Top 10…Eco-friendly half term breaks
4th February, 2011
Try something new during the half term break, whether it’s wolf tracking in Sweden or surfing in Wales. Whatever your budget, likes or dislikes, we’ve got an eco-friendly family trip for you
Glamping in Northumbria
Why it’s great: Located on the Tweed estuary with panoramic views over the Farne Islands, the Pot-A-Doodle-Do Wigwam village in Scremerston is perfect for a short break. A short bus ride away is Lindsfarne Holy Island where you can try the mead at St Aidan’s winery or visit the famous monastery. There are also plenty of cycling and walking opportunities, including along the golden-sand Cocklawburn beach. Nearby Bamburgh Castle is great for history buffs, while back at the Wigwam Village, the craft-centre will keep budding artists happy.
Need to know: Prices start at £15 per night for adults and £9 for children. If you want to bring your dog, expect to pay another £5 per night. The closest railway station is Berwick-Upon-Tweed.
Find out more: www.wigwamholidays.com
To win one of three copies of Travel with Children (Lonely Planet Guides) CLICK HERE
Wolf Tracking in Västmanland
Why it’s great: Once a common sight, the grey wolf has been pushed to the brink of extinction by habitat erosion and hunting. Along with the threatened wild lynx, Sweden’s ruggedly beautiful Västmanland is one of the few remaining habitats where the grey wolf can be seen in the wild. Working with leading Swedish naturalist Marcus Eldh and the researchers at Grimsö Wildlife Research Station, Steppes Discovery has a four night wolf-tracking trip that lets you get close to these amazing animals and includes guided nature walks in the Malingsbo-Kloten nature reserve plus expert talks.
Need to know: Wolf-tracking trips start at £845 based on a party of six, full board. The price also includes a contribution to the Grimsö Wildlife Research Station. The greenest way to get there is via Eurostar and sleeper train. See www.seat61.com for more details.
Find out more: www.steppesdiscovery.co.uk
Woodland Walks in Yorkshire
Why it’s great: Combining heather moorland, woods and plenty of top-notch country pubs, the North York Moors national park is perfect for walkers. The coastal strip is home to Dracula’s favourite seaside town, Whitby, while York is great for catching up on the area’s history and culture. The York Dungeon is totally terrifying and the Jorvik Viking Centre has plenty of interactive features. Although York and Whitby have plenty of B&Bs, the eco-option is the Keldy Cabins camp where accommodation includes log tree-houses and cabins hidden deep in the Cropton Woods.
Need to know: Prices for a two-bedroom cabin at Keldy (sleeping four) start at £272 for three nights self-catering. The nearest station to Keldy is Malton.
Find out more: www.forestholidays.co.uk
Eco-cruising in Argyll
Why it’s great: Taking in striking coastal scenery and the sea lochs of the Clyde estuary, St Hilda’s Sea Adventures is cruising with serious green credentials. Skippered by its owner, environmentalist Michael Marshall, the St Hilda, a 54-foot traditional wooden ketch, travels using sail power. Setting off from the Holy Loch Marina near Dunoon, a typical trip takes in the Kyles of Bute, the south Argyll coastline and the Isle of Arran. The trip also offers you the chance to get close to the local wildlife, including basking sharks, porpoises, seals and the occasional whale.
Need to know: Prices for six nights cruising on the St. Hilda start at £2,700 (based on six people) and include all meals. The closest station is Gournock, served by trains routed via Glasgow. Dunoon is a 20-minute ferry trip from Gournock.
Find out more: www.sthildaseaadventures.co.uk
Conservation in Cornwall
Why it’s great: One of Cornwall’s best green destinations, Gwel an Mor combines a glorious coastal location and luxury wooden holiday lodges. Everything is run with the environment in mind, and the on-site wildlife centre offers you the chance to get involved in local conservation projects. Based at the estate’s Feadon Farm and headed by wildlife expert, Gary Zammit, Gwel an Mor’s projects aim to encourage the return of native species such as the barn owl to the area. Whether rock-pooling or taking a stroll along a nature trail, every expedition with Gary involves learning more about local wildlife, and about what you can do to help.
Need to know: A week at Gwel an Mor starts at £459 for a lodge sleeping four. Trains to Camborne run daily from London Paddington station.
Find out more: www.gwelanmor.com
Kicking Back in La Marche
Why it’s great: Set deep in Italy’s unspoilt La Marche region, Airone Country House is a charming old farmhouse that has been given a green makeover by owners Rosanna and Francesco. Close to the Sibellini mountain range, the nearest town is Osimo, home to a 9km underground labyrinth. Further afield are the fortified mediaeval towns of Agugliano and Santa Maria Nuova, plus the cultural and culinary delights of regional capital, Ancona. Airone is also close to the Monte Conero Regional Park; a peninsula home to diverse flora and fauna with spectacular views over the Adriatic.
