greek myth - we kayaked between very high cliffs and a little passage opened out into a wide lagoon with sand dunes all around it. (WildernessScotland.com, tel. 0131 625 6635, can organise kayaking trips around the Scottish isles.)

Jonathan Keeling
Producer, BBC Planet Earth
Camping on St Agnes in the Scilly Isles is best in May or June when there's hardly anyone there. I love the walk from the quay to the island's campsite across the camomile meadow - I take off my shoes and walk barefoot and it feels like I'm returning to somewhere that's really special. At high tide, the campsite is just 10m from the sea and you really feel that you're at the edge of Britain and that the next stop is America. There's so much wildlife to see. One of the best wildlife experiences is swimming with grey seals.

Tony Juniper
Director, Friends of the Earth


When you take the train to southern Spain there's something very special about getting off in sight of the north African coast. It takes about 24 hours from Waterloo to Malaga with an overnighter between Paris and Madrid. I was able to do a lot of writing and reading and thinking, and see how the countryside changes from deciduous forest in the UK down to olive groves and vineyards in the south of Spain. In Andalucía, we saw a flock of wild flamingos - something you wouldn't see on the two-hour journey by plane.

Mark Carwadine
Zoologist and photographer


I've sat on my favourite rock many times over the years. It's high above Paradise Harbour, a popular stopping off point on the Antarctic peninsula, and has one of the most spectacular views in the world. A circle of snowy mountains reflected in the water, aptly-named Paradise is home to a huge blue and white glacier and dozens of little clusters of crabeater seals, lounging on pieces of floating ice. Humpback whales cruise by in the open water and minke whales appear among icebergs. It's quite a trek up to "my" rock, but don't worry - you can slide back down the snowy slope on your bottom.

Amanda Marks
Co-founder, Tribes Travel (01728 685971)

I went to a South African shebeen with an excellent guide, Victor, an unemployed teacher who lives with his family of nine. You're in the middle of a township of over half a million, mostly very poor people living in tiny tin shacks. To some, this won't sound like much fun but the evening will stay with me always. It was packed with people talking, singing and dancing to the superb live music. The food was great and the beers flowed. I was miles away from home and should have been feeling well out of my comfort zone, but I had a whale of a time.

Alastair Sawday
My favourite place for a barbecue is on the beach at Sand Point, just north of Weston-super-Mare, of all places. The National Trust owns it and keeps it as a rare oasis of beauty against the south shore of the Bristol Channel. Wales is across the muddy water, the grass rolls away behind and there is no sign of the urban banalities of Clevedon or Weston nearby. Another, close to Bristol, is my favourite circular walk - from Barrow Court across open fields and down to the beginning of a beech-wooded combe to a point above Barrow.

Safia Minney
Founder, fairtrade clothing company People Tree
One place from my travels stands out - the Boat Landing Guest House (www.theboatlanding.com) in Luang Namtha, an economically poor, but ethically rich area of northern Laos. It serves simple but delicious organic food and the rooms are charming and use local textiles and fabrics. It is so eco - they have solar power and prioritise jobs for locals.

Sophi Tranchell
MD, fairtrade company Divine Chocolate
Last year, my husband Duncan sailed Fairtrade, the boat he built in our back garden, all the way to the Caribbean. Then we drifted lazily in and out of the beautiful bays around St Lucia, St Vincents and Bequia. We discovered Jambe de Bois, the most fantastic cafe run by lovely ladies who served local specialities and great cocktails. It's perched on a beach at Pigeon Island along the St Lucia coast and you can moor your dinghy to their jetty and sit with your pina colada looking out into the bay. It's magic.

Richard Reed
Co-founder, Innocent Drinks


Camp as rough and remote as you can, but stay in the UK. I don't understand why people go to campsites as the whole purpose of camping is to get away from people. My favourite place to camp is Barbondale in the Yorkshire Dales. It's my ground zero. Remote, but easy to get to by train from London. It's in a classic V-shaped valley, in an area of open moorland where you can swim in an ice-cold river, get your eggs and bacon from a local farmer and cook them over an open fire. It's also five miles to the Cross Keys Temperance Inn for homemade rabbit pie.

Steve Leonard
Vet and wildlife presenter
I like to tick off the classic hill walks and mountain bike trails around Snowdonia national park. My favourite place is a mountain biking centre called Llandegla, which has built a sustainable structure made with local wood and carried out an environmental assessment to set up the mountain bike trails. It's a really well thought out place where you can do a 21km circuit and come back for a jumbo cappuccino to finish.

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