Scoop Review of Books

Responsible Escapism


ecoescape.jpgA new travel guide series is changing the way travellers see the world. ecoescape is defining a new way to travel proving that we can enjoy the environment but leave no hint that we’d ever been there. And we don’t have to go far to do this. We believe that the best places to escape are closer to home than we had ever imagined.

“Here is proof that green is no longer extreme. A thoroughly researched guide to lots of lovely, genuinely eco-friendly places to stay, from city centre hotels to rural retreats.” — Richard Hammond, the Guardian’s eco travel correspondent

“ecoescape begins at home. It’s about reconnecting to familiar places – our cities, villages, birthplace or countries – and finding ways to escape that we may never have realised were there. We also want to discover new spaces to think and breathe. ecoescape helps you find ways to get off-grid at home and further afield without sacrificing the quality of travel experience or the potential to relax and escape everyday life.” — Laura Burgess – ecoescape founder and author

ecoescape: United Kingdom – published March 2008, price £8.99

In the UK there are some of the most inspiring people and places that you will find anywhere in the world. It just takes some fresh eyes and a new mindset to enjoy them. For this inspirational and practical guide, we’ve found fifty of the best ecoescapes from around the UK. These handpicked experiences are sustainable from start to finish. The author, Laura Burgess, travelled slowly and has included details of her cycle, bus and rail routes so readers can do the same.

“ecoescape aims to encourage a rediscovery of landscape, attractions, foods and dwellings closer to home. It promotes alternatives to flying to encourage travellers to tread gently as they go.” Laura Burgess

ecoescape: United Kingdom is a 208-page, full-colour travel guide to the greenest places to escape to in the UK. Each of the featured fifty ecoescapes includes the author’s personal review, inspiring photography and full contact details, plus advice on how to get there slowly. There is also a comprehensive directory that covers places to stay, visit and eat, so wherever you go in the UK, an ecoescape is never far away.

The art of Slow Travel The art of slow travel involves using our cars less and avoiding flying. Instead we take the train, the bus or the boat and use our bikes and our legs more. Each ecoescape book comes complete with a Slow Travel Toolkit which shows the reader how to enjoy travelling slowly and in the process discover a new way of taking a holiday.

The first in a new series ecoescape: United Kingdom is the first in a new series of travel guides that celebrate escapism and holidays that are closer to home. May 2008 sees the publication of ecoescape: Ireland and September sees ecoescape: Islands of Britain and ecoescape: Budgets and Backpacks. In 2009, there will be four more ecoescapes, including our first foray overseas to France. But we’ll only be getting across the Channel by ferry or train as no flights are allowed!

This new edition and the editions to follow build on the considerable success of the first edition published in 2007. The days of the 1p flight may well be over but Laura’s journey over the last year demonstrates that ecoescapes are here to stay. Her ongoing research, and that of her team, will continue to expand the coverage of eco-tourism in the UK and beyond.

Green tourism matters Nowadays we all know that we have to think about our carbon footprint and the resources we use so green tourism matters too. Eco-travel begins at home here in the UK and that’s why tourism businesses are cutting emissions, sourcing locally, generating their own energy, moving off-grid and encouraging travellers and visitors to do the same. Through the books and its lively website at, ecoescape provides a platform for UK businesses to shout about what they do and to connect ecoescapers to the changes that are making the world a greener place.

“ecoescape is all about nurturing a new mindset about what travel is and how we travel through time and space in the world. We don’t dictate a set of dos and don’ts. Instead we aim to create inlets to finding a greener holiday based on things we all like to do and experience already.” Laura Burgess

The website offers news, stories and travellers tips as well as an online directory of environmentally friendly places to stay and visit. It’s also a meeting place for green travellers to raise awareness of sustainable travel in the UK and promote responsible escapism globally. Travellers are encouraged to share their stories and help fashion the new books. Their low carbon adventure can be in the UK or abroad – and the only rule is that it must not have involved flying.

Further info: see

ecoescape: United Kingdom written by Laura Burgess is published March 28th 2008, price £8.99, ISBN 978-1-905731-40-4.

ecoescape: Ireland written by Catherine Mack and edited by Laura Burgess is published May 28th 2008, price £8.99, ISBN 978-1-905731-29-9.

Both Laura and Catherine are available for interview. A press kit is available including more on slow travel and what ecoescape is all about plus sample pages and images. The full PDF and print copies of ecoescape: United Kingdom are available for review on request.

Editor’s Notes

1. ecoescape is published under the Green Guide imprint, by Markham Publishing. The Green Guide is the directory for planet-friendly living – see – is the UK’s most comprehensive database of eco-friendly, green and natural products, services and organisations. It was first published in 1994.

2. ecoescapes are available in bookstores, selected organic & wholefood stores and specialist retailers across the UK. They can be purchased direct from the publisher’s website at Details of forthcoming titles in the series are also available online.

3. The books are distributed by Vine House Distribution Ltd, The Old Mill House, Mill Lane, Uckfield, East Sussex TN22 5AA.