Need to know: Rooms start at €45 per night including service and a buffet breakfast. For a greener adventure, take the overnight sleeper train from Paris to Ancona. Eurostar operates daily services from London to Paris.
Find out more: www.aironecountryhouse.it
Riding Lessons in Cheshire
Why it’s great: Seeing the glorious Cheshire countryside on horseback is a magical experience and Equestrian Escape’s four-night package is perfect for half term. Children as young as six can have a go at riding courtesy of Welsh ponies Polly, Taggy, Barney, Harry and Mini. The children’s riding programme runs from 10am to 1pm daily and includes lessons and hacking. There are plenty of opportunities for adults to ride but, if that’s not for you, the mediaeval Beeston Castle and the Roman city of Chester are close by.
Need to know: Equestrian Escapes offer a four-night break in Cheshire from £260 per person based on a family of four sharing a self-catering cottage. Tuition and horse hire are included. Chester is the nearest station and has daily services from Manchester and London.
Find out more: www.equestrian-escapes.com
Surfing in Pembrokeshire
Why it’s great: The Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park is the UK’s only protected stretch of coastline and has plenty of unspoilt beaches, perfect for surfing. The West Wales Surf and Sailing Club in Dale for is the best place for tuition and surfboard hire, and also provide windsurfing, sailing and kayaking lessons. Stay at Bangeston Farmhouse, just outside Angle. The eco-friendly, five bedroom property has a wood burning hot tub, panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and sleeps up to 12.
Need to know: A week’s accommodation at Bangeston Farmhouse starts at £725. Take the train to Newport for a connection to Pembroke. Angle is a short bus ride away.
Find out more: www.coastalcottages.co.uk
Action Adventures in Lincolnshire
Why it’s great: Abseiling, fencing, orienteering and raft building are just some of the many children’s activities on offer at Caythorpe Court in Lincolnshire. Accommodation is in the historic main house and there are plenty of things for adults to do too, including a visit to the nearby Beltham House with its magnificent gardens. Alternatively, Caythorpe village’s Black Horse pub is highly rated and is reputed to have been a favoured bolt hole of highwayman Dick Turpin.
Need to know: Prices start at £149 for two nights at Caythorpe Court, including activities. The quickest way to get there is by train to Ancaster via Grantham. Caythorpe village is approximately six miles from the station.
Find out more: www.pgl.co.uk
History and Earthships in Normandy
Why it’s great: Close to the medieval town of Mortain, the picturesque village of Ger is home to the Perrine Earthship – a totally self-sustaining property that heats and cools itself using solar power and even collects its own rainwater. Sleeping up to six, it’s the perfect base for exploring the surrounding Normandy countryside with its vast forests, stunning coastline and historic towns. The island village of Mont St Michel is also close by and is well worth a visit.
Need to know: A week’s accommodation at the earthship costs £480. Brittany Ferries sails to Caen from Portsmouth. Regular trains run from Caen to Flers – the nearest station to Ger.
Find out more: www.oneoffplaces.co.uk
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Half Term Travel Tips
We asked travel expert and co-author of The Lonely Planet guide, Travel With Children, Charlotte Hindle to pass on her tips on how to make the most of a holiday when the kids are along for the ride.
Choose your destination wisely
‘Children look at things differently and there are things that adults wouldn’t think about – traffic for example – that can absolutely terrify children. Cairo, for example, can be very hard because of all the traffic and because the food is so different. Delhi is another difficult choice because it’s so polluted. My ideal destination is San Sebastien in northern Spain because it’s not too hot, there’s a lovely beach, cars aren’t allowed on the promenade which makes it safe to walk, and there’s a lovely old town. The real secret to a good trip is that the destination needs to work for everyone: if the children aren’t happy, you won’t have a good time.’
Take the train
‘Don’t assume that the car is always the easiest way to travel. If you don’t have too much luggage, taking public transport is great for children and they tend to enjoy it. Ferries are particularly exciting and it’s easy to go as a foot passenger.’
Stop for snacks
‘One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that children can go for the same length of time as they can without eating. Children use up loads of energy when you’re out and about all day, so stopping for frequent hot chocolates is a must.’
Preparation is key
‘Try to encourage their interest about where you’re going and: it lets them get involved. Talk about the destination and what you’re going to see; find books or stories if you can. For example, I took my children to the Louvre in Paris, so I found a book in the Katy series – Katy and the Mona Lisa – and read it them to them in front of the painting so they could connect. By the time I finished, around 100 people were listening!’
To win one of three copies of Charlotte's book, Travel with Children (Lonely Planet Guides), and to find out more, CLICK HERE
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