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New Swiss Hiking Route and Electric Car Charging

The Green Traveller Digest

Welcome to my latest round up of news about green travel. This newsletter is written by me, Richard Hammond, the founder of Green Traveller.

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HELP FOR UKRAINE Chris Haslam considers in The Times whether Ukrainian refugees could take up work in the UK's hospitality sector, and how they might avoid being exploited. He asks "With around 230,000 positions unfilled — and jobs often coming with food, accommodation, training and support — could this be a positive option for new arrivals?" Juliet Kinsman has compiled a round-up in Condé Nast Traveller of worldwide initiatives by the travel industry to help Ukrainian refugees, including a global directory for accommodation providers that matches refugees with available rooms.


Latest news about Green Travel

Launch of first certified hiking trail in Switzerland A new 20-stage hiking route, Via Berna, is to launch in Switzerland next month. The route combines cities, lakes and mountains from the Bernese Jura, past the Swiss capital of Bern, along Lake Thun towards the Alps and finally on to the Sustenpass. There are several ‘vias’ in Switzerland, but the Via Berna is the first in the country to be awarded the European certification ‘Leading Quality Trail (Best of Europe)’.

River with mountain in the background
The ViaBerna, Switzerland. Photo: MadeInBern

Electric car chargepoints to overtake fuel pumps The Department for Transport has announced that by the end of the decade, the number of charge points for electric cars will be equivalent to almost five times the number of fuel pumps on UK roads today (from 30,000 to over 300,000). Under the plans, drivers will be able to compare prices and pay by contactless card. However, the RAC said that while the chargepoint target "might sound impressive", it is concerned the number is "not going to be sufficient" for growing demand, reports the BBC.

Brittany Ferries increases sailings between Ireland and France In more upbeat ferry news this week, operator Brittany Ferries has confirmed it is to resume sailings this summer with the return of ships such as Bretagne (Portsmouth – St Malo), the re-start of services from Plymouth and Poole, and an increase in the number of ships sailing between Ireland and France. In a statement, the company says that "since Brexit, Ireland has become increasingly important for Brittany Ferries and its freight customers. This has been reflected in the opening of direct trade routes between ports like Le Havre and Rosslare, sometimes described as the Brexit by-pass. Now, there’s more good news for freight, but also for passengers. Flagship of the fleet Pont-Aven, will return to serve French and Irish passengers as well as freight drivers on Roscoff to Cork. And there will be two round trips per week on this beautifully appointed cruise-ferry". Britanny Ferries first LNG-powered vessel will sail for the first time with passengers from Portsmouth to Bilbao this Sunday (27 March), which will also run a weekly trip between Portsmouth and Cherbourg. The company says LNG power promises far lower emissions in ports and while at sea, cutting particulates and sulphur, and reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions by ninety percent.

Guide to travelling as a foot passenger from the UK to Europe According to the latest data on carbon emissions provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, travelling as a ferry foot passenger is one of the least impactful ways of travelling abroad. For anyone who'd like more information on how to just that, I've written a guide to How to travel as a ferry foot passenger, with details of how to get to the ports by public transport as well as how to connect with local transport services on arrival. The good news is that you can travel as a foot passenger on many ferry services out of the UK and enjoy all the benefits of modern ferry travel – bars and restaurants, plenty of entertainment and facilities for families, comfortable overnight cabins and no bag restrictions. The ports on both sides of the crossing are well connected by public transport, so it’s easy to travel by bus or train to the ports in the UK, as well as disembark on the other side and continue your journey overland.

Walkway for foot passengers boarding the ferry
Walkway for foot passengers boarding the ferry. Photo: Richard Hammond

A Film for WWOOF Volunteering exchange organisation WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) has published a new film about its work (see below). Made by the young filmmaker Louis Johnson, who was winner of the YOOF International Video Award in 2019, the film was shot on location at one of its host farms in Norfolk. WWOOF is part of a worldwide effort to link visitors with organic farmers, promote educational exchange and build a global community conscious of ecological farming practices. The organisations says "Land-based practical skills are more popular than ever within the dual challenges of the climate emergency and coronavirus, so now is the best time ever to explore the UK countryside and learn relevant knowledge in a very practical setting through hands-on experiences".

Big Walk and Wheel Sustainable transport charity Sustrans is again running its annual campaign to encourage children to walk, scooter or cycle to school. Formerly known as the 'Sustrans Big Pedal', the #BigWalkAndWheel aims to highlight the benefits an active school run can have on children and young people’s physical and mental health, as well as the environment. This year’s event runs from 21 March to 1 April and participating schools can compete to win prizes such as bike racks, creative playground markings and micro scooters.

The joy of... Shropshire Travel writer Annabelle Thorpe has written in the Guardian about 10 brilliant things to do in Shropshire – that "may be one of the UK's quietest counties" that's great for a slow travel break, from canoeing the Severn to experiencing foodie Ludlow and walking the famous hills.

Tree in green field
Photo: Hannah Charman/Unsplash for Wix Media

Leave No Trace Ireland Kilkenny Leader Partnership and Leave No Trace Ireland have produced an online training course for the general public. The course "is designed to raise awareness and give a better understanding of recreation related impacts, the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace, and how Leave No Trace skills and ethics can help protect the outdoor places we love". The course takes 40-60 minutes to complete.

Direct trains to connect Malaga and Granada Euro Weekly News reports that Spanish rail operator Renfe has announced that it will be operating direct trains between Malaga and Granada for the first time from early April. The report says that there will be twice daily departures from Malaga (9.25am and 8.25pm) and from Granada (at 7.40am and 6.50pm). The service will also stop in Loja and in Antequera (once its high-speed station has been built).

In praise of Swiss Railways The year 1847 marked the start of what would become the densest public transport network in the world with the opening of the first Swiss train route between Zurich and Baden. To celebrate 175 years since what was known as the Spanisch Brötli Bahn began, a programme of events is planned across Switzerland between May and October, including a nostalgic ride along the route itself.

Protect Our Winters Mobility Week Outdoor enthusiasts are being asked to raise awareness of the emissions caused by travelling to the great outdoors. According to the organisers of POW mobility week (28 March – 1 April), about 70% of emissions from outdoor recreation are related to transport, and the car is still the most popular mode of transport to reach outdoor areas for sports and recreation. The initiative will see individuals and organisations throughout Europe tracking their movements through an Active Giving app and sharing their sustainable travel stories on social media using the hashtag #POWMobilityWeek.

Elsewhere in the world this week

Good news for... The World's Forests: The Guardian reports new research has found that the world’s forests do more than just store carbon. New data suggests forests play a far greater role in tackling climate crisis than previously thought, including helping keep the Earth at least half a degree cooler.

Bad news for... The Great Barrier Reef: The Guardian reports that the marine park's authority has confirmed that there has been an "unprecedented sixth mass coral bleaching event". Aerial surveys show almost no reefs across a 1,200km stretch have escaped the effects of high temperatures.

My Tip of the Week If you're travelling by Eurostar to Paris, you can buy paper tickets for the Paris Metro as well as the Navigo Easy card (the new, prepaid Paris travel card) from the bar buffet on board Eurostar – it will save you time on arrival at Gare du Nord where the queues at the staffed counters can be long.

And Finally... How to Recycle Should you crush cans, peel off labels, and switch from plastic to cardboard cartons? The BBC's Radio 4's You and Yours programme spoke to sustainability expert James Piper about the best ways to recycle. If you're confused about the rules, here's a really useful guide to the best ways to recycle.

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