For a feel-good, low-impact holiday, take your pick from our top 10 eco-holidays by the sea: from the wind-powered cottages, eco boutique hotels and turf-roofed hobbit huts around our shores
Words Alex Reece
FOR… GREEN GLAMPING
1 Tom’s Eco Lodge, Nr Yarmouth, Isle of Wight
This award-winning site on Tapnell Farm, towards the western edge of the island, has an imaginative range of low-impact accommodation. Take your pick from geodesic domes to timber modulogs – the latter are semi-circular, timber-built pods with a decidedly Middle Earth feel. Started up by Tom Turney in 2012, the Eco Lodge uses power from solar panels, heat from biomass boilers and there is a biodigester for sewage. Visiting families are well catered for with kids’ play areas, hands-on animal activities and – new for spring 2020 – is the island’s first outdoor floating aqua park, with obstacle course. The Cow restaurant at the farm specialises in local and home-grown produce. Sleeping from 4-8, prices start from £100 a night in an eco pod (01983 758729, tomsecolodge.com).
FOR… A LOG CABIN
2 Newland Valley Log Cabins, Ulverston, Cumbria
Overlooking rural Cumbria and Morecambe Bay to the south is this micro-village of hand-crafted log cabins, created by owners Louise and Andrew Thompson. Made on site from Douglas fir, the cabins are supremely energy efficient and are heated via a combination of solar panels, thermal stores and log burners. Their rustic appearance helps them to blend seamlessly into the landscape, which is frequented by owls and roe deer, and where a resident herd of alpacas can be seen grazing. Sleeping from 4-6, they make a cosy base for an outdoor family break or romantic retreat, while crafters might also like to join in the courses on offer at the new art studio. From £100 per night for a cabin sleeping 4 + a cot (01229 588350, newlandvalleylogcabins.co.uk).
FOR… AN ECO POD
3 Dragon’s Eye, Aberaeron, Ceredigion
Clad in a gleaming, steel skin, Dragon’s Eye is an award-winning eco pod for two, set in the Welsh countryside near Cardigan Bay. Built from home-grown Douglas fir and cedar, plus reclaimed slate, it is insulated with sheep’s wool and has a wood-burning stove. Further creature comforts include a large double bed that rotates so you can make the most of the lakeside views through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and a compost loo in the en-suite shower room. A portable gas camping stove is provided for self-catering, while elsewhere on the family farm site you’ll find a communal pizza oven and games room. Enjoy country walks to the local pub or dolphin-watching from nearby New Quay. Sleeps 2, from £395 for a week (hostunusual.com, property reference 1163).
FOR… A SUSTAINABLE HOTEL
4 The Green House, Bournemouth, Dorset
Indulge yourself without increasing your carbon footprint at The Green House, knowing that every detail – from the vegetable-dyed wallpaper to the beehives on the roof – has been chosen with the environment in mind. Just two minutes from the seafront, the boutique hotel produces its own electricity, and furnishings for the 32 chic bedrooms, such as beds, wardrobes and desks, were made from sustainable, natural resources. The in-house Arbor Restaurant majors in local, organic produce, much of it sourced from within a 50-mile radius, and the bar is stocked with organic spirits, British beers and biodynamic wines. Currently, the hotel is growing fresh fruit and vegetables, which will be used in the kitchen this year. From £79 for double B&B (01202 498900, thegreenhousehotel.co.uk).
FOR… A FAMILY GATHERING
5 The Cabin at Bliss Blakeney, Norfolk
With four en-suite bedrooms, this large, free-flowing cabin makes a stylish venue for family get-togethers or holidays with groups of friends. Located on the North Norfolk coast, the single-storey structure was built sustainably and is fuelled by renewable energy in the form of wood pellets. Colourful, design-led features such as the spacious kitchen/diner with its pink-painted units, along with the retro wallpapers and vibrant fabrics, give the space an upbeat, contemporary air. And the shabby-chic outdoor dining area is ideal for seafood suppers or sundowners. From the cabin, the views extend to the dreamy nearby saltmarshes and Blakeney Harbour, where boat trips depart to see the local seal colony. Sleeps 10, from £1,440 for a week (01273 692300, coolstays.com).
