Archive for category eco-tourism

Easter availability in the West Country

There is still time to book a break away for this Easter. Here are a few holiday cottages in the wonderful West Country!

Q10 - View from the balcony

Q10 – View from the balcony

Q10 - spacious living/dining/kitchen area

Q10 – spacious living/dining/kitchen area

This absolutely stunning custom-built detached house (sleeps 8) is positioned on a quiet, private lane on the northern edge of Mawgan Porth. The village has pubs, restaurants, deli, wine bar and beach shops clustered around a beautiful cove. It’s great for bodyboarding, and close to pony-trekking and golf. It’s also not too far from other magnificent beaches and international surfing facilities at Newquay (airport).

The property (Q10) is full of large windows to showcase the view and let light stream in to the generously sized rooms. The living/dining/kitchen area of this house is upstairs to take advantage of the wonderful sea views. Downstairs are four bedrooms (two double, two twin) with three en suite bathrooms and French windows to the garden. Everything about this property is sleek and modern in design for a comfortable holiday.

 

R54 - kitchen/living room

R54 – kitchen/living room

 

R54 - view from patio and garden

R54 – view from patio and garden

Another holiday cottage from Helpful Holidays is this large detached bungalow (R54) (sleeps 6) in the hamlet of Freathy overlooking the fine sandy beach of Whitsand Bay. It has a sunlit living room and fitted kitchen and glazed doors to the patio and peaceful garden. There are three bedrooms, two double, one twin, and one bathroom and a shower room. An excellent holiday home with good links to nearby Plymouth.

 

L153 - view from the front

L153 – view from the front

L153 - inside/outside dining

L153 – inside/outside dining

 

Perfect for a group or large family in the South Hams is this large, split-level, detached house (L153) (sleeps 12) with panoramic views over the bay to Burgh Island. Just 200 yards up from the magnificent sandy beach in Bigbury-on-Sea stands this contemporary home designed with the latest green technology. The interiors are light, bright and spacious. Consisting of four large en suite bedrooms (three twins, one double) on the lower ground floor, and another huge master bedroom with walk in dressing/cot room and en suite bathroom from the hall. A light-filled kitchen/dining room with glossy, modern units and a kitchen island. Through to a large living area with floor to ceiling glass doors here and in the kitchen to give panoramic views and access to the deck and steps down to the garden, hot tub and little summer house, plus much, much more.

These are just a few of the stunning properties still with availability for the Easter holidays, so make sure to visit the main site to discover even more!

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e-Luminate Festival Cambridge

'Colour Shift' at e-Luminate. Picture by Elisa Artesero

‘Colour Shift’ at e-Luminate. Picture by Elisa Artesero

I had the pleasure of visiting Cambridge for the annual e-Luminate Festival of light art and technology this weekend (the festival continues until 23rd February).

It was my first time in the pretty city and it was a flying visit, quite literally at times, as it was windy! We started with a Trail of Light, a walking tour of the Cambridge College Chapels. All participants were given an LED flashing light to create a line of light as we walked across from chapel to chapel. Once inside, we were given a performance by either a choir, or my personal favourite, organ music, which echoed through the candlelit chapels and their high vaulted ceilings.

There were quite a few light installations and projections throughout the city, the most impressive was Colour Shift by Susie Olczak, a wash of changing colours across the facade of King’s College. It really highlighted the architecture, creating harsh shadows to emphasise the detailed cuts of the stone.

Saturday was a bright and sunny day, and really gave us the chance to explore and get a feel for the place. There was a market selling local produce, second-hand LPs, clothes and jewellery. The city is famous for its literature festival and in keeping with this, there were plenty of bookshops to be discovered down tiny side streets and in hidden courtyards, many selling rare books of antiquity.

We had a lovely lunch of fish and chips at The Eagle pub. Dating back to 1667, the pub is most famous as the place where James Watson and Francis Crick first announced they had ‘discovered the secret of life’ – DNA. Regardless of that, it was popular yet cosy once you found a seat. We were quite lucky to get one, and would advise getting there just after midday if you’re to find a table also, as many visitors who arrived after 12.30pm were disappointed.

All in all my visit to Cambridge was a success, and anyone interested in interesting architecture, particularly religious buildings, would do well to visit. I think it would work well as part of a longer visit to the area, so it would be a good idea to rent a holiday cottage outside of the centre to allow for visits to the surrounding countryside. 

Orchard Cottage (sleeps up to 7) is a beautifully restored and tastefully furnished 18th Century cottage with half an acre of garden of mainly trees and lawn where you can, if you wish, play croquet, badminton and quoits. It is in a rural situation with a farm opposite and fields around, but is close to travel to Cambridge, Rutland Water and Stamford.

The cottage has three double bedrooms (master bedroom has en suite shower room), study, sitting room with inglenook fireplace and well-concealed television; large kitchen with Rayburn, microwave oven, dishwasher, washer/drier etc, and conservatory. The furniture is antique even the bathroom has Victorian fittings.

Orchard Cottage

Orchard Cottage

Beautifully presented bedroom

Beautifully presented bedroom

 

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Going Ape in Buxton

Yesterday’s trip to Go Ape in Buxton turned out to be really fun. We had good weather, which tends to make these kind of things much more pleasant.

It takes two to three hours to go round the course – which comprises five “stages”. You’re given pretty comprehensive training on how to use all the safety equipment — the idea is that whenever you are up in the trees, you are attached to a safety wire at least once, and usually two or three times. On your harness, you have a pulley, which is used for most of the fun stuff like going down zipwires.

The highlight of the course is the “Tarzan Swing”, which involves jumping out of a tree into a net. You’re attached to a swing, but the first part of the jump is a mini free-fall. For most of the course, it’s quite obvious that you’re very tightly connected to the safety wires, but the Tarzan jump is a little different, because the safety wires aren’t so visible, and it really does feel like you’re just launching yourself out of a tree into thin air.

