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New Zero Hotel and 30 Days Wild

The Green Traveller Digest


Welcome to my latest round up of news, features and comments on green travel.

This newsletter is written by me, Richard Hammond, the founder of Green Traveller.

Please do forward this newsletter to anyone you think might be interested in receiving it or ask them to subscribe via the link on the button below:

How bans on short-haul flights might transform rail travel in Europe Elissa Garay reports in Condé Nast Traveller on how a growing number of countries in the European Union have proposed bans on regional flights where a rail route exists and that the European Union "is aiming to double high-speed rail traffic by 2030".

Still available at Easter: Family-friendly glampsite, Monmouthshire Family-owned Penhein Glamping, in South Wales, still has plenty of space over Easter for families. On a 450-acre farm, in the heart of the Monmouthshire hills, it's in a secluded woodland 850ft high – on a clear day you can see both Severn bridges, and beyond to Bristol. The site’s Persian high-domed tents each have their own toilet, kitchen, wood-burning stove and shower, and the owners have ensured sustainability runs right through the site’s day-to-day operations, from the local crafting of the tents to the spring-fed filtered water. Winner of the itravel Staycation Awards in 2019, the glampsite has added two more 'Alachigh' tents for 2022, and is now running a 'private lambing live' experience as well as the chance to go ‘tree foraging’ with Adele Nozedar, author of recently published book ‘The Tree Forager’.


Introducing room2 – a net zero 'hometel' The website of a new hotel in London claims it is 'the world's first whole life net zero hometel'. In Chiswick, West London, room2 is forecast to use 89% less energy per m2 compared to a typical UK hotel, and a statement released by the hotel says that "both embodied and operational carbon have, and will be, rebalanced throughout the entire hometel’s lifecycle... All emissions associated with the hometel’s production and construction, materials used, operations, maintenance, refurbishment, and including the eventual clearance of the building will equal zero." "The pioneering new opening sets a new global industry standard for environmental responsibility in the fight against climate change and proves sustainability doesn’t mean sacrificing style, convenience or comfort." Margaret Hussey went along to the hotel to check it out, you can read her article in the Guardian.


Sawday's sustainable stars Accommodation specialist Sawday's has created a collection of about 30 of its most eco-friendly listings - places "where you’ll meet owners who farm, build, grow, power and source with the utmost care for their impact on nature and their communities". These Sawday's Sustainable stars include one of my favourite places to stay, Hôtel les Orangeries in Lussac les Châteaux, France. Other picks range from Quinta da Cancela in Northern Portugal, to Red Kite Barn, in Powys.

The exterior of Hôtel  les Orangeries, Lussac les Châteaux, France.
Sustainable star: Hôtel les Orangeries, Lussac les Châteaux, France. Photo: Richard Hammond

James McVey to support 30 Days Wild The Wildlife Trusts have announced that The Vamps' guitarist, James McVey, will be supporting this year's 30 Days Wild programme. Every year The Wildlife Trusts invite people to do one wild act every single day during the month of June, with the aim of bringing people closer to nature. Last year a record 760,000 took part (two million people have participated since 30 Days Wild began in 2015) completing over 16 million "acts of wildness" between them. According to the organisation, the most popular activities were wildlife-watching, eating outdoors, planting wildflower seeds and listening to birdsong. Most participants said their favourite activities were those that directly helped nature, or those that expanded their knowledge of the natural world.

A girl standing on a rock with outstretched hands looking out over the countryside
A walk on the wild side. Photo: Evie + Tom Photography

Natural England issues new Countryside Code for land managers The Guardian reports that the government conservation agency Natural England, in partnership with Natural Resources Wales, has issued new advice for farmers designed "to help the public enjoy the countryside responsibly" while protecting livestock and maintaining the usability of rights of way. The new guidance advises farmers and land managers on how to make land more accessible - for example by adding self-closing gates instead of stiles where possible and using better signage - and how to correctly report anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping, littering, livestock worrying and other offences.

Farmhouse in the countryside of the North Pennines, England
Countryside in the North Pennines.

Town centre to be pedestrianised on 'Green Breather Days' The Frome Times reports that Frome Town Council is proposing to pedestrianise the centre of the town once a month between May and September, "to cut air pollution and use the town centre in innovative ways to encourage people to explore it". The selected days, proposed to be over a series of five Saturdays, will be known as Green Breather Days.

How green are electric cars? Automotive classified advertising business, Autotrader has compiled an in-depth article about the impact and sustainability of electric vehicles (EVs). This, it says, will help the public "better understand the key challenges and impact of the shift towards driving electric". The piece includes a few interesting facts and figures such as:

  • 57% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to help the environment

  • Shifting to electric reduces a vehicle's overall lifetime Greenhouse Gas (GHG) footprint by as much as 37%

  • A survey of 18,000 drivers found that 47% are considering an electric vehicle for their next car


Bordeaux & Valencia awarded European Capitals of Smart Tourism The French city of Bordeaux and the Spanish city of Valencia have launched their joint year as European Capitals of Smart Tourism after being awarded the title towards the end of last year. The European Commission initiative aims to recognise the excellence of tourism destinations in "accessibility, sustainability, digitalisation, and cultural heritage & creativity". Bordeaux and Valencia impressed the jury "with the outstanding programmes of activities they intend to execute during 2022, as well as their notable capacity to act as a role model for other cities". Valencia’s Mayor Joan Ribó said: "Six years ago we decided to change the city's tourism model and transform it into a sustainable, integrated, competitive model that respects its citizens and its natural and cultural heritage". Examples of the types of initiatives the cities are implementing include the Bordeaux Tourist Office creating a special guide for visitors with reduced mobility, and Valencia working to measure and certify the carbon footprint of its tourism activity.


How to find hidden train journeys to ski resorts Have you ever tried to book train travel between the UK and the Alps and not been able to find the journey you were looking for? Daniel Elkan, founder of ski train website Snowcarbon, has produced a video showing how to deal with the complexities of booking rail holidays to the slopes, in particular how to find rail routes that might not show up in search results. Daniel explains that train booking websites "don’t hide journeys on purpose... It’s just the result of a system that doesn’t always work well." In his 12-minute video (below), he provides a step-by-step guide to researching two sample journeys – London to Oulx (at 0:55 into the video) and London to Bourg St Maurice (at 6:40), so that you can see how to find hidden journeys yourself all over Europe, and he recommends several rail booking agents that you can book through.

This Week Bad news for... The koala, which the Guardian reports has been listed as endangered following a decline in numbers resulting from shrinking of its habitats due to land clearing and bushfires.

Good news for... The staycation boom in Wales, which tourism bosses say is likely to continue, despite the easing of pandemic restrictions, according to a report by the BBC.

My Tip of the Week Check whether the train you or your friends are on (or hoping to catch) is running to schedule with this handy real-time map of Great Britain's rail network.

And finally: I've written a book! The Green Traveller It's a book about low carbon travel and eco holidays in the UK, Europe and beyond. Whether you want to holiday in an off-grid glampsite, see conservation in action, or you’re trying to decide whether to travel by train or ferry to Europe, it’s packed with tips and suggestions for how and where to go green. Published by Pavilion Books on 5th May, I'll be writing more about it nearer the time, but if you want to be one of the first to get your hands on a copy, you can pre-order a copy now.