A view of the Lake District

Making the great British holiday greener in 2021

Many of us consider ourselves a nation of sun-worshippers with a craving to jet off at some point during the year. However, there’s nothing like a great British holiday.

Before the pandemic, overseas holidays were a booming industry. According to the Office for National Statistics, Brits took over 45 million holidays abroad in 2016, the largest amount since records began. All of this holiday-making came at a cost to the planet, but the pandemic might have given us the opportunity to reconsider how we choose to spend our leisure time.

Ditching an overseas holiday for somewhere closer to home not only saves a sizable amount of carbon – a return journey from London Heathrow to Malaga, Spain can emit 0.51 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent – it can also prove far cheaper and more satisfying.

Let’s explore the merits of a good old-fashioned staycation, with some of the best UK-based holidays, each one with an eco-friendly twist.

RSPB Minsmere, East Anglia

First and foremost, one of the best ways to keep a lid on carbon footprints when planning a staycation is finding a spot closest to where you currently live. If you’re based within the M25 and crave a beach holiday this summer, a lengthy drive to Cornwall or Devon might be just a bit too far. It would mean having to fill up the tank that bit more than, say, if you were to stick to the east coast.

East Anglia is home to a large number of idyllic beaches, cosy villages and nature reserves. Once you leave the confines of the M25 and enter into this region, the soil becomes soft and sandy, a testament to the fact that much of Britain’s south-east coast used to be at the bottom of the sea aeons ago.

If you’re a bird lover, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has just the thing for you. RPSB Minsmere is a bird reserve close to Minsmere beach. This bird reserve comprises of a series of trails set amongst woodland and marshes leading to the sea. It’s a sheltered seaside haven that provides the ideal habitats needed to sustain a diverse population of bird species including Avocets, Bitterns, Nightingales and much more.

All it takes to ditch the confines of the urban jungle for this bird-watching hotspot is a drive of just over two hours from the centre of London. EV drivers may be interested to know that the UK’s first EV charging forecourt is located in Braintree, an easy-to-reach diversion available to you, as you begin to pass between Chelmsford and Colchester.

The Lake District

Looking for breath-taking views and bracing walks in the open air? Look no further than the Lake District. It’s England’s largest natural park as well as a world heritage site, populated by a series of ribbon lakes and England’s tallest mountain, Scafell Pike.

The Lake District offers an ideal staycation for those of us who like a more active experience, hiking from valley to valley. Located in Cumbria, northeast England, the Lake District National Park encompasses 2,362 square kilometres, giving you endless possibilities for invigorating treks during your holidays.

During a visit to this neck of the woods, why not make your visit truly green and consider staying at any one of the many eco-minded hotels in the local area? For instance, the Langdale Lake District Hotel & Spa is one to consider. Expected to reopen from 17th May 2021, it runs off not one but two biomass boilers. Not only that, but the venue sources some of its electricity from a waterwheel onsite.

Swallowtail Hill, Sussex

Agritourism is a growing industry in the UK, best exemplified by the likes of Swallowtail Hill, a 40-acre farm based in the Sussex countryside. Not far from the coastal town of Rye, it includes many aspects of the ‘glamping’ trend which has taken UK staycation venues by storm but offers unique features which add to the eco-minded charm of the place.

According to the official website, the 40-acre site is conserved to such an extent that there is virtually no difference between 17th century maps of the local area and the site as you would see it today.

Accommodation is stripped down and rustic, giving visitors the bare essentials in terms of living space and helping you get out of the artificial, urban way of living. There’s a handy farm shop onsite, and the venue as a whole is run by Sarah and Christopher Broadbent. Swallowtail Hill maintains its natural surroundings with an array of lush woodlands, flower meadows and ponds, while sourcing its power from renewable energy supplier Good Energy.

Not only that, but this venue also has 14 solar PV panels onsite, which are used to generate 3,500KWh of energy which the owners send straight to the National Grid. Going on holiday isn’t always about reclining by the seaside. It can also mean getting back in touch with nature, spending time in a venue with a deep connection to its surrounding natural environment.

Canopy & Stars

Ever wanted to relive that childhood fantasy of living in a treehouse? Canopy & Stars lets you do that for real, offering a variety of treehouses dotted across the UK, from Cumbria to Kent, and from Powys to Norfolk. This quirky holiday venue business offers treetop hideaways suspended tens of feet in the air, giving you a feeling of being truly being on cloud nine during a holiday in the woods.

Not only do they let you enjoy a getaway in the trees, but you can also book to spend a holiday in a cabin, yurt or shepherd’s hut, depending on what you fancy. Canopy & Stars puts protecting the environment at the very core of its activities, as 24 per cent of the company is actually owned by a charitable trust which actively supports environmental causes.

Its holiday properties allow you to enjoy a spot of stargazing, giving you a glimpse at the night sky without the light pollution commonly obscuring the night sky in the big cities. Not only that but many of the sites allow you to spend some time getting friendly with the local animals. One venue based just an hour away from London, for example, allows you to step out your shepherd’s hut first thing in the morning and say hello to the llamas that live nearby.

Dyffryn Mymbyr Cottage, Betws-y-coed, Wales

Over lockdown, many of us have fallen in love with the aesthetic of cottagecore, an online trend of romanticising rural ways of living, seen to be more in tune with nature. Think sleepy villages and cottages with those mossy-looking stone exteriors. This Generation Z-led obsession with all things rustic is perhaps best exemplified in the style of Taylor Swift’s award-winning album “folklore”, which captures the style to a T.

If escaping to a remote cottage in the countryside sounds like your idea of fun during a holiday in the near future, why not consider Dryffryn Mymbyr Cottage? It’s a Welsh property located in the town of Betws-y-coed (Welsh for ‘prayer house in the wood’), and is based at the foot of Mount Snowdon, capable of housing a maximum of four guests in two bedrooms.

For a true escape-to-the-country experience, it’s worth considering this cottage, as it lacks Wi-Fi and a telephone, requiring visitors to put down their smartphones and leave their laptops at home for a few days. EV users need not worry about being left out here, as this cottage includes a charging point for those planning to drive around the rolling Welsh hills on battery power alone. Outside your front door, you’ll also find seemingly endless opportunities for windswept hikes if it takes your fancy, as well as incredible views across the Snowdon Horseshoe.

Why spend a week in a hotel with characterless corridors and predictable menus, when you can get a slice of authentic Welsh adventure, in this restored cottage?

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