4. A limited number of copies are available for competitions and give-aways.

5. Laura Burgess studied French and Russian at Nottingham University where she developed her love of travelling. After working in the tourism industry for a few years she began to despair about the lack of awareness of environmental issues and the impact travel has upon the planet. From her resolve to do things differently was born the idea of ecoescape. In 2007 having searched the UK for ideas closer to home that combined the escapism of travel with care for the planet she published the first edition of ecoescape. She received a Lottery-funded grant to help cover the costs of the book and following publication the book received wide coverage in the media. Later in 2007, Laura pitched the idea for a series of ecoescape guides to a publisher and began working with Markham Publishing shortly after. She now lives in London, regularly writes features on green travel for national publications and works with Green Guide as its travel editor.

6. Inclusion in ecoescape: None of the businesses have paid to be included in the book. Nor do we get paid commission for any holiday booked using ecoescape. Our editorial decisions are kept independent from commercial ones. Although many of the businesses have received formal awards for their green initiatives, ecoescape has another set of requirements which are difficult to measure. We look for businesses that demonstrate that along with fulfilling the criteria set by green accreditation schemes and government initiatives, they offer innovative ways of involving their customers in the travel experience. The business owners need to offer guests an insight into the local communities that sustain them through their supplies of energy, food, drink, local crafts and expertise. We include ecoawards such as the green leaf of the Green Tourism Business Scheme as an additional guiding point for readers.

An ecoescape is about what the destination offers as an experience and a way to get ‘off-grid’. In other words the business has to add to the stock of stories about responsible escapism. The ecoescape suggestions in the guides therefore contribute to a storybook of how the owners think travel is possible whilst also paying respect to the natural environment in which they live and welcome others to stay.

7. Examples of ecoescapes in the UK: The following ecoescapes are all covered in greater depth in the new edition. Pictures are included in the press kit which is available on request. Permission to reproduce the full reviews may only be granted upon request for suitable publications. Examples of ecoescapes in Ireland are also available. Ecoescapes are found in every UK region, including Wales and Scotland. Please contact us for details of local information pertinent to you.

i Trelowarren, Helston, Cornwall The Vyvyan family has been resident at the Trelowarren Estate for over six centuries. Keen to re-establish the estate as a self-sufficient community with a healthy work force, the present owner, Sir Ferrers, has tirelessly brought it back to life with ecologically sound timeshare properties. His feudal approach to the rejuvenation of the estate is all about longevity and the future of the land beyond his lifetime using techniques of the past to achieve this.

ii The Zetter Hotel, Clerkenwell, London Fashionable Clerkenwell is home to a fashionable hotel, the Zetter. Leaving the latest trends aside, the Zetter has been doing well at greening its business. The hotel is in a converted warehouse and uses FSC-certified timber from sustainable sources. It is independent of mains water as the supply comes from deep below the ground via the hotel s own pump and borehole. There is individually controlled air-conditioning in all 59 rooms of the hotel and the public areas but what makes this special is that it is retrieved from the borehole too.

iii Old Chapel Forge, Chichester, West Sussex If sleeping in a converted chapel isn’t enlightening enough, then staying in one of the UK’s greenest B&Bs is bound to get you thinking. Old Chapel Forge has acquired countless awards and green celebrity status for its dedication to reducing the impact of every aspect of its business. There’s solar panelling to heat the water along with measures like grey water recycling and providing food produced by local farmers. All waste wood ends up in the wood burner and junk mail becomes fire lighters.

iv Moss Grove Organic Hotel, Grasmere, Cumbria An opportunity for renovation and a passion for organics led to the rebirth of this green hotel in the heart of the Lake District. The owners of Moss Grove have taken care to restore the hotel in a sustainable way and their uncompromising level of quality and exceptional taste make this a hotel to remember. The stunning beds, almost sculptures in themselves, are made from reclaimed timbers or come from sustainable sources. Just about every feature is thought through with both the customer and the environment in mind.

v The Straw Bale Cabin, Howden, East Yorkshire The first little pig from the Three Little Pigs story gave straw a bad name for home building. If only he knew about its super insulating properties that make it one of the best and cheapest materials around. All it needs is some lime rendering and eco-plasterboard to keep the big bad wolf out. While there are few wolves stalking the farmyards of East Yorkshire, the straw bale cabin was built to withstand the elements and offer guests a stay a little out of the ordinary. Even during the chilly nights, the cabin needs no heating as its temperature stays about 10 degrees above the outside temperature.

vi The Hytte, Hexham, Northumberland Near to Hadrian’s Wall, and fully accessible to disabled visitors, the Hytte ticks all the boxes for comfort, accessibility and the environment. It was designed to be low impact using FSC-approved timber and a turf roof for insulation and to blend in with the landscape. Along with its wood burning stove, the self-catering lodge uses a 6kw ground source heat pump and has a multi-zoned underfloor heating system. The appliances are low energy and there’s a reed bed water treatment system along with extensive recycling facilities. Meanwhile guests can make use of the sauna and hot tub from where there is ample opportunity for some star-gazing during clear nights.

vii Cove Park, Cove, Argyll & Bute ‘Inspired thinking’ is the philosophy behind Cove Park. In a remote location like this with views out to Loch Long, dark starry nights and all-important silence, inspiration comes easily. Cove Park was set up as an artists residency organisation but welcomes people looking for any of the above hard-to-find qualities. We arrived on foot having tried out various forms of transportation from Glasgow all of which worked seamlessly. Arriving in Cove Park, we found what we were looking for: nothing; except uninterrupted views and somewhere peaceful to stay.

This press release issued March 2008
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