FOR… A TURF-ROOFED RETREAT
6 The Stonehouses, Ullapool, Scottish Highlands
With views of Loch Broom and the Summer Isles, these two turf-roofed, stone-built retreats seem entirely in step with their lush, shoreline habitat. Both were built using natural wood and stone, and feature recycled insulation, underfloor heating via air-source heat pumps and solar water heating. As the name suggests, Treetop Cottage is perched up high, with views over a forest, mountains and the sea, while Curved Stone Cottage has a sinuous layout. The buildings are set on a private hill, offering direct access to walking routes, and are 10 minutes on foot from the village of Ullapool. Open-plan living spaces, free-standing baths and private saunas add to the sense of modern luxe. Sleeping 2-3, from £1,280 for a week (01273 692300, coolstays.com).
FOR… ECO-CONSCIOUS LUXURY
7 Croft 103, Durness, Sutherland
At Croft 103 the cutting-edge eco buildings facing Loch Eriboll and Ben Hope (the most northerly Munro) were created from local stone and recycled materials. Set by the water’s edge, Shore Cottage and Hill Cottage are insulated with sheep’s wool, and mostly powered by an on-site wind turbine, while heating is provided by an array of solar collectors. Both are designed to be an away-from-it-all escape for couples, featuring sleek kitchens and bathrooms, bespoke furnishings and fabrics. From the outdoor bathtubs, you can keep watch for the local sea otters and eagles, or maybe even the Northern Lights. Each cottage sleeps two, costing from £1,680 for a week (01971 511202, croft103.com).
FOR… A WHALE & DOLPHIN SURVEY
8 Silurian Research Expeditions, Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust, various locations
The Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust’s research vessel, Silurian, welcomes volunteers on board from April to October to help gather data on cetaceans – whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks – off Scotland’s west coast. The research programme holds the largest database of its kind for UK waters and provides vital evidence to support marine conservation. Anyone can take part – there are even dedicated trips for teenagers aged 16-17. Surveys last 7-12 days, departing this season from Tobermory, the Kyle of Lochalsh and Ullapool. Prices start from £995pp, including accommodation, food, training and equipment (01688 302620, hwdt.org/silurian).
FOR… RENEWABLE ENERGY
9 Limepark, Ballymoney, County Antrim
Formerly part of a fortified farmstead, these seven, 17th-century cottages have been lovingly brought back to life by artist Melanie Ward and her husband John, who run Limepark as a family concern. The stone buildings have been restored using salvaged and vintage items, lending the stylish interiors a sense of history. All are powered by a wind turbine, along with solar and photovoltaic panels, and an air-source system provides heating. There is also a charging point for electric cars, while the lawns are clipped by sheep and Shetland ponies. The North Antrim coast, featuring the Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, is a 10-minute drive away. Cottages sleep 2-6, prices start from £120 for a two-night stay in Little Pigs House (028 2019 9910, limepark.com).
FOR… A HOBBIT HOUSE
10 Florence Springs Hobbit House, Tenby, Pembrokeshire
Fit for both hobbits and humans, this grass-and-flower-roofed hut with round windows and doors is tucked away on an award-winning site in Pembrokeshire. The off-grid accommodation is equipped with a wood-burning stove, solar-powered lighting and a compost loo. (Shared facilities, such as hot showers, are also close by.) Inside the Hobbit House, you will find the bijou living area and sleeping quarters. A separate, covered kitchen is next door for outdoor cooking and dining, along with a wood-burner hot tub. Within a three-mile radius are the lovely sandy beaches and seafood restaurants of Tenby, plus uplifting walks along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Sleeps up to 4, from £598 for a week (hostunusual.com, property reference 848).
Looking for more holiday inspiration? Try browsing our 7 seaside railway journeys, 7 coastal campervan breaks and 7 lighthouses to let. Keep up to date with our latest travel features in coast magazine.