Sustainable Tourism in the Lake District

Sustainable Tourism in the Lake District


It’s our world, it’s our responsibility to look after it.

That’s always been our philosophy, and we know that as hoteliers we are in a strong position to set a good example.

That’s why we invited a group of travel writers to join us here to look at some of the issues around sustainable tourism.

It was just serendipity that, one week before the event, we were awarded the Sustainable Hotel of the Year title at the Hotel Cateys - the Oscars of the hospitality world. So we had a very smart new trophy to show our guests.

It was also serendipity that our forum coincided with the opening of the UN summit on climate change in Katowice, Poland, so we were able to keep tabs on THEIR debates…and hope that, via social media, they were aware of what we were doing.

We invited Gill Haigh, the managing director of Cumbria Tourism, to talk about how the Lake District is working towards moving visitors around the area – and to the area – more sustainably. The figures are encouraging; more visitors are making fewer car journeys around the Lakes.

She was joined by Sarah Swindley of the Lake District Foundation, the charity which looks after the environment, and helps fix the fells, through visitor-giving programmes. Here at the Cedar Manor we’ve raised more than £15,000 towards this in recent years.

The bigger picture was painted by Andrea Nicholas of Green Tourism UK who talked about how businesses generally CAN change to operate in a greener way, and that travel decisions in the UK ARE getting greener.

The keynote presentations came from two of our local activists who really are DOING something to try and save the environment.

Ashley Cooper is the award-winning photographer who spent 13 years travelling around the entire world documenting the impact of climate change. His book, Global Warming Images, doesn’t warn us what might happen if we don’t act soon. It shows, graphically and brutally, what HAS ALREADY happened. Deforestation, homes and even islands lost to flooding, the melting of the ice fields, Ashley has seen them all and photographed them all, and his images shocked our audience of hardened travel writers and academics.

But he does point to those actions – big and small – which are having an impact. Our Walney off-shore windfarm, for example, the world’s largest; and the solar panels on his own roof at home. Along with his own favourite, the world’s first solar-powered crematorium in India! And he tackles the myths about renewable energy: “For every pound the world's governments spend on subsidising renewable energy, they spend six pounds on fossil fuels."

Our other keynote speaker was Kate Rawles, known as Carbon Cycle Kate, the adventurer who has just travelled the length of South America on her home-made bamboo bicycle: “The world’s first home grown bike”.  Kate’s travels are not self indulgent. She travels frugally, and while enjoying her adventures, she was studying the impact of the loss of biodiversity, and believes that if we all go out there and have adventures in wild places, we will understand all the better why change is essential.

And her journeys have a low carbon impact; she travelled by freight ship, before beginning her epic cycle ride. Our current relationship with nature and biodiversity is completely dysfunctional, says Kate. “Pollution, mining and intensive agriculture all have a deeply harmful effects in nature. The Inca at Macchu Picchu valued seeds more highly than gold.”

Our guests, influential travel writers, bloggers and academics who were with us to hear all this, spent the rest of the evening taking the conversation further.

The next day they tested our local sustainable transport: a ride on the Mountain Goat bus, and a sail with Windermere Lake Cruises. All just on our doorstep.

At Cedar Manor we will help you find your way about on foot and by public transport.  We know where to hire electric bikes too.  We will publish another blog soon telling you about our Green journey and how we can all do our bit to help.

We all have to DO something. We will keep on reminding you all. It’s a wonderful, beautiful world, and no one else will take care of it for us.

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