• Richard Hammond

Sleeper trains and wildlife filming holidays

Updated: Mar 25

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. Thanks to all the new subscribers who have joined this week – I've had over 60 new subscriptions since I put a call out on social media last week. 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:


New wildlife filming holidays launched Inspired by David Attenborough's latest natural history blockbuster The Green Planet? Specialist operator Wildlife Worldwide has for many years offered photography-focused wildlife holidays and now, for 2022, it has introduced two new workshops on videography, helping guests to capture the natural world on film. The two trips, to the Cairngorms and Finland’s Boreal forests, are based from lodges where guests have the best chance to see a range of wildlife. The daily workshop sessions concentrate on different techniques, including time-lapsing, camera trapping and drone filming, with one-on-one tuition. Both workshops are led by professional videographer Neil Aldridge.

New train journeys in Europe The Independent's Simon Calder has written about lots of great new train journeys in Europe to look forward to (when things open up again), including:

  • Trenitalia’s new Frecciarossa service from Paris to Turin and Milan

  • Nightjet train from Paris to Salzburg and Vienna

  • Sleeper/Regiojet night train due to start this summer from Brussels and Amsterdam to Berlin, Dresden and Prague

  • Railcoop's plans to run from Bordeaux to Lyon from December (see map below)

  • Iryo's service between Barcelona and Madrid

  • SNCF's Ouigo Vitesse Classique from Paris to Lyon via Dijon, as well as from the French capital to Nantes on the Atlantic coast via either Tours or Le Mans.

Stopover in Geneva with the Geneva City Pass If you're travelling by train through Geneva over the next month and are thinking about stopping over in the city for a night or two, keep an eye out for the city's Geneva City Pass – the city's tourism body is discounting it by 20% until 28 February 2022. The pass provides discounts of up to 50% on more than 50 activities as well as free public transport throughout the duration of the pass - for 24, 48 or 72 hours, with prices from £21.

Off-grid places to stay Gemma Bowes writes in the Guardian about staying for a week in a remote Lake District cottage and provides a round-up of 15 of the best off-grid stays in the UK, including a straw cottage near Llandrindod Wells, coastguard cottages in Norfolk, and five wooden pods in Devon.

New cycle routes connects Paris to the coast Andrew Eames writes in The Sunday Times about cycling along a stretch of a new 400km-long La Seine à Vélo cycle route, which connects Paris to the coast at either Le Havre or Deauville.

Forest Holidays to open new park in the Brecon Beacons Forest Holidays has announced it will be opening a new site in December 2022 in the Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales (it will be Forest Holidays’ 2nd Welsh location and 12th in the UK). The company says it's 40 "eco-sensitive" cabins will be in 400 acres of woodland in Garwnant and are designed "to integrate into the forest environment, keeping open access for wildlife, local communities and visitors". The multi-million-pound investment includes internal upgrades to the existing Visitor Centre and cafe as well as a new shop, new bike hire facilities and outdoor activities and experiences for day visitors and those staying overnight.

Biophilia comes to the city Alice Fisher writes in the Guardian about the ‘Biophilic’ urban designers who are "bringing nature directly into our lives, improving the environment and our mental and physical health". The article includes news that the city of Birmingham is about to approve a plan to join Cities with Nature, which supports a more sustainable urban environment in cities worldwide.

Inhabit Queen's Gardens, London to open in March Inhabit Queen's Gardens is the latest hotel from the Inhabit Hotels group (Inhabit's nearby urban wellness hotel on Southwick Street has been certified by Green Key). The new Queen's Gardens hotel, which is due to open in March, is across a crescent of mid-19th Century townhouses on a tree-lined square near Lancaster Gate. Its public areas include a 70-cover plant-heavy, meat-free menu restaurant and bar, lounge areas, and a library stocked with reads spanning wellness, meditation, social enterprise, holistic health, contemporary art, philosophy, local London and nature. The hotel has pledged to work with 100 social enterprises and small, socially-conscious businesses

Expanding London's ultra-low emissions zone The Evening Standard reports that the Major of London, Sadiq Khan, has asked Transport for London to investigate the feasibility of four options to tackle air pollution in the capital. One of these options is to expand the ultra-low emission zone across all of Greater London's boroughs, another is to impose a daily levy to drive a petrol or diesel car in London.

Shells open its first all-electric vehicle station Shell has opened its first solely electric vehicle charging station in the UK. The petrol and diesel pumps at the existing fuel station in Fulham, London have been replaced with ultra-rapid electric charge points. A global pilot, this is the first time the company has converted one of its existing sites to cater solely for electric vehicles.

Protected Areas The long-awaited response from DEFRA to the Glover review includes proposals for a national landscapes partnership to bring together those responsible for managing England’s National Parks and AONBs. There will be more on this following DEFRA's call for a 12-week consultation period on its proposals and planned legislative changes, closing Sat 9 April.

Citizen Science As part of its Great Somerset Wildlife Count initiative, Somerset Wildlife Trust is running a frog and toad spawn count until the end of March. Frogs and toads are important indicator species as they absorb water directly through their skin and are especially vulnerable to water pollutants and pesticides - changes to their numbers can signal environmental degradation and impacts of climate change.

In praise of coach travel Coach travel is one of the greenest ways to travel long distance, and with leather seats, wifi, usb charging points for phones, it's no wonder coaches appeal to Gen Z and luxury coaches are the preferred mode of VIPs and Premier League footballers, says Lucy Shrimpton in the Independent.

Are you a West Coaster? Visit Wester Ross, a voluntary tourism association based in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands, has launched a campaign designed to attract visitors to the islands - a UNESCO Biosphere. Are you a West Coaster? is a series of films featuring West Coasters who run businesses in Wester Ross and are looking to develop a more sustainable future.

Future Transport Zones There’s no doubt about it - there’s a green modal shift going on in transport and tourism in cities and towns across the land. Following on from the work of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund a decade ago, local authorities are demonstrating renewed effort to improve sustainable transport in an effort to meet ambitions on climate change, including reaching the net zero target by 2030, reduce air pollution, support the green regeneration of urban environments, and reduce reliance on cars whilst taking pressure off public transport. One outcome of this has been the appearance of shared e-scooters and e-bikes that have been popping up in many of the UK’s towns and cities over the last 18 months - part of the new micromobility movement, offering a low-carbon, cheap and convenient way to get around. But are they a fad or here to stay? Voi, which provides scooters in 17 towns and cities including Liverpool, Birmingham, Bath, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge, has written a useful article Debunking myths about sustainable transport and micromobility. To date, in the UK, Voi has serviced over seven million rides, which it says has replaced an estimated three million short car trips.

E-scooters outside Bristol Templemeads railway station
E-scooters outside Bristol Templemeads railway station. Photo ©Voi

And finally: Don't miss the satire film Don't Look Up | Read my new Guide to low carbon holidays | Here's a great eco lodge in Devon | How to travel from Scotland to Europe without flying | The Man in Seat 61's dream list for re-instated train journeys