Whether seeking a dose of The Good Life or wanting to do your bit to keep Britain a green and pleasant land, connecting with the environment can help revive the spirit of even the weariest urban dweller. Spend some quality time in the countryside and nurture self-sufficiency skills for a brave new eco-world.
Not a stuttering dog impersonation but World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Discover the realities of rural life on Fincham’s Farm, an isolated smallholding near the village of Garboldisham Ling in south Norfolk, from early starts to milk the goats to the intricacies of sheep-shearing. No agricultural expertise is necessary to sign up for a short break, but you’re bound to glean some tips on mulching and pesticide-free ways of growing before you leave. It’s a family affair where everyone chips in to earn their board and meals – and giving your food a hand on its journey from garden to plate makes it extra flavoursome.
Nestled in the foothills of Snowdonia just three miles north of Machynlleth, this interactive shrine to sustainable living shows you exactly what an eco-home looks like. Sunshine and breezes are harnessed to keep the lights on and the rooms cosy, while water is recycled in clever ways to meet your washing needs. After a comfort break in the compost toilet, take a stroll in the permaculture garden to learn planet-friendly ways of feeding yourself. It’s an inspiring vision to ponder over a glass of chilled organic wine in the eco-café.
A sunny hillside overlooking a patchwork of fields near the village of Rothbury is a scenic spot for a lesson in the ancient craft of dry-stone walling. Experienced traditional builder John Wilson demonstrates how no mortar is needed to assemble a solid, durable wall the Incas would be proud of. Selecting the right shaped stone to lock together in a neat jigsaw is slow but satisfying work – and the finished wall not only stops sheep wandering off but is a piece of living history.
Spotting the first daffodils of the year is just one way of adding to the Woodland Trust’s online record of how climate change is affecting Britain’s wildlife and nature. Take a springtime walk in the Farndale valley by the River Dove in North Yorkshire to see a mass of yellow blooms carpeting the banks.
From putting up a fence around a cider apple orchard to hacking through gorse in the Peak District to give the wildflowers space to bloom, BTCV’s charity-run conservation holidays are a chance to blow away the city cobwebs and get your hands dirty. The week-long Cornish Beachsweep in Falmouth is one of the most rewarding: after a day combing the magnificent beaches, batten down for the evening in Tregedna Farm’s stylish converted barn for a communal meal with like-minded volunteers.
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