Go Ape isn’t particularly cheap – £30 for an adult ticket, but it’s a novel experience – and exhilarating. It also seems to be really catching on across the country. There are 26 courses across the country – many in forestry commission woodland – and all offer a similar experience up in the trees.

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Go Ape

We’re off to try out the Go Ape course in Buxton today. Go Ape is a forest-based adventure trail… it basically involves swinging from trees, traversing rope bridges, sliding down poles and that kind of thing.

I’ve previously tried out the Go Ape course in Whinlatter, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll update this once we’ve survived the Buxton course!

Tom K

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Sustrans publish national book of cycle paths

Tarka Trail
Image by Joe Dunckley via Flickr

The Sustrans National Cycle Network stretches right across the UK, and is a a great way to get out and see the surrounding countryside when on a cottage holiday. Many of the 12,000 miles of cycle routes are traffic free.

Back in 2004 I tested out North Devon’s Tarka Trail cycle route. Now, it’s pretty tricky to mess the navigation up on that one – because it winds its way mainly along the coast, and is very well signposted. But some of the other parts of the national cycle route can be a bit trickier.

To this end, Sustrans have compiled info about all the routes into an illustrated guide – complete with descriptions and maps. You can get your hands on a copy here.

Tom K

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Wildlife Trusts voice concerns over new planning proposals

Wildlife Trust

Wildlife Trust

The Wildlife Trusts have expressed concern about government proposals that allow the new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) to fast-track major developments such as ports and power stations.

The British conservation charity fears wildlife may not be adequately considered when approving new developments.

Six National Policy Statements released this week state that the IPC will give the final go-ahead on major infrastructure projects. Stephanie Hilbourne, chief executive for The Wildlife Trust, claims this overrides the current democratic process where local people, through bodies such as Wildlife Trusts, can raise objections to developments on environmental grounds. She said:

“Local Wildlife Trusts all around the country scrutinise and monitor planning applications – around 90,000 each year. Our local expertise and knowledge is second to none. It often adds value to the planning system on major infrastructure and other projects.

“The new process must allow this careful consideration and involvement to continue with major infrastructure projects, whether it is the siting of ports, wind farms or nuclear power stations. For the future of our natural environment and our wildlife, it is vital we continue to have that say.”

The Wildlife Trusts are worried that, since the IPC does not have explicit ecological expertise, wildilfe and ecology issues may get overlooked when future large-scale developments are planned.

Increased demand for eco-accommodation

It’s been reported that guests are becoming more concerned with accommodation’s eco-credentials, according to a pan-European survey. Almost a third of respondents would choose a known ‘eco-friendly’ hotel if it was offered by a popular online booking system.

The poll of 5,000 people found that more than half (54%) say sustainable energy sources, such as wind, solar or hydro-electric power, should be used. Nearly two thirds (65%) say all hotels should install toilets designed to save water.

This demand for green credentials is reflected in guests’ own behaviour when on holiday, according to the study by Samsung Electronics:

  • 76% are as conscious or more conscious of the impact they have on the environment when staying in hotels compared with their behaviour at home
  • 88% switch off the lights when they leave their hotel room
  • 63% reuse towels more than once
  • 59% still switch electrical equipment off at the base

Samsung Electronics Europe B2B sales and marketing director Pammi Mudhar said: “Environmental awareness is on the rise and playing an increasingly significant role in the hotel booking process.

“Hoteliers can appeal to the ‘green’ consumer by responding to their expectations; putting in water-saving toilets, using sustainable energy or installing eco-friendly appliances like energy efficient flat screen TVs.”

 We assume that these positive figures will also be reflected in those who rent holiday cottages and might encourage people to not just be more ‘green’ when on holiday but also at home.

We’re also seeing more companies tailoring solutions towards holidaymakers who want to continue being green when they’re away at a holiday cottage — for example, we reported earlier this month that T-Mobile have released a new mobile phone app aimed at finding a recycling point nearby — useful if you end up with a few wine bottles to dispose of at the end of a cottage holiday.

New Android and Blackberry application aimed at finding a recycling point near your holiday cottage

T-Mobile recycle App, shown on G2

T-Mobile recycle App, shown on G2

T-mobile have just released a new app for smartphones, including the Android and Blackberry. Give it your postcode and, optionally, the type of thing you need to recycle, and it will show a map of your nearest recycle points.

I tested the app on my T-mobile G1, and it was very impressive indeed. It seems to pinpoint not only larger recycling centres, but also just those bottle banks you get on the side of the road and in supermarkets. And if you input the postcode of your holiday cottage, it will give you info on the local council’s kerbside recycling policy too.

Allison Murray, Head of Corporate Responsibility at T-Mobile, says:

“Although national recycling rates are on the rise, thousands of potentially recyclable materials still get thrown away every day purely because people don’t know where the nearest recycling point is.  We don’t often hear about the link between throwing waste in landfill and the contribution it makes to global warming, when in fact methane gas produced from landfill sites is a powerful greenhouse gas.  Methane accounted for about eight percent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2007.  We’ve harnessed the latest mobile technology in partnership with Valpak to make it easier for people find out what they can recycle and where, saving them time and money – on top of doing their bit for the environment.”

It’s a free application, although your mobile phone provider may charge you for Internet data usage associated with the app. The application can be downloaded from www.thespark.t-mobile.co.uk or by texting RECYCLE to 80988. I was also able to download the app direct to my phone on the Android Market, which seemed to work flawlessly. It’s called the “Recycle Guide”.

Looks ideal for recycling all those wine bottles after a weekend break in a cottage!