Getting on a cramped flight for a weekend rushing around a city seems to be the standard for weekends with friends these days, not to mention hen and stag dos. From Prague to Copenhagen
; the sight of British revellers taking over city centres and partying it up abroad has become a familiar sight. But ultra short weekend breaks abroad come with a steep environmental cost, with short haul air travel the worst offender. And it isn’t just trips abroad that don’t do the planet any favours, thanks to the growing trend for hopping onto low cost domestic flights to the likes of Manchester, Edinburgh and even Newquay.
Factor in cabs, nightclubs and eating out and the result is a carbon footprint out of all proportion to the time away. But caring for the planet doesn’t mean having to give up weekend breaks altogether. Whether it’s taking the sleeper train to Cornwall or hopping on the Eurostar for a weekend in Europe’s cycling capital, Amsterdam; making an eco-friendly getaway has never been easier.
Babes in the Woods
Treat your friends to a weekend of bushcraft, cream teas and champagne in a secluded woodland glade in Devon. The accommodation is in very comfortable teepees complete with camp beds, lanterns, sinks and flower arrangements. Activities include building survival shelters, making fire without a match, whittling wooden spoons and best of all, sitting around the campfire with your girlfriends. There are a variety of packages available depending on how much pampering and champagne you and your friends require.
Catch the sleeper train to Cornwall
Recreate sleepovers by catching the sleeper train from London to Penzance. The Night Riveria departs from Paddington at 11pm and arrives in Penzance at 8am the following day, so you can begin the party with drinks in London and still arrive in Cornwall in time for beach-lounging on Saturday. Once in Cornwall, take advantage of the super-fresh local fish and try cooking them on a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall inspired beach barbecue. Also worth checking out is Rick Stein's highly rated Padstow eatery, which has plenty of seasonal fish on the menu. If weather permits, make the most of Cornwall’s heritage and head to the legendary Arthurian castle Tintagel, where you’ll find evocative ruins and fabulous sea views.
Hop over to Honfleur for a gourmet break
This is a good option for more civilised types who will appreciate relaxed, fine dining in the pretty harbour-side town of Honfleur. Inntravel organises weekend breaks to Honfleur, which include ferry transport across the Channel, two nights in a hotel and one evening meal, making booking blissfully simple. Try the picturesque three-star Hotel du Cheval Blanc, which is located by the harbour and within walking distance of the main sights. When you get hungry, head to Entre Terre et Mer, where you can indulge in a six-course supper based on locally made produce.
Need to know:
A two night trip to Honfleur starts at £274 per person for two nights, including dinner, accommodation and ferry travel. For more information, see here
Go on an overland mini-break to Amsterdam
It’s incredibly easy to reach the canal-side bars of Amsterdam by train or ferry from the UK. The train from St Pancras to Amsterdam takes less than five hours if you go via Brussels, while the Stena Line rail and sail to Amsterdam option means you get to spend a night at sea. While in the Dutch capital, make the most of the myriad cycling opportunities and jump on a bike tour of the city for a day soaking up some culture in the sunshine before an evening of bars and parties. There’s also plenty of eco-friendly sleeping options to choose from, including the wonderful Seven Bridges (www.sevenbridgeshotel.nl
) – a 300 year-old boutique hotel that has taken the concept of recycling to new heights.
Need to know:
The train from London to Amsterdam starts at £116 return (eurostar
) and rail and sail with Stena line costs from £57 one way overnight (plan your journey here
). For more information on what to do, see the website
Get adventurous in Wales
The Pembrokeshire coastline is full of marine adventure activities, including climbing, kayaking and wild swimming. Preseli Venture runs weekend and week long activity courses, which offer a huge range of active things to do, including cliff climbing, coasteering and sea kayaking. Groups are welcome at the centre and stay at the on-site five-star eco lodge. While the days are action packed, the evenings are free for chilling out with a singalong around the bonfire, a few drinks at the onsite bar or a pint at a charming local pub.
Need to know:
An adventure weekend starts at £235 per person including activities, accommodation and food. For more information see Adventure Holiday Pembrokeshire