Five ways to make this year's family break the greenest ever

Five ways to make 2012’s family holiday the greenest ever
From taking the ferry to a budget version of the Orient Express, Greentraveller founder, Richard Hammond, shares his top five ways to holiday without harming the planet

With air travel responsible for 6.4 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions, finding greener alternatives for getting around can have a hugely beneficial environmental impact. Taking the train produces up to 90 per cent fewer CO2 emissions than flying, and going by ferry, bike and foot can help both the planet and your bank balance. We asked Richard Hammond, the founder of, to share his tips on how to make your 2012 getaway a green one.

Rail and sail to Ireland or Holland

‘You can take a train from London to Holyhead and from there catch the ferry across to Dublin. The ferry is timed with the train so you’re not waiting at Holyhead for eight hours and it costs £38 one way, all-inclusive. With Holland, you get the train to Harwich, take an overnight ferry, arrive at the Hook of Holland and from there you can get to Amsterdam or Rotterdam within an hour. A lot of businessmen are doing it so they don’t have to get up at four in the morning and can work on the ferry.’

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Take the sleeper train to Scotland

‘You get on a train at 9pm at London Euston and wake up in the Highlands. It’s like this long, subconscious teleport from the urban grit and grime of London to the mountains; fresh and wild. There’s a stop in the Highlands called Corrour: you get off there and walk for 10 metres, look around and you can’t see the track. The youth hostel there, Loch Ossian (, is fantastic and really great for green travel: it’s off-grid and run by solar and wind power.’

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Walk the Welsh coastal path

‘This is an 870 mile path all around the Welsh coast that’s scheduled to open on the 5th May. Pembrokeshire is the only national park that has a marine border, so they’re rolling it out to [include] the whole of Wales. Some of the other paths already exist, like in Anglesey, so they’re joining them up as a continuous route. Great for long walks with a variety of stages.’

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Explore the Canary Islands

‘They’re known for mass tourism destination but it’s good to start getting away from the resorts and really see the beauty of these islands. They’re great places to get away from the beaten path and go walking, biking and stay in rural accommodation. La Gomera, for example, is almost like a Caribbean island: lush and green, with fantastic walks. Take the train down to either southern Spain or southern Portugal and catch a ferry across to Gran Canaria - it’s a great trip.’ According to travel website,, the best way to do the trip is over three days with plenty of stops for sightseeing. Take the Eurostar to Paris and catch the overnight sleeper train to Madrid (see for more information). Spend the day in the Spanish capital, then take the early evening train from Madrid to Huelva. After a night in Huelva, take the Naviera Armas ferry to the Canaries from Cadiz.

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Stay at the Tren Hotel

‘The Tren Hotel is an overnight train that goes from Paris to either Madrid or Barcelona. It’s a bit like the Orient Express but you don’t have to dress up. You have a three-course dinner travelling through the French countryside, then go back to your cabin at night and they’ve drawn the curtains and put a bit of chocolate on your pillow. When you wake up, you can have a hot shower and a lovely breakfast and arrive at a very civilised nine o’clock in the morning. Also, if you’re going to Barcelona, the Balearics and Ibiza open up to you.